Cambodia’s squad of Asian Games Paralympic athletes began their Indonesian adventure yesterday with 29 athletes, the kingdom’s largest delegation to the games in history, set to represent the kingdom in the regional sporting spectacle.
They were escorted to Phnom Penh International Airport by Mr. Sar Sokha, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and Mr. Ouk Cheaakat, the director-general of the general department of sport.
The third Asian Para Games competition will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia between October 1-18. In 2014, in Incheon, South Korea, Cambodia only sent three athletes to compete.
This year, 29 athletes, 11 coaches, and three advisors and administrators from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport are part of the kingdom’s delegation.
Pre-departure, the team were given advice from officials in a series of workshops. Vong Soth, Minister of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, instructed Cambodia’s athletes to avoid the use of banned substances that could hurt both their dignity and the country.
“I tell all athletes to strive hard to compete, abide by rules of competition, said the Minister in an address to athletes last week. “I advise the athletes to avoid using banned substances and cheating in the pursuit of sporting and personal success. We must uphold honour of the nation. Think of the image of the nation rather than the outcome,” he added.
Mr. Soth, who is also the President of Disability Action Council, urged athletes to increase training to strengthen competitiveness ahead of the regional sports spectacle. Mr. Soth provided almost $2,500 (10 million riel) to facilitate expenses.
The event parallels the recently concluded 2018 Asian Games and is to be held for Asian athletes with disability. The Games will take place in the same venues as the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games – the multi-purpose Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in central Jakarta.
Meanwhile, captain of the women’s basketball team, Aun Sin, claimed the women’s squad were ready to compete.
“We have been working hard to train in Thailand and improve our ability to prepare for the Games, she said. We are committed to doing our best to get medals for Cambodia.”
Yi Veasna, Secretary General of the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia said he expected Cambodia to do well in Volleyball and Swimming, and had a strong chance for a podium finish in Athletics.
During Friday’s press conference, Mr. Veasna said athletes had been training for six months and received technical training and support from the Ministry.
“We thank [Prime Minister] Hun Sen. This a great encouragement from and he always pays attention to both disabled and non-disabled athletes,” explained Mr. Veasna.
Minister Hang Chuon Naron had also sponsored athletes for an additional month before attending the competition. In addition, all Games participation expenses are to be borne by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports.