After Best-Ever SEA Games, Cambodia Readies to Play Host Next Year

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The flag of the Southeast Asian Games Federation. (Supplied)

As Cambodian athletes close out a successful SEA Games, the country is eyeing the prospect of even more medals when it hosts the regional Southeast Asia Games next year.

Ahead of a march that carried the SEA Games flag from Phnom Penh International Airport to the National Olympic Committee offices on Tuesday night, Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh told reporters that Cambodia was proud of its best-ever showing with nine golds and 63 total medals this month in Vietnam.

That’s up from just four golds in the previous 2019 Games in the Philippines. This year, Cambodia also won 13 silvers and 41 bronze medals, to rank eighth out of 11 participating countries.

“It is a good sign while looking to dominate more medals in the 2023 SEA Games competition in Cambodia,” Banh said.

This year’s host, Vietnam, topped the medals table with 205 golds. A total of 1,760 medals were given out.

Banh appealed to people around the country to be ready to welcome sporting representatives and international guests next year.

The Cambodia-hosted SEA Games are scheduled for May 5-17 next year, followed by the Asean Para Games on June 1-10, 2023.

Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Olympic Committee, said on Wednesday that the country had competed in a total of 33 categories in Vietnam and had medaled in 15 of them.

Cambodian athletes had gained valuable experience, and they would continue to work on improving their techniques, he said.

“We’re moving foward,” Chamroeun said. “We hope to have success when we host the SEA Games.”

He rated Cambodian athletes’ performances as being at about the 70th percentile of the top Asean countries. To take the next step, the committee would push athletes to train and compete overseas for more experience, he said.

Other countries’ athletes no longer wanted to be matched up against Cambodian competitors in qualifying rounds, fearing they could face an upset, Chamroeun said.

“They understand that the technique and skill level of Cambodian [athletes] have reached a level where they face a challenge.”

Buy Sophoan, secretary-general of the Cambodia Boxing Federation, said the results for boxing in Vietnam — one silver and four bronzes — were in line with the federation’s expectations.

In the upcoming year, the federation would seek international trainers to develop Cambodia’s boxers, who were also likely to travel to Thailand and Kazakhstan for training, he said.

“We will do whatever it takes to gain one gold and increase the number of other medals,” Sophoan said.

Sun Sothearith, secretary-general of the Table Tennis Federation, however, said his athletes were not yet at the level needed to compete in the world.

Seven Cambodian table tennis players went to Vietnam, but they all bowed out in the first round, he said.

“I will try to improve techniques and encourage the athletes,” Sothearith said. “I believe that in 2023, we will do better than in Vietnam.”

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