Cambodia’s Petanque Golden Heroine Celebrated in Capital

After picking up a gold medal at the World Petanque Championships in Belgium on Sunday, Ouk Sreymom was met by a motorcade on Tuesday at Phnom Penh International Airport and escorted through the streets to Olympic Stadium for a ceremony to mark her achievement.

Ms. Sreymom won gold in the women’s singles, comfortably beating Tunisian Beji Mouna 13-7 in the final after knocking out Audrey Bandiera of France in the semifinals of the tournament in Ghent.

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Ouk Sreymom holds up her gold medal while riding through Phnom Penh atop a truck on Tuesday after winning the World Petanque Championships in Belgium on Sunday. (Emil Kastrup/The Cambodia Daily)

Cambodia also picked up medals in mixed doubles, with Nhem Bora and Khim Sreang Sora taking silver after losing to Tunisia in the final.

To celebrate the latest international triumph in the sport—also known as boules—Ms. Sreymom was greeted by an escort of a dozen motorcycles at the capital’s airport and shadowed to the stadium.

“I am very happy. Nothing is comparable…. There were a lot of obstacles,” Ms. Sreymom told reporters.

Ke Leng, Cambodia’s most famous petanque player, who has amassed 17 gold medals from across the globe during her career, said she hoped increased success in the sport would inspire youngsters to follow in her footsteps.

“Sreymom’s victory encourages the future generation. I am very happy for her,” Ms. Leng said.

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Ouk Sreymom arrives at Phnom Penh International Airport on Sunday after winning gold in the World Petanque Championships in Belgium on Sunday. (Emil Kastrup/The Cambodia Daily)

Petanque is one of the few sports in which Cambodia regularly makes a mark on the world stage. The sport—a form of lawn bowling in which players throw metal balls to land near a small wooden ball called a jack—became popular during the French colonial era as a way for colonial officials and Cambodian workers to bond.

Prum Din, first vice president of the National Petanque Association, said Cambodia had now won about 150 medals at tournaments around the world.

As a reward for her success, Ms. Sreymom will be handed $40,000 from Prime Minister Hun Sen, whom she will meet on Thursday, Mr. Din said.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said the mixed pair would also be given 80 million riel, or about $20,000.

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