Cambodian vovinam world champion Pov Sokha is wary of the threat posed by hosts Vietnam at the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) next month.
“As you know, vovinam originated from Vietnam. They are the SEA Games hosts this year, which gives them an advantage, but puts extra pressure on us,” she said.
Vovinam will feature again at the 31st games, after being dropped from the biggest multi-sports event in the region for the last three competitions (2015, 2017, and 2019).
Cambodia is banking on the sport to reap several medals at the Games through Sokha – who has done the nation proud on the international stage. She won world titles at the 2017 World Championships in India and again in 2019, when Cambodia hosted the event.
The Army officer has also been the undisputed vovinam star of Cambodia, winning the national championships a record four times since 2017.
The national side has been in a closed-door training camp at the Morodok Techo National Stadium for the last six months, preparing for the Games.
“Conditions in the camp are getting better day by day, and now we are used to the closed door policy” said Sokha.
Prior to the camp, the team had been training virtually, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s better now that the vovinam players have joined the training camp. Training online was very difficult, as we need to practice our performances together,” Sokha lamented.
She added that in terms of tactical training, training virtually was not ideal – having sparring partners present at the physical camp was much more effective.
With her wide range of experience on the international stage, Sokha is looking to bag another SEA Games medal this year.
In her first appearance at the 2013 SEA Games, she brought home bronze in the 50-55kg vovinam combat event.
In Vietnam, she will compete in three different vovinam events – none of which are the same as the one she won at the World Championships in 2017 and 2019.
“I can’t tell you what will happen in the future – the only thing I can assure you of is that I’ll do my best and give it my all,” she said.
After switching from swimming, Sokha began training in vovinam in 2011 and quickly established herself as one of Cambodia’s greatest sportswomen.
She also won a gold medal at the Asian Beach Games in Vietnam in 2016 – as well as two golds at the Asian Championship in 2018.
Huy Sophak / CAMBODIA2023