Cambodia's top taekwondo exponents met in competition at the National Taekwondo Championships 2023, with athletes from seven of the clubs in attendance claiming gold medals.

The tournament was held at the Booyoung Khmer Taekwondo Centre in Phnom Penh, from November 30 to December 5.

Kong Sakkeda, deputy secretary-general of the Cambodian Taekwondo Federation, said the competition saw 60 male and 61 female athletes take part. The combatants represented a total of 24 clubs, 15 of them from Phnom Penh.

“The national championships were possible thanks to the support of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, who have provided a budget to facilitate the growth and progress of the sport, and its governing federation,” he said.

“Their assistance enabled each of our athletes to showcase their talent and skill as they strove for victory in their respective categories. It is important to remember that the national champs served as the ideal preparation platform for our national team, as they gear up to compete in international events, particularly the Summer Olympics qualifiers, which will be held in China in March 2024,” he added.

The top club at the this year’s champs was the Ministry of Interior team, who secured five gold and five silver medals across 16 disciplines, earning them the number one spot. Closely behind them was the Ministry of National Defence team, with four gold medals, one silver and three bronze.

The Brain Storm club from Battambang province came third, with two gold and two bronze.

An additional four clubs earned gold, with the New World club winning two. The National Police club took one – plus two silver and three bronze – and the ABC club from Poipet town in Banteay Meanchey province won one gold medal, two silver and one bronze. They were followed by the Borey 100 Khnang club, with one gold.

The capital’s Teho and Preah Athit clubs, along with the Ratanakkiri club, Basei Dek club from Kandal province, and the BT and Suvarnabhumi clubs from Battambang were only able to earn silver and bronze.

The Po Sen Chey club, Klas club, Mitapheap club, I-CAM club, Hosana club, Black Eagle club, The Best club, Mitapheap club, and Won Kwang club from Battambang province, along with the Mahanaim club, won only bronze. 

The Daun Penh club was the only one of the 24 clubs to return home empty-handed.

Education minister Hang Chuon Naron, who also serves as president of the Cambodian Taekwondo Federation, addressed the closing ceremony.

He expressed his appreciation and gratitude to the executive committee of the governing federation for the smooth and successful organisation of the tournament.

Chuon Naron noted that all of the athletes had trained hard, and adhered to the rules of the game consistently, regardless of whether the outcome of their match was a victory or a loss.

He called upon the assembled sportsmen and women who did not earn medals to use their losses as motivation to train harder and improve their skills, in order to guarantee future victories.

“According to the report I received from the organising committee, every athlete gave their best effort to secure victory. To those who did not achieve the desired results this year, I urge you not to be disheartened. Instead, prepare yourselves for future competitions. In the meantime, I remind all coaches and fighters to be prepared for the upcoming Asian Youth Games in 2029, which will be hosted by Cambodia,” he said.