A senior government official urged soft tennis players, who have just finished the 3rd National Games and the 1st Cambodian Paralympic Games 2022, to stay away from performance-enhancing drugs and instead focus on improving their chances of winning glory for the Kingdom at the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games next year.

Sar Rith, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, made the call while praising his own ministry’s players who brought home the highest number of gold medals at the recent national games, defeating six other ministerial and provincial teams.

He urged all the national athletes to train harder so they could secure even greater victories at the 2023 SEA Games, warning that they did not have much time to prepare.

“The nationals were a great hit out ahead of next year’s SEA Games, which are only a short time away. You have just five months to make sure you are in the greatest shape of your lives.

“You must be mindful of your physical and spiritual training. The games are a historical event, and we must strive together to express our national pride as Khmer,” he said.

Besides intensive training, Rith warned them to stay away from the temptation of steroids.

“When you participate in the SEA Games, you will be tested for banned substance. We have to make sure that we are competing fairly. If we are associated with drugs, we will have problems.

“Stay away from the issue of drugs because once you are associated with them, it will ruin your future. It will discredit the federation, our society and the Kingdom as a whole,” he said.

The commission that organised the soft tennis element of the national games said that 38 men and 25 women had competed in the seven events, which were held from November 23-27.

The interior ministry topped the medal table, claiming six gold medals and one bronze. Tbong Khmum province took second place, with one gold and two bronzes, followed by Kandal with three silvers and a bronze. The Ministry of National Defence placed fourth with two silver medals. Kampong Speu was fifth, with one silver and two bronze. Prey Veng and Kampong Chhnang were sixth and seventh, with one silver and one bronze respectively.

Tong Sophal, deputy general-secretary and acting president of the Cambodia Soft Tennis Federation, said on November 27 that the five-day competition had offered an opportunity for each player to show their talent on the journey to the SEA Games.

“The excellent results of our sportsmen and women can be attributed to training, perseverance, discipline, attention to detail and respect for the competition. The organisers and match officials did an outstanding job, and learnt a lot ahead our hosting of next year’s international games,” he added.