National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia (NPCC) secretary-general and chief of mission Yi Veasna believes that Cambodia’s disabled athletes have a shot at winning a record number of medals at the ASEAN Para Games to be held in Solo, Indonesia, from July 30 to August 6.
At the ASEAN Para Games in Malaysia in 2017, the Kingdom failed to win any gold medals, but did take home five silver and five bronze.
Veasna said Cambodia will be able to win at least three gold medals on top of some silver and bronze this time around to break the record set at the 2017 games.
“I expect that we will set a new record and I predict that we will have at least three gold medals and maybe 10 silver and 15 bronze,” he said at a press conference on July 23.
Veasna said he believed this would be the case because he saw that the athletes were determined to win and put more effort into practice after they were granted the sponsorship of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport amid the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
“Our disabled players are strongly committed and have put a lot more effort into getting ready, and much more importantly, they vowed that they will not disappoint their families and our compatriots. And this is what tells us the most about them. They should be applauded for their extraordinary abilities rather than looked upon as people with disabilities,” he added.
Cambodia will send its delegation of 166 coaches and athletes to compete in the 11th ASEAN Para Games at the end of July in Solo, a group that will include 115 athletes in sports such as swimming, men’s and women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball, blind basketball, equestrian sports, football, table tennis, badminton, weightlifting, chess and boccia, among others, for a total of 133 events with Cambodian competitors, a two-fold increase compared to 2017 when Cambodia only competed in 60-odd events.
Veasna said he is confident that the men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams, the blind basketball team and equestrian team will be in contention to win gold because of their fiercely competitive attitudes and the skill of their athletes this year.
“More than 100 athletes in 11 types of sports will not only represent themselves and their families, but also represent all disabled persons across the Kingdom and across the ASEAN community. If they win one gold medal in any event, it means that they are a sports hero not only in Cambodia, but they will also be heroes in the whole of ASEAN, and their pride will be shared by all people with disabilities,” he said.
Ou Phalla, head of the Cambodia National Disabled Volleyball League, has already participated in the ASEAN Para Games twice in the past.
The Kampong Chhnang native said the Cambodian team this year has progressed in all areas and they have high expectations for winning a medal this time around.
“Our team has trained together since 2019. When it comes to the capacities of my team, I see that they have made a lot of progress in their breaks and in their blocking. Hence, I believe that we will obtain a gold medal this year because at the 2017 ASEAN Para Games in Malaysia, we won a silver medal and we’ve only gotten better since then,” he said.