Cambodia is to send 11 athletes with physical disabilities to next month’s Asean Para Games in Thailand, according to officials.
Five athletes will represent Cambodia in wheelchair racing competitions at various distances, while the remaining six athletes will compete in other events, said Yi Veasna, Secretary-General of the Cambodia Paralympic Committee.
Wheelchair racing coach Mean Seyhan said her team includes three men and two women from the Cambodian National Volleyball League for the Disabled.
Some officials and athletes have complained that they lack adequate equipment to have any chance of winning medals in the competition, which starts on Jan 17 and is the fourth to be held in Southeast Asia.
Cambodian runners face a shortage of flex-feet prosthetics to use when they compete in the short distance sprints, said Orn Sok Eng, secretary-general of the Cambodia Disabled Athletes Federation. The new, flex-foot prosthetics would cost between $2,000 and $7,500, he said.
“Our athletes will be able to run but they will have no chance of winning,” Orn Sok Eng added.
One of the athletes who will be competing in Thailand, Chim Phan, 38, said the flex-foot prosthetic with which he had won four medals in previous international competitions was now broken.
“Without a flex-foot, the other countries will be stronger than us,” he said.
Yi Veasna said that he is looking for money to buy the new prosthetics, but lamented that they are very expensive.
“I am trying to look for a [bigger] budget, but if I can not, we can use old flex-feet,” he said.
CDAF Board Director Bou Rithy said new uniforms were also needed and he appealed to donors in the government and private sector to lend a hand and support the team.