Petanque Squad Wins Gold for Cambodia

Lawn Bowlers Tops in Asia-Pacific Championship

The medals hanging around their necks were gold, and their smiles were just as radiant as the three-man Cambodian petanque squad arrived home Tuesday at Pochentong Airport.

Om Chandaren, Tit Bunsan and Sim Suor won the Asia-Pacific Petanque Championship held Saturday and Sunday in Singapore.

They defeated a team of Thais 13-8 in the final match. Other countries represented included Laos, Australia, Singa­pore, Japan, Seychelles and Mauritius.

In petanque, the French version of lawn bowling, three players toss underhand six steel balls at a smaller ball on the other end of a dirt pit. The goal is for your team’s steel balls to be closest to the smaller ball.

Tit Bunsan said the Cambo­dians prevailed despite unusual playing conditions in Singapore, where the surface consisted of small stones instead of the finer dirt usually used.

“In the end, we got what we wanted for our nation,” he said. “Our victory was also warmly greeted by many of the foreign sportsmen.”

That was no doubt true, since Cambodia invariably finishes near the bottom in almost every other international sports competition it enters.

But the national team has en­joyed success in petanque, including a title in this same tournament in 1995.

In recognition of Cambodia’s love for the game, the Interna­tional Petanque Federa­tion will hold the 2001 World Champion­ships in Siem Reap. Scheduled for Nov 20 to Nov 25, the event is expected to draw 15 teams competing for $60,000 in prize money.

But for now, Cambodia’s gold medal winners are enjoying their triumphant moment.

Greeted at the airport by na­tional athletic officials and a traditional welcoming chhaiyam band, they patiently answered questions before climbing onto the back of a flatbed truck that carried them into Phnom Penh, complete with a long cloth banner stating to all onlookers that these men were champions.



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