Athletes Face Setbacks in Paralympics

The award-winning national paralympic athletics team said they are apprehensive about competing in this week’s Asean Para Games due to their lack of training and adequate artificial limbs.

“I am just not sure because I have had very short training time before the competition,” said 25-year-old Nhork Kimhor, who won two gold medals in track at the first Asean Para Games in Mal­aysia in 2001. Be­fore the last competition he had three months of training, he said, pointing to his artificial foot which is showing signs of age. “If I have good artificial feet I can run faster,” he said.

The National Paralympic Com­mittee of Cambodia is sending

15 disabled athletes—13 men and two women—to compete from Monday to Dec 29 in the second Asean Para Games in Hanoi, a committee official said Monday.

The athletes said that they will be using the same artificial feet that they used during the last games. National Paralympic Commit­tee of Cambodia Secre­tary-Gen­eral Yi Veasna said that because the committee lacks funding it has been forced to offer the athletes only two weeks of training before the event.

“Because the training is limited, it is necessary for the training federation to make sure the athletes practice a selection of athletics every day before going overseas to compete,” he said.

After the first Asean Para Games, the team returned home with 13 medals—six gold, five silver and two bronze. Yi Veasna said that Thailand is the only other Asean country that gives Cambodia any competition be­cause the two countries’ disabled athletes are of equal ability.

“Through the sport disabled athletes can expose their ability,” he said. “Disabled people can do the same things other people can do if we offer them time and chances. They are just normal hu­man beings.”

King Norodom Sihanouk off­ered $1,000, and Prime Mini­ster Hun Sen donated more than $5,000 to assist participation costs. The Vietnamese government said it will cover the team’s travel and accommodation expenses.

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