Monday, May 25, 2009

Khmer Boxers Prepare for World Taekwondo Competitions

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Cambodia plans to send 10 taekwondo fighters to represent the country in five different international taekwondo competitions. The venues for the three competitions scheduled for this year include Vietnam, South Korea and Thailand. The Plans were revealed by Choi Yong Sok, Coordinator and National Team Head Coach for the Cambodian Taekwondo Federation (CTF). The Cambodian Taekwondo Federation was established in 1995. It aims to promote Taekwondo, a traditional Korean martial art. Aside from learning a useful self-defense technique, members also enjoy the benefits of healthy exercise and good company.

Yong Sok, a Korean national and highly experienced Taekwondo Coach has attained a Black Belt; Sixth Dan, awarded under the authority of the Korean Taekwondo Federation in Seoul, South Korea. He said he was thrilled by the prospect of seeing his trainees in action at the South East Asia Taekwondo Championships.

The first of these competitions will take place in Ho Chi Minh City in July. The next bout will take place in early August in Bangkok, Thailand. August 12-15 will see the contenders in action at the 2009 World Taekwondo Handmadang Championship that will be hosted on in Seoul, South Korea. The fifth Korea Open International Taekwondo Championship will be held over August 18-22, again in Seoul, South Korea. Finally, to round off an exhausting schedule, the 2009 South East Asian Games will be held in December in Vientiane, Lao, according to Yong Sok.

Yong Sok said that 188 member countries of the World Taekwondo Federation would also send their boxers to attend the competitions in South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam for this year.

“This is a huge fighting event and an honor for Cambodian boxers to participate. To prepare for these competitions our competitors have to prepare and train hard from now on,” Yong Sok said during an interview with The Cambodia Weekly on May 19.

Yong Sok said that the national taekwondo team now is undertaking a rigorous training schedule that sees them in action from Monday to Saturday. The training is conducted under the steely gaze of Yong Sok at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh. The weekends see full combat between national team members and round table discussions, where fighters discuss techniques and share experiences.

“I hope that with this training schedule and with the patience and hard work of the national team, Cambodia can look forward to some taekwondo glory and a pleasing haul of medals,” he said.

Yong Sok emphasized that currently there 20 members in the international taekwondo team. Five pugnacious female combatants join fifteen male fighters to represent the nation and the CTF.

Since its establishment in 1995, the CTF has grown until today it has over 5,000 members. Roughly 100 members have attained a first level black belt, said Yong Sok. He also said that from 1996 to 2008, the national Taekwondo team has won 20 medals for Cambodia in international competitions such as the SEA Games. Last year for instance, the national team was in action in Seoul, they won three medals - one gold, one silver and one bronze. In 2005, Cambodian fighters were in action in Thailand, bringing home six medals including one silver medal and five bronze medals.

He added that there are a total of 30 taekwondo clubs and associations with over 1,000 trainees in Cambodia.

Chhoeurng Puthearim, 20, is a member of the national team. Puthearim started training with CTF in 2004. She has represented her country in five international competitions in South Korea, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Qatar. She has three bronze medals to show for her commitment to her country and the martial art.

“I am happy as I won the medals for my country. I will train hard and try my best to win more medals for Cambodia,” she told The Cambodia Weekly.

Sorn Elit, 22, another member of the national taekwondo team has one silver medal from the Korea Open Championship and one bronze medal from the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand. He too spoke of his preparedness for more experience at international competition.

Elit said that he now is training for three hours every day from Monday to Saturday.

In addition, he also runs from 10 to 20 kilometers every day around the National Olympic Stadium, in Phnom Penh.

“I am happy to train harder for future competitions and I look forward to more combat, more medals and more glory for my country,” he said. ///

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