Bou Samnang earned praise from the public, and the attention of the local and international press, when images of her tear-and-rain streaked face were published.

Coming in last place in the women’s 5,000m race at the 32nd SEA Games this week, Samnang’s determination to finish despite a torrential downpour drew plaudits from many observers, including representatives of the International Olympic Committee.

Many suggested that her performance personified Cambodia, with its reputation as “a small country with a big heart”.

Prime Minister Hun Sen was also moved by the performance, commenting from Indonesia, where he is presently attending the 42nd ASEAN Summit.

“What really held my attention was the way she kept running, despite the heavy rain, and despite being in last place. To reward her determination, my wife and I will honour her with $10,000,” he announced.

“Council of Ministers secretary of state Seng Tieng will personally deliver the reward to her,” he added.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, vice-president of the SEA Games organising committee, met with Samnang to show his appreciation for her on May 10.