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.”