A former Khmer Rouge soldier who lost his foot to a land mine has become the first Cambodian amputee to complete a marathon, said Chris Minko, an adviser to the National Paraolympic Committee of Cambodia.
Nok Rotha, 32, competed Jan 1 in the New Zealand Millennium Marathon in Hamilton City, about 130 km from Auckland. He finished in 6:04:58, coming in 1,612th in a field of 1,693 able and disabled runners and first out of two amputees competing.
“It’s absolutely stunning,” said Minko. “It shows we’ll have a good paraolympic team for Sydney [in September] and shows once and for all the ability of people with disabilities in Cambodia.”
Nov Samnang, a 33-year-old former Funcinpec soldier who was disabled in combat in 1989, competed in the wheelchair marathon coming in 6th out of a field of nine with a time of 3:03:34.
Nok Rotha won two bronze medals in the 100m relay and 800m sprint at the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled last year. Nov Samnang was the captain of the basketball team for the games, although the team did not bring home any medals. He works as a wheelchair trainer for Veterans International.
The New Zealand Millennium Marathon was the first marathon of the new century and attracted runners from more than 40 countries, according to the organizers’ website.