This Runner Finished Last, but Her Perseverance Won Over a Nation

Video of the Cambodian runner Bou Samnang’s rain-soaked performance in a 5,000-meter race resonated with fans who applauded her gritty determination.

Runner number 401 was dead tired and suffering from low blood pressure. She was also last by a wide margin in the 5,000 meters and plodding alone, through a raucous rainstorm, around the track of a near-empty stadium.

Bou Samnang, 20, finished the race anyway.

Her rain-soaked performance at the Southeast Asian Games — this year’s edition was hosted this month by her home country, Cambodia — would have been a footnote in a tournament that is unknown to most sporting fans outside the region. But when video of it circulated widely on social media, she became an unlikely national celebrity.

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