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Athletes Show Confidence for 31st SEA Games In Vietnam

PHNOM PENH: The 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games will run from 12-23 May 2022 in Hanoi, Vietnam. 560 representatives from Cambodia, including 363 athletes, will attend this major regional sports event. EAC News spoke to some of the athletes gearing up to compete at the games, who primarily expressed their happiness in being able to attend, and confidence that they would be able to bring medals back to the motherland.

On the morning of Thursday, 28 April, at the Koh Pich Conference Hall, Prime Minister Hun Sen met with more than 600 Cambodian athletes, coaches and sports delegates set to attend the SEA Games in May. He encouraged them to train hard and to try and win to the best of their abilities, to bring honor to the nation.

Some of the athletes present at the meeting said that they are currently training hard to get good results in the competition, however, they also expressed some of their concerns about next month's competition.

23-year-old basketball player, Chhin Sophara, said, "I took part in the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines, but the result was not good for us! It was my first experience at the games. For this upcoming event, I have gained experience from the previous SEA Games, so I will use this past experience of failure to develop myself well, and I will work hard to get good results for basketball, with all the support the government has provided us. […] What worries me is players from other countries, most of whom are mixed-ethnicity, so they are bigger than us, and it is difficult for us to keep up with them."

In recent years, Cambodia has won a series of gold medals in pétanque, so it can be considered a priority sport for the country. With Cambodia's top pétanque players participating in the SEA Games, expectations are high.

"All of our sport teams are hopeful, and why is that? Because our team is training hard, both men and women are training so hard, we have no free time. So my team, both men and women, are training for the nation," said pétanque player, Ouk Srey Mom.

Another pétanque player, Sok Chanmean, said, "Us players always have hope, but we can’t say in advance [how it will be] until we get actually get to the games, because we know ourselves, we also have hope, but we can’t determine what medals we can bring! The important thing is trying to get medals for the nation, that is the best outcome for us players."

The coaches and sports delegates also showed similar confidence.

"As a coach, there must be hope, but we can’t talk about the level! We can only say that our national training and our athletes are good, but when we go to compete out there, they could be intimidated by other players. But if they are not afraid, we will succeed. On this matter, I do not dare make high predictions," said pétanque coach, Sok Mom.

Speaking to the Director General of the Global Boxing Federation of Cambodia, Pech Sophen, he said, "When we competed in Malaysia, we won a bronze medal, and in 2019 we competed in the Philippines, and won up to five bronze medals. Thus, we are progressing. This year, at the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam, we hope that our athletes will win medals too, but we do not know what level [we’re competing with]"

Experts predict that Cambodia will win at least five gold medals at this year's SEA Games. The Minister of Tourism, Thong Khon, said that during the 2022 SEA Games, Cambodia will both partake in the competition and study how the event is organized, as the Kingdom will be hosting the 32nd SEA Games next year. The Minister added that Cambodia is ready to participate in 33 sporting categories in Hanoi.

On the occasion of meeting with 600 members of the Cambodian delegation for the 31st SEA Games, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that he would provide $500 dollars to each athlete attending the games this year, and also ordered the Olympic Committee of Cambodia to organize a direct flight to Hanoi with a local airline, to further strengthen the country's image in the field of sports.

The Prime Minister also instructed all players to respect the rules of the game, and to absolutely avoid using performance enhancing drugs, to protect the dignity of Cambodia.

EAC News wishes all Cambodian SEA Games athletes the best of luck!

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