PHNOM PENH —
Some 170 Cambodian athletes will head to Malaysia next week to contest the Southeast Asia Games, where Cambodian sports officials expect to add to the country’s growing list of medals.
Vat Chamroeun, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, told VOA Khmer that the Cambodian athletes will compete in 24 competitions at the games, including the newly added Cambodian boxing and also sailing.
He said the Cambodian team were expected to do well in sports such as sepak takraw, or kick volleyball, taekwondo, petanque, boxing, wushu, tennis, and karate.
“The training is a good way to make technical changes that measure their capabilities,” he said.
At the games in 2015, held in Singapore, Cambodia won 15 medals, including one gold medal in sepak takraw, five silver, and nine bronze.
This year the games will also mark the 60th anniversary of Malaysian independence and be the sixth time the country has hosted the competition.
In a speech to athletes leaving for Malaysia on Thursday, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged the competitors to work hard and avoid substance abuse.
“When seeing opponents from other countries, do not be scared,” he said. “Do not be overwhelmed by the big or rich countries they have, do not be scared.”
The SEA Games is held every two years with athletes from the 10 Asean countries and Timor-Leste competing.
In 2023, Cambodia will host the 32nd SEA Games, with a $100-million stadium scheduled to be built for the event.
Hem Kiri, the secretary general of the Khmer Amateur Swimming Federation, said the Cambodian swim team had made great strides in recent years. “The improvement of athletes is a great step forward for the Federation. We think we are ready for the SEA Games,” he said.
Ouk Sreymom, a petanque player who won a bronze medal in 2015 and the gold at the World Women Championships, said she had trained very hard for the upcoming games.
“We are training every day, yet we do not dare to say which medals we will get," she said.
Panh Khemara, a taekwondo athlete, said he hoped to win a medal in Kuala Lumpur. “Despite small obstacles ... I am committed to winning a medal for the country.”
Hang Chuon Naron, an education minister, said that cash prizes await those who bring back medals: $10,000 for gold; $7,500 for silver; and $4,000 for bronze.