The 2020 National Gymnastics Championship kicks off today at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
The national championship will run for six days until Jan 19, according to Noy Phanna, secretary-general of the Cambodia Gymnastics Federation (CGF).
Phanna said the competition was delayed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The sports sector, like every other sector, was severely affected by the pandemic. Tournaments were halted and sports bans were imposed to halt the spread of the deadly virus. The latest ban was lifted in late December, paving for sports activities, including national championships, to resume.
The CGF typically holds the national championship in December each year. The national championship is part of the ongoing effort to promote and develop the sport. The best performers also get the chance to represent the Kingdom in international gymnastics competitions.
“We hold this event to select the gymnasts who will compose the national team that will compete in international competitions, including the 2023 Southeast Asian Games that Cambodia is hosting,” Phanna said in a prior interview.
Those selected for the national team will train in China later this year.
The first two days is mainly devoted to equipment testing, followed by four days of individual and team competitions.
Gymnastics clubs from Phnom Penh and other provinces will be among the participants of the six-day event. There are currently nine gymnastics club in Phnom Penh and three other provinces.
The participants will compete in 13 categories (eight artistic and five aerobics).
The five categories that fall under aerobics are individual men, individual women, trio, group and mixed pair.
The eight artistic categories are qualified team and individual all-around plus the six groupings under individual apparatus: ring, vault, parallel bar, floor, horizontal bar and pommel horse.
The national championship comes as the CGF is making the extra effort to prepare its athletes ahead of major international competitions, including the 2021 and 2023 Southeast Asian Games.
Experts said there are there still many things that Cambodia needs to work on and improve in gymnastics, a sport that is still not so well-known among many people here.
Phanna cited the need for additional human resources, more training, foreign exposure and international-standard facilities.
In spite of these limitations, the CGF, under the leadership of Tourism Minister Thong Khon, is making steady progress and Cambodian gymnasts are already making waves on the international scene.
Cambodian gymnasts competed in the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines and several other competitions abroad.