Petanque Star Promoted in Military, Given $40K

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday promoted Ke Leng, who recently won her second world championship in petanque, from the rank of captain to major in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and promised her $40,000 for her victory.

In April, Ms. Leng, 48, collected $46,000 for her first world championship in petanque, a form of lawn bowling, which she won two years earlier, and was similarly feted by Mr. Hun Sen at his “Peace Palace” office building in Phnom Penh for her second victory.

Prime Minister Hun Sen presents a medal to petanque player Ke Leng during a ceremony at the prime minister's office building in Phnom Penh on Tuesday to celebrate Ms Leng's world championship win. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Prime Minister Hun Sen presents a medal to petanque player Ke Leng during a ceremony at the prime minister’s office building in Phnom Penh on Tuesday to celebrate Ms Leng’s world championship win. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“The heroic petanque player Ke Leng will get 120 million riel [about $30,000] and will get $10,000 from my own money,” Mr. Hun Sen said, adding that the $30,000 would come from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

“As Ke Leng is a captain at present, I spoke with [Defense Minister] General Tea Banh this evening to promote her to major,” the prime minister said, adding that the bowler would be made a lieutenant colonel if she won again.

Ms. Leng has been in the military since 1985, according to her trainer, Sok Mong, who said she was a volleyball player before taking up petanque.

Mr. Hun Sen on Tuesday called for more involvement of the armed forces in international sports, and said he had ordered Hang Chuon Naron, the education minister, to investigate the idea.

“This is not a Ke Leng issue, but think about a package such as National Police, military police, soldiers and civil servants who are sportsmen, who can go to play—they can play to get a gold medal,” he said.

Any civil servant who wins a gold medal will be promoted to the next rank and pay grade, he added.

Asked by Mr. Hun Sen whether she would bring home a third world championship next year, Ms. Leng demurred.

“If I still have good health, like at present, I will seek out a third gold medal next time,” she said.

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