Cambodia is set to send its first ever female competitor to the Olympic Games in Rio later this year.
Nary Ly, 42, was deemed by the country’s National Olympic Committee (NOCC) as the only candidate capable of competing, NOCC Secretary General Vath Chamroeun said.
“Before they go, there was a competition to select the number ones in Phnom Penh. After being selected, their names were sent for the request to join the competition,” he said.
“Last year she [Ly] broke the record, under the three hour mark, for the women’s marathon, so she has better technique than the rest in Cambodia,” he said.
Chamroeun said that Ly’s presence will inspire young female Cambodian runners.
“She could become a role model for marathon runners since female Cambodian [marathon] runners are very hard to find,” he said.
“It is the first time that a [Cambodian] female runner for the 42-kilometer run will go to the Olympics,” he said.
Japanese marathon runner and comedian Neko Hiroshi was also given a place on the team. He became a naturalized Cambodian citizen in 2011.
“After the competition, [the committee] chose the runner with international standard that is higher than the rest in our country to the point that he could compete in [the Olympic Games]. His record was 2 hours and 20 minutes,” Chamroeun said.
Hiroshi was previously barred from taking part in the London Olympics in 2012 after the International Olympic Committee decided he had not spent enough time in the country since gaining citizenship.
“It was in 2011 when we registered him to compete in London … for the Olympic Games. He was not [allowed] to join since he did not meet the criteria, meaning his nationality was not yet a year old, so they did not allow him at that time,” he said.
“There is no one in Cambodia who could beat him,” he added.