Taekwondo superstar Sorn Seavmey overcame an incomplete training regime to claim an astonishing fourth consecutive gold medal at the SEA Games. Seavmey, who also holds the title of “Lok Chumteav”, Her Excellency, announced her retirement following the match.
As the Kingdom’s most successful taekwondo athlete, Seavmey announced her return to the 32nd SEA Games less than a month before the start of the competition. As she had not competed at the games since 2019, expectations were low that she could repeat her golden performances from 2013, 2017 and 2019.
Seavmey delighted her fans with a fairytale return to the arena, defeating Laotian fighter Sirimanotham Sonesavnh on points in the final of the women’s over 73kg event.
“I am very pleased to claim this gold, the last one I will win for the Kingdom. Even though I announced my return just one month before the games, I was very determined. I trained hard and never underestimated my opponents. My training focused on rebuilding my strength as I believed I already had the experience and techniques needed to win,” she said.
After the victory, she dedicated the win to her daughter. She also expressed her gratitude and thanks to Choi Yongsok, the South Korean coach of the Cambodian national team, who she described as her second father.
“My fitness was not as good as it was in the past, and my striking technique had to change to reflect that. My coach suggested that I could not rely on aggressive striking like I could when I was younger and stronger. He taught me to conserve my energy and strike only when a point was on offer,” she said.
“It worked. His strategy led me to victory, and my fourth gold medal at the games,” he added.
Coach Yongsok has worked with Cambodian athletes for almost 30 years. He was the key to Seavmey’s incredible Asian Games debut in South Korea in 2014, where she bagged the Kingdom’s first Asian Games gold. He was also alongside her as she stormed to four consecutive golds at the SEA Games.
“I am proud to represent Cambodia, and to win gold on home soil is something special. When it was announced that the Kingdom would host the 2023 games, I knew that I would be 28 years old, and imagined I would probably be watching the matches with my family and my own children. Thanks to the support of the public, and my coach, I was able to come back and earn this medal,” she said.
“My daughter provided the strongest motivation for me to win, because I want her to grow up in a country that has a proud sporting tradition. It will also be a wonderful memory that I will share with her as she gets older,” she added.
As she retired from competition, Seavmey offered encouragement to the athletes of the next generation, who will follow in her footsteps.
“Even if you are unsuccessful in your early attempts to win, you must continue to strive for victory. I suffered many failures before I was able to achieve my dreams,” she shared.