Taekwondo champion Sorn Seavmey returned to Cambodia to a rapturous welcome yesterday morning, telling a large crowd of fans who turned out to greet her that winning a gold medal at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games “was not a problem”.
Seavmey, who also won gold medals at the 2013 SEA Games and 2014 Asian Games, defeated Kirstie Elaine Alora of the Philippines in the under 73kg division final on Tuesday – the same day that Cambodia’s Khim Dhima won a gold in his muay final.
While the first round ended tight at 1-1, Seavmey dominated to open up a three point gap (6-3) in the second and cruised in the third to secure the gold – Cambodia’s third and final medal at the SEA Games.
“I think the SEA Games is not a problem for me because I had already competed against all my opponents before,” she said yesterday.
“For me, I expect to compete with athletes from western countries because that is a big experience. Even if we lose in the competition we can get experience from them.
“And next month, I will prepare for another competition.”
She is also expected to lead the kingdom’s charge and defend her hard-fought gold medal at next year’s Asian Games in Jakarta.
Going into the SEA Games, Seavmey said she was untroubled by the thought of her opponents, but admitted she was more wary of judging decisions.
“I also told my coach that I am not afraid with the techniques of my opponents, but I was afraid of the judges and any irregularities in the scores,” she said.
However, it was Alora who was vocal about the judges in the aftermath of her defeat.
“I did my best. I was trying to score some points but I still lacked the follow-ups,” she told The Philippine Star.
“Then the calls didn’t go my way. I couldn’t figure it out, but it’s the refs’ call. It was a good fight and I have no regrets.
“We prepared hard against her. But I still found it hard to win because of her height,” she added.
Cambodia sent a contingent of 179 athletes to this year’s SEA Games and they returned with a respectable record of 17 medals – three gold, two silver and 12 bronze. Of the 11 nations, Cambodia finished in eighth position.
Despite the protestations of Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, hosts Malaysia comfortably wrapped up their campaign with their best total ever of 323 medals.