Friday, January 16, 2009

Hem Bunting hopes to bring more medals for Cambodia

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

There are more than ten world class marathon runners in Cambodia, according to Yem Oddom, General Director of the Youth and Sports Department in the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MoEYS).

The General Director said that among the top ten athletes, Hem Bunting is the best marathon runner and he is also at the forefront of those sportsmen and women best qualified to attend international half and full marathon competitions.

“I am proud of Bunting. He is our youngest runner but he has won many medals whenever he attends an international competition. He is the honorary champion of Cambodia,” Oddom told the Cambodia Weekly during an interview on January 5.

He added, “I believe that with his hard working, patient and talented runner has a long future bringing medals back home from international competitions.”

24-year-old Hem Bunting is the youngest Cambodian Marathon Champion. He is the youngest of five brothers and three sisters in his family and was born in Srah Russey Commune, Stung Treng district, Stung Treng province. Bunting became the marathon champion in Cambodia in 2003 after he received support and training from MoEYS in Phnom Penh.

“I started taking all sports seriously when I was 15 years old, and decided to specialize in the marathon a little later. Before this I was a football player, watching the nets for a local team in Stung Treng province,” he told the Cambodia Weekly during an interview on January 5.

Bunting continued that he began training for the marathon at Phnom Penh in 2003 when he was 17 years old. He was trained by Thai Sok, a Cambodian Marathon Coach, at the National Olympic Stadium.

He pointed out that so far, he has attended 10 marathon races, with an international line-up of competitors in Cambodia, winning six consecutive races in the half marathon discipline.

“I have been in competition since 2003 and have won a gold medal every year,” he said. “Last year, I participated in the half marathon competition in Siem Reap province. I won a gold medal, beating hundreds of runners from 32 countries. The reason for my success is my rigorous training schedule and my patience.”

Bunting also noted that he had attended the 2007 Southeast Asia Games (SEA Games) in Thailand and as a result, he won a silver medal for the half marathon competition over a 21 kilometer distance; he won bronze in the 5- kilometer competition. He noted that success in 2007 was a result of his training in Vietnam.

Relating to the SEA Games of November 2009, to be held in Vientiane, Lao, Bunting said that he is training very hard in the hope of continuing his success.

“I am confident that I will win another medal at the ’09 SEA Games Competition if the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will send me to Vietnam again for marathon training,” he said.

However, Bunting thinks that to win medals for Cambodia, he believes he must count on his experience of past competitions and stay with his grueling training schedule. This will be in addition to the position he holds as sports coach in the 11th and 12th classes at Tuol Svay Prey High School in Phnom Penh.

Bunting’s friend, Cheng Chandara, 25, also a marathon runner, said that he appreciated the scope of Bunting’s experience.

“I first met Bunting in 2003 when I started training with him in Phnom Penh. He has a set of clear objectives and is the most outstanding runner in my group,” he said. “I am happy to be training with him. His skill, experience and patience make him the best marathon runner in Cambodia and he has a long future of success ahead of him,” he added.

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