Officials from the Olympic Committees of 10 Asean countries met at a local hotel Monday to discuss ways to help Cambodia bring home the gold in the next decade.
Monday’s conference, at the Cambodiana Hotel, marked the first regional Olympic Committees of Asia meeting to be held in Cambodia, which Tol Lah, minister of education, youth and sport, called “both a historic and a symbolic event.”
“It represents yet another step by the Royal Government to secure its reintegration into important regional, political, economic and social groupings,” he said.
Cambodia’s participation—and success—in Olympic events, Tol Lah said, can help to heal the wounds of two decades of political unrest. Specifically, the minister asked delegates, including some from the International Olympic Committee, for help developing youth sports programs, its National Olympic Committee, and to improve sports training staff and facilities.
Tol Lah suggested that Cambodia focus on a few sports that it can be competitive in, such as soccer and Pentaque, which is similar to lawn bowling.
Other countries have taken the same course, Tol Lah said. “We have all enjoyed the successes of Thailand in boxing, South Korea in shooting and archery, Japan in the marathon and Indonesia in badminton. Cambodia needs to do the same in order to bring home its first gold medal.”
On the subject of the Pentaque, Tol Lah asked the delegates to help him make it an Olympic event. Cambodia recently won an international Pentaque tournament in Singapore.
“It is my ambition to see the first medal by the end of the decade,” he said.