Old artificial legs are to blame for the national paralympic athletic team’s weaker performance this year at the Asean Para Games, a paralympic committee official said.
“We earned fewer medals because the athletes used more than 3-year-old artificial legs,” Yi Veasna, secretary-general of the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia, said Monday.
The team of 15 athletes—13 men and two women—won 10 medals at the second Asean Para Games in Hanoi last week, Yi Veasna said. The medal count included of two gold, five silver and three bronze. Both golds were won by Kee Nary, 28, in the women’s 200-meter and 400-meter running events.
After the first Asean Para Games in Malaysia in 2001, the team returned with 13 medals—six gold, five silver and two bronze.
The team won more medals during the first games because Cambodia appeared to have been better prepared for the competitions than the other countries, Yi Veasna said. This time, he said, many of the foreign athletes had been training for two years and had better equipment.
There was also the fact that Thailand—a traditional paralympics powerhouse—participated this year. The Thais did not compete in 2001.
Although King Norodom Sihanouk gave $1,000 and Prime Minister Hun Sen donated $5,000 to assist in the preparation costs, and the Vietnamese government offered to pay accommodation and transport costs, the committee did not have enough funds to buy new artificial legs for its athletes nor to provide extra training courses before the competition, he said.
The Cambodian team had only two weeks’ training ahead of the games, he added.
Meanwhile, many of the foreign athletes used more expensive artificial legs, costing about $8,000, while Cambodians used older legs, costing about $1,000, Yi Veasna said.
Yi Veasna said the committee would recruit younger athletes because the current athletes have not improved their performance.