Swimmers waited ‘generations’ to medal at SEA Games

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia's swimming athletes prepared to train their Fin swimming technique before they competed at the 31st SEA Games last month in Hanoi, Vietnam. KHMER SWIMMING FEDERATION

The Khmer Swimming Federation shared that the medal they claimed at the recent 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi last month was the result of “generations” of developing the sport in the Kingdom.

The bronze medal – in the men’s fin swimming 4mx200m relay – was the first for the federation since the 7th SEA Games, held in Singapore in 1973.

Forty-nine years ago, the Kingdom's swimmers won 13 medals, including two gold, seven silver and four bronze medals in the aquatic event. The discipline of finswimming had not yet been introduced, with its first games’ appearance coming in 2003.

At the recent games in Hanoi, the federation – known as the Khmer Amateur Swimming Federation from 1980 until 2009 – won the medal on the first day of their appearance.

After returning home from Vietnam, Hem Kiri, secretary-general of the federation, confirmed that the efforts and patience of many generations had finally paid off. He considered the achievement a positive indicator of the Kingdom’s strategy ahead of next year’s games, which Cambodia will host for the first time.

“We had not been able to podium at the games for a long time, but this result rewarded our perseverance. Obviously, the result came after many years of effort by our swimmers,” Kiri told the press.

“We can say that we have not waited years, but generations,” he said. “This was a long term sacrifice. We achieved this result but we will not let ourselves be affected by complacency. We will continue to train hard and sharpen our skills ahead of the 2023 games.”

He expressed his pride and made sure people understood that the results obtained by the Cambodian team were not a fluke.

The former national swimmer stated: “For this victory, I am proud of each of our six athletes. They worked through many difficulties and overcame many obstacles to make it to the games. I am also grateful for the leadership of Minister of Public Works and transport Sun Chanthol, who serves admirably as the president of the federation.”

“We have shown that Cambodia can do great things as long as we have the patience. These results did not come by accident – the swimmers had to deal with a lot of pressure,” he added.

Kiri considered the medal a great motivator for his swimmers, saying it would drive them to greater heights in the future.

“It will certainly encourage our younger athletes. Both female and male swimmers will certainly do their best for the nation,” he said.

“Even though our female athletes did not medal at the recent games, they did the best. They even made it to the finals, which was unexpected as it was their first time competing in finswimming. It was a great portent for what the team will achieve at the 2023 games,” he added.