The government yesterday heralded Cambodian sporting medallists, rewarding their success by handing out over $170,000 in prize money to lucky recipients in a ceremony at the Peace Palace.
Stars of the show were medallists from the recently concluded 9th Asian Taekwon-Do ITF Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Cambodia sent 24 athletes to compete for medals in the regional event with competitors among a field of 20 other nations. 13-year old Sopheak Chan Oudom topped the medal tally for Cambodia, with a remarkable haul of three gold, a silver and a bronze. Other medallists included Pal Chivorn and Mat Sok Mean.
The athletes, coaches, and ITF Cambodia Federation officials met Prime Minister Hun Sen where they were handed their cash prizes. Chan Oudom, with his arm in a sling, was the recipient of the largest prize of $17,000 (72,000,000 riel) from the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, as well as a further $ 17,000 from the Prime Minister in a private capacity.
“I am happy to meet with all the athletes, said Prime Minister. “Their success is the result of the efforts from all the athletes, players, and coaches. I want to show my appreciation to the various Sporting Federation and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport for their encouragement of sport.” The Cambodian Premier has made rewarding the kingdom’s sporting successes a feature of his recent leadership.
A sub-decree announced in July, 2015, declared that the government would award cash prizes for silverware-winning athletes from a special fund to promote the nations sporting development. After capturing a total of 21 medals in Mongolia, the government has once again absorbed considerable outlay in rewarding the kingdom’s newest taekwondo stars.
In December 2017, the government dished out more than $1.7 million in prizemoney to 211 medallists from the 29th 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, and other international sporting competitions.
Chan Oudom, 13, in an interview alongside his fellow medal winners was proud that he was able to show the world that Cambodians could compete on an international stage.
“Of course, I am very happy that we did very well in Mongolia, said the youngster. “I am thankful to everyone who helped me, especially my coaches and my teammates.”
This latest crop of medal wins is expected to do much to boost the prestige of the sport in Cambodia. In March, The Taekwondo Federation (ITF) said it would be pushing to include the sport at the 32nd Phnom Penh SEA Games in 2023.