Disabled Athletes Win Gold

An Sok Eng returned from Malaysia last week with a gold medal and a photograph of himself standing arm-in-arm with one of his fellow Southeast Asian Paralympics competitors.

The photograph shows the two men smiling after the 800-meter run, an event in which An Sok Eng won the silver medal and Cambodian Chhim Phan won the gold. It also shows An Sok Eng’s prosthetic leg, as well as the sleek-looking prosthetic of his Thai friend, which was made with the newest technology.

“Among the 10 countries, I felt it would be most difficult to beat the Thais because of their high- technology prosthetics,” An Sok Eng said.

Chhim Phan arrived in Kuala Lumpur for the week of games with similar feelings of inferiority. “I didn’t expect to win because I didn’t have as good a prosthetic as the other competitors,” he said.

But despite the lowered expectations and the high degree of respect for their opponents—who came from more developed countries like Singapore and Ma­laysia—Cambodians came away from the Games with two gold medals, two silver medals and two bronze medals.

“I felt afraid because Cambodia is a small country and we were competing against richer countries with more capable competitors,” Sak Oung said. “But my coach and my friends calmed me down and asked me to concentrate. They told me not to think about this or that during the match.”

Sak Oung, who lost his lower right leg in 1986 after stepping on a land mine in Banteay Mean­chey province, placed first in the 400-meter race.

Also bringing home medals were San Mao, who won a silver in the 800-meter race, and Kim Vanna, who placed third in the 100-meter and 200-meter races, according to Yan Sokun of the National Center of Disabled People.

 

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