Hopes of Cambodia’s first-ever Olympic medal crumbled on Saturday evening as taekwondo star Sorn Seavmey was comfortably beaten by Reshmie Oogink of the Netherlands.
Expectations were high for the 21-year-old, who became the first Cambodian to win gold at the Asian Games in 2014, after taking the top spot at the Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament in April to become the country’s first-ever athlete to qualify outright for the Olympic Games, held this year in Rio de Janeiro.
However, Ms. Seavmey came unstuck against the more experienced 26-year-old in the last 16 of the women’s over 67 kg weight class, with Ms. Oogink winning 7-1. The Dutch fighter was knocked out in the quarterfinal by Jackie Galloway of the U.S.
After her loss, Ms. Seavmey took to Facebook to apologize for not bringing home a medal.
“I apologize to all parents and Khmer people. I am really sorry that I could not find success for our nation,” she wrote, alongside photographs of her in tears after the fight.
Ms. Seavmey’s loss was met with disappointment by Cheat Khemara, a trainer for the Cambodian Taekwondo Federation.
“Their athlete is more experienced and has six gold medals in Europe,” he said.
“She had better tactics and was faster than her.”
However, Mr. Khemara said the experience on the world’s biggest stage would only benefit Ms. Seavmey in the long-run.
“Next time she will win if she keeps trying,” he said.
Taekwondo fighter Kor Kimhuoy, 17, who hopes to compete in the 2023 SEA Games, which will be held in Cambodia for the first time, said Ms. Seavmey was still an inspiration.
“I felt sorry with the result and I saw she hit on point but the scores did not increase,” she said. “She encourages us to want to get fame and win medals for the nation like she has done.”