Cambodian Squad Takes Bronze in Tournament

There were scenes of celebration in Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium Indoor Arena on Saturday after the Cambodian national team won bronze medals in the 2007 Stand­ing Volleyball World Cup tournament.

The Cambodians, most of whom have lost limbs as a result of landmine accidents, beat Poland 3-1 in a third-place playoff on Saturday afternoon after narrowly losing to Slova­kia in the previous evening’s semi-final.

Germany won the overall competition after they fought back from two sets down in thrilling fashion to beat the Slovaks 3-2 in front of around 3,000 people on Saturday.

Organizers estimate that around 25,000 spectators attended the weeklong tournament, which at­tracted more than 60 disabled volleyball players from six countries.

In the individual awards, which were announced Saturday, two Cam­­bodian players featured: Mann Veasna who was judged best server and Nhen Buntheoun who received the best defender award. Pol­and’s Adam Steppen won the overall player of the tournament award.

Cambodia coach Christian Zepp said the goal had been to win a medal and he was proud of the players. “They developed so much over the last few months,” he said.

“To be third in the world is a real achievement but the objective is still to be number one,” said Chris­topher Minko, secretary-general for the Cambodian National Vol­leyball League (Disabled). “When you look at the scorelines between the top three teams, it showed there was little or nothing between them.”

Many remarked that, although the Slovak and Ger­man teams were technically more adept, the Cambo­dian side stood out for their speed, agility and fitness, Minko said.

Minister for Social Affairs, Vet­erans and Youth Rehabilitation Ith Sam Heng said after the closing ceremony that the tournament and the performance of the athletes had portrayed the country in a positive light. The next Standing Volleyball World Cup takes place in Bratislava, Slo­vakia, in 2008.


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