Bodybuilders Unable To Compete in SEA Games

Unless money appears today, the Cambodian national bodybuilding team will be unable to send any competitors to the Southeast Asian Games in Manila by the Thursday deadline, officials said Tuesday.

“Now I think that it’s a little bit late,” said Cambodian Body­build­ing Federation Secretary-General Sok Sambo. “We are ready to com­­­pete but we cannot go.”

Pleas to the National Olympic Com­mittee for funding were ig­nored, attempts to secure sponsorship from Clark Hatch Fitness Cen­ter went awry, and David Mi­chael, a US national who funded Sep­tem­ber’s national bodybuilding competition—promising that winners would go to the SEA games—has left the country, officials said.

The team needs funding for airline tickets, food and lodgings.

“It seems nobody is coming to their rescue,” South East Asian Body Building Federation Presi­dent Douglas Latchford said from Bangkok. “It’s going to be too late now, which is going to be a shame.”

Sok Sambo said that despite his and his team’s disappointment, the competitors are still working hard for future events, including an informal competition with Thai­land’s team in Siem Reap on Jan 14.

Cambodia and Thailand also share one champion competitor: Thai national Sitthi Charoenrith—born to a Thai mother and Cam­bodian father—who won a silver medal in the 59th Men’s World Bodybuilding Champion­ships in Shanghai in recent days, Latch­ford said.

Sitthi Charoenrith has previously taken second place in the 80 kg weight class at two Mr Universe championships in 2003 and 2004, as well as winning silver in the Asian Championships and the Mr Thailand title four years running.

Current Mr Cambodia title-holder Dom Sarun was still holding out hope that he might go to the SEA Games, but he was resigned to the probability that he won’t be able to bring this international prize home.

“I am still interested, but if I cannot find a sponsor it’s okay,” Dom Sarun said. “I compete for the Cam­bodian people, not just for my­self…. The only thing I want to do is make Cambodia proud.”


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