Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Wrestlers take first gold but fail to achieve games’ goals

Wrestlers take first gold but fail to achieve games’ goals

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian-Iranian wrestler Sou Bali (top centre) and his teammates and leaders of the Wrestling Federation of Cambodia pose for a photo with their medal haul of one gold, one silver and four bronze on May 19. CAMSOC

Wrestlers take first gold but fail to achieve games’ goals

Cambodia's national wrestling team broke their deadlock on May 19 to win a gold medal at the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Vietnam. The win was the Kingdom’s first wrestling gold in almost 10 years.

The team set their performance benchmark when they participated in the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar and won four gold, two silver and four bronze medals. The four golds were won by Don Sao and Kao Cheng in the men’s 120kg and 84kg categories, and Chov Sotheara and Ni Samnang in the women’s 44kg and 63kg events. This remains the highest point in the teams’ games’ history.

Wrestling was not included, however, in the lineup of the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore or the 2017 games in Malaysia. Upon wrestling’s return to the games – in the Philippines in 2019 – the Cambodian team was unable to stand on the top or second steps of the podium, and returned home with just five bronzes.

At the ongoing games in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, the Cambodian team completed their campaign – in 16 weight classes – and finished with one gold, one silver and four bronze medals, a substantially better result than they achieved in the Philippines.

Cambodian-Iranian Sou Bali became the first wrestler to win gold for the Kingdom in nearly a decade after the 125kg freestyle wrestling practitioner defeated his Vietnamese foe 10-0 and went on to beat a Lao wrestler by the same score.

The silver medal was earned by Cambodian-Iranian Mo Sari in the freestyle 97kg class. After losing to a wrestler from host country Vietnam in the first round, he was able to find a way past his next opponent – from the Philippines – and earn silver.

Dith Samnang, Chea Kanha, Soeun Sopheas and Heng Vuthy all won bronze medals in their respective freestyle categories.

Former three-time gold medalist Don Sao – along with teammates Keo Sopheak, Eng Seng Leang, Nguon Makara, Yun Bunna, Chun Thuon, Ol Sao Heang, Soeun Noeun and Sambath Vannak – failed to make an impression at the games and will return home empty-handed.

The single gold medal earned means that the team has not achieved the goal set by the Wrestling Federation of Cambodia. National team coach Kang Den Piseth said before the event began that the federation had set the goal of grabbing at least two gold medals at the 31st SEA Games.

Casey Barnett, vice-president of the federation and head of the wrestling delegation at the games, said: “After three days of hard competition, we won one gold, one silver and four bronze medals. These wins came thanks to the phenomenal hard work of our athletes.”

“In particular, we should remember that they were training during the Covid-19 lockdowns. They were away from their families, wives and children, but they endured the isolation and overcame all of their difficulties to win these six medals for the Kingdom. We are very happy with our results,” he added.


  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,