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Kingdom’s medal expectations rise for SEA Games mountain biking athletes

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Cambodian mountain biker Huot Loy Raksmey wheelies across the line during the 2022 Thailand National Championships, held in Chanthaburi on June 4. SUPPLIED

Kingdom’s medal expectations rise for SEA Games mountain biking athletes

The Cambodian Cycling Federation (CCF) has elevated their expectations of collecting their first medals when the Kingdom hosts the historic 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in 2023.

The fresh optimism emerged after improved results by the national cycling team at the Thailand National Championships in Chanthaburi, which ended on June 4.

Khim Meng Long became champion in the Men’s junior Under 19 competition, while Krouch Va finished in 5th place. In the Men’s Under 23, Chan Chai Fong came in second, while in the Men’s Elite, Huot Loy

Raksmey came in second and Chan Chai Fong placed third.

In the women’s events, Cambodia’s Yuk Kanika was third in the Under 19 class, while in the Under 23 competition, Ken Malay came in third, while Ken Malay rode home in a creditable fifth place in the Elite women’s event.

In the Men’s Masters event, Cambodian national mountain biking coach Pierre yves Catry became champion. The results from the Thai competition mean the mountain biking team won a total of nine titles.

CCF secretary-general Nou Chamroeun praised the progress of the team and pinned his hopes on them collecting medals in at least some events as hosts of the 2023 games. At the 31st SEA Games – which recently concluded in Vietnam – Cambodian mountain bikers came very close to carrying off bronze medals.

“The team we sent to compete in Thailand is the team we expect to field for the 2023 SEA Games. Although we did not win any medals at the last games, we achieved a good ranking. The talent and prominence of our younger athletes impressed many countries, which is why Thailand was so keen for us to participate in their national champs,” Chamroeun said on June 6.

“This trip was based on a direct invitation from the Thais and our results have encouraged us to sharpen our goals for 2023. Our athletes are young and have the strength and talent – but they still lack experience in international competitions. We intend to get them as much saddle time abroad as possible ahead of the Phnom Penh games,” he added.

During the recent SEA Games mountain biking event in Vietnam, Chan Chai Fong came in fifth and Huot Loy Rasmey claimed sixth, meaning they were very close to scoring podium places in the event. Chamroeun said the two Cambodian cyclists had led the first three laps, but with the lack of experience and technique to maintain the lead, they lost places to their opponents in the fourth, and final, lap of the track.

“The cyclists who have won SEA Games medals in the past are aged over 30 years. They are the idols of our cyclists, and they were very excited to compete with them. Unfortunately, it became evident in the race that their experience and race-craft was a level above ours, and we were unable to fight for places on the podium.”

“Therefore, we have decided that whenever there are international competitions in the region, we will send our riders to participate so that they will get a chance to watch the senior guys more closely.

“We have high expectations that we will claim medals in 2023. Our youngsters are training hard and their abilities are growing fast. All of our cyclists have demonstrated massive potential, so we believe our expectations are justified,” he said.

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