Cambodia has opened its campaign in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games with hopes that it can do better this time compared to the previous editions of the regional sports competition.
Cambodia has a 400-strong delegation to the SEA Games in Manila that includes 259 athletes, 42 sports officials, 63 coaches and assistants, 29 team leaders and eight referees.
The Kingdom is competing in 30 sports: football, indoor volleyball, beach volleyball, 5×5 basketball, athletics, indoor hockey, swimming, fencing, cycling, dancesports, e-sports, table tennis, lawn tennis, soft tennis, taekwondo, wrestling, petanque, muay thai, gymnastics, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, traditional boat racing, baseball, kickboxing, arnis, karatedo, jujitsu, triathlon, badminton and 3×3 basketball.
The Kingdom men’s football team was the first out in the field, with the football side of the SEA Games starting Nov 25. Cambodia, which faces Myanmar today, sports a good chance of advancing to the semifinals.
Yesterday, Cambodia competed, with varying results, in various disciplines, including arnis, dancesports, 3×3 basketball and beach volleyball.
Players and teams that have yet to compete are training at various locations in Manila and nearby provinces.
The Kingdom’s sports officials are optimistic that with better preparation and training for their athletes, Cambodia will do better this time.
Many of Cambodia’s athletes were sent for training in Japan, Thailand and other countries.
A few months ago, Vath Chamroeun, secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), mentioned taekwondo, tennis, wrestling and boxing as the disciplines where Cambodia have the highest chance of winning medals.
Casey Barnett, a member of the boxing organising committee, said in an interview that they are targeting at least two bronze medals in the SEA Games.
Hem Kiry, secretary general of the Khmer Swimming Federation (KSF), meanwhile, said their best chance is in the breaststroke category.
In the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia, Cambodia placed 8th overall after winning 17 medals, including three gold, two silver and 12 bronze. In the 2015 SEA Games hosted by Singapore, Cambodia was also 8th overall with a total medal haul of 15 (one gold, five silver and nine bronze).
The SEA Games formally opened on Nov 30 in an elaborate ceremony led by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and high-ranking sports officials from the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia and Myanmar.
The opening came after the Philippine organisers came under withering local and international criticisms for failure to adequately prepare for the biennial event.
Prior to the opening ceremony, representatives of the 11 participating countries attended a flag hoisting ceremony at New Clark City.
Cambodia was represented during the occasion by Tourism Minister Thong Khon, who is also the chairman of NOCC, and by Sar Sokha, secretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS).