Since their first appearance in equestrian at the 1956 Summer Olympics, Cambodia has sent 37 participants to seven editions of the Summer Olympic Games, making 2012 their fifth consecutive Games and eighth overall. Athletes from Cambodia have competed in seven distinct sports since 1956, although since 2000 their delegation has consisted of only track and field athletes and swimmers. The nation has never participated in the Winter Olympics nor has it ever won a medal.
Four Cambodian athletes received special scholarships from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to help them qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics: Chov Sotheara, who won wrestling gold at the 2009 Southeast Asian Games, Sorn Davin, a silver medalist in taekwondo at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, Phal Sophat, who captured a silver medal in boxing at the 2009 Southeast Asian Games,
and athlete Sar Choub Veasna.
Both Davin and Sotheara failed to qualify through normal means and thus require a wild card bid from the IOC. Cambodia received a wild card for taekwondo in April 2012, which was given to Davin. The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) also nominated Khom Ratanakmony, a silver medalist in judo at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, and athlete Kheang Samon for wild card spots. Ratnakmony received his invitation to attend the Games in June 2012.
Hemthon Vitiny, who competed in the women's 50 metre freestyle event at the 2008 Summer Olympics is slated to participate in the same event at the 2012 Games. Cambodia has one more guaranteed spot for a swimmer in their delegation,which was taken by Ponloen Hem Thon, who will compete in the men's 50 metre freestyle.
In March 2012 the NOCC announced that Japanese comedian Neko Hiroshi had been nominated to represent Cambodia in the marathon at the 2012 Olympics, having been chosen for a "special exemption" after no Cambodian athletes met the qualifying standard. Hiroshi, a naturalized Cambodian citizen since 2011, had participated in half-marathons held in Cambodia for over a year and reached the podium at least twice, earning him a national fan base
PHNOM PENH — Comedian Hiroshi Neko on Sunday bowed out of an international half-marathon in the capital of his new home country after developing a fever, organizers said.
The Chiba Prefecture native joined a 3-km run instead.
"Neko got fever and therefore he could not compete in the marathon today," said Vath Chamroeun, secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, which organized the second international half-marathon in Phnom Penh.
Neko, whose real name is Kuniaki Takizaki, took Cambodian citizenship last year in an attempt to compete in this year's London Olympics. Although Cambodia nominated him earlier this year for the London Games, the International Association of Athletics Federations ruled him invalid because he hadn't met the length of citizenship requirements.
SEA Games silver-medal judoka Khom Rattanak Mony says he was as surprised as anyone to get a call-up from the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia to attend the London Games, but seems undaunted by the prospect of carrying a distinct lack of experience into the competition.
“Honestly, I wasn’t preparing for the Olympics, but due to the initiative of [NOCC secretary-seneral] Vath Chamroeun and [NOCC adviser] Gabriel Ken Gadaffi, I could get the wild card for joining the London Olympic Games,” the 29-year-old told the Post from his base in Brest, France.
On June 14, the International Olympic Committee granted a Tripartite Commission Invitation Place to the judoka, who goes by Mony, after the NOCC lodged an application.
Mony noted how new he was to international judo championships but said he hoped for a generous draw in the men’s under-60-kilogram event in London, which will be run on July 28.
“I don’t really know much about competitors in my category. If it is possible, I wish to avoid the strongest judokas. I don’t think I will be able to beat anyone, but I will do my best,” he said.
Mony, who grew up in Phnom Penh with father Lim Sokhom and mother Khom Rattanak Sieng, was introduced to judo by a classmate when he was 14 years old.
Having emigrated to Brest, he trains under esteemed French coaches Philippe Urvoy (5th Dan) and Claude Urvoy (9th Dan) at the Dojo Brestois, although he has not forgotten the tutelage of Cambodian coaches including national team coach Lach Vuthy, Nuth Hua, Chan Narenn and Chan Chian.
Lach Vuthy, together with the NOCC, took Mony to Jakarta for the 2011 SEA Games, where he won silver in the 50-55 kilogram men’s division.
This remains his only distinction in international competition.
Mony says he is looking forward to a welcome break after his performance in London, claiming he hasn’t had any time off since the beginning of this year because of judo, school and work commitments.
He names his sporting heroes as Japanese judo legends Yasuhiro Yamashita and Koga Tashihiko, who won gold medals at the 1984 and 1992 Olympics respectively.
Event: Men’s 800 metres Running
Date of Birth: 04/03/1983
Home town: Kien Svay district, Kandal province
Height: 1.70 metres
Weight: 63 kilograms
Coach: Phay Sok, Pen Vuthy
Years as an athlete: 12 (5 at national level)
School/College: Hun Sen Takhmao High School
Personal Best: 1 minute 53 seconds
World record: 1:41.01 (David Rudisha – KEN)
Confidence of beating PB in London: 70%
Beijing training notes: Used new exercise equipment. Ran at least 7-10 kilometres every morning. In training, set times of 23 seconds over 200m, 51 seconds over 400m and 2.47 minutes over 1km.
Thoughts on London: Looking forward to seeing the opening ceremony and international superstars of sport at the Games. Want to check out tourist sites and entertainment places.
Message to Cambodian sports fans:
“I’m delighted to fly the flag for Cambodia. I would like Cambodian people to help raise the profile of sport here.
“Exercise from sport is the medicine which can help your body and health and make you strong and smart. It can help you stop taking drugs, smoking cigarettes and relive stress.”
Event: Women’s 200 metres Running
Date of Birth: 09/08/94
Home town: Ang Snuol district, Kandal province
Height: 1.67 metres
Weight: 60 kilograms
Coach: Chey Kimsan, Pen Vuthy
Years as an athlete: 3
School/College: Samthomuk High School. Human Resources University
Personal Best: 26.34 seconds
World record: 21.34 seconds (Florence Griffith-Joyner – USA)
Confidence of beating PB in London: 70%
Beijing training notes: Training helped with fitness, building muscle and getting faster. There were changes every day to the training program. Ran distances of 50m, 100m and 200m numerous times, up to eight times each per day.
Thoughts on London: Surprised to be going to the Olympics. Looking forward to meeting former competitors and seeing sports stars as seen on television. Happy to be visiting such a modern and developed country such as England.
Message to Cambodian sports fans:
“I wish all fans can help push us to do well, not only in London but also in future events.”
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