First of all, I would like to ask everyone to congratulate our heroine, Sorn Seavmey and her coach, Mr Choi Yong Sok, who brought fame to our nation.
Tonight, our nation is proud of our first gold medal of the history. According to the statistics of the Asian Games, China ranks first with their 151 gold medals, while this is the first and only gold medal for Cambodia. Therefore, we celebrate this special occasion by making a parade and holding a welcoming conference by the Royal Government here at the Peace Palace. According to the report by HE Thong Khon and mass media, this is our first gold medal since 1954. Is it the first medal in 60 years for Cambodia?
Of course, we used to get some medals from SEA Games which involved participants from only 10 countries, but Asian Games is participated by 45 countries in Asia. We got our first bronze medal from the Asian Games in 1962 by Mr. You Chhin Hong (58kg) in Men’s Lightweight Amateur Boxing. Our first appearance in the Asian Games was in 1954, held in the republic of the Philippines, and we won nothing. As for the 1st Asian Games, in 1951, we did not participate because we were still under French colony. We also won nothing from the 2nd Asian Games in 1958, held in Japan, but we won a bronze medal in the 3rd Asian Games in 1962 in Jakarta.
In 1966, we did not join the 5th Asian Games because we were participating in another event called Asian GANEFO. However, in the 6th Asian Games in 1970, we got 4 medals including two silver medals from Amateur Boxing, one bronze medal from Swimming, and another one bronze medal from Women’s Volleyball.
In the last 60 years, we only got six medals in total which means the average medal that Cambodia won in 10 years is only one. On the contrary, this year, we received one gold medal brought home by Sorn Seavmey. I totally agree with what Seavmey said during an interview at South Korea that this medal did not belong to her alone but to all 14 million people in Cambodia. On behalf of HM the King Norodom Sihamoni and the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to warmly congratulate Sorn Seavmey on bringing the success to our country. We are really proud of the record that we just broke because it has never been broken for at least 44 years. Supposing there had not been 1970 coup, Cambodia would have won some more gold medals so far. Unfortunately, from 1970 to 1994, we were not able to participate in any games.
The report of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport and the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia have been faithful that we expected to get only one medal from this year Asian Games, and it did not matter whether it was gold, silver or bronze because we never won any medals since we re-entered the Asian Games. Fortunately, at the last minutes, I was informed by a text message from HE Thong Khon about the victory of Sorn Seavmey. As a prime minster who promotes every sector including sports, I felt overwhelmed. I was not able to meet her before the games due to my busy schedule, yet, I was very happy with this news. I believe there is going be more in the future.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sorn Elit, Seavmey’s big brother and also a Taekwondo practitioner, for his efforts and for being the one who introduced his sisters, Seavmey and Davin, to Taekwondo. Elit, the 3rd son of the Sorn’s Family, said Seavmey has brought fame to his family. He was right. Seavmey not only did it for their family but also for Cambodia. I also would like to thank Seavmey’s mother, Mrs Soun Chanthy, who, according to biography given to me, due to a traffic accident in 2003, her husband Mr. Sorn Meng Heang, their father, passed away. Seavmey was only 8 years old then. However, as a widow, Mrs Soun Chanthy was struggling hard to raise her children on her own.
Today, one of them becomes the symbol of the nation. This is very admiring and she should be considered as a role model. Furthermore, according to police Chief General Neth Savoeun, Seavmey is going to join the police force this year while the other two are already officially in.
I would like to express my admiration for this family and hope that Mrs Soun Chanthy will keep on her mother’s guidance for her children. This family could become a role model, to other family, of a drug-free family or juvenile delinquency-free. They built good reputation for their family, community and country. I was informed that Davin used to compete against Laura, a two-time gold medallist Filipina in Asian Games. She lost. On the other hand, Seavmey avenged by beating Laura in the semi-final and advanced to the final round.
As stated in the report, in round 1, Seavmey got only 1 point while the Iranian got 3 points. Supposing Seavmey had not had good sportsmanship, she would have lost. In the second round, the table turned, Seavmey got 5 while the Iranian got nil, and in the last round they both got 1 point. Finally, the total score was 7-4, which was incredible. The match against the Uzbek was not that hard because of the big different score gap, but the match against the Filipina was neck and neck. Lastly, the match against the Iranian was also hard due to the first round score. Summering this, I believe our athletes are not weak and just giving up after being punched once or twice. We kept fighting till the last minutes or till the referee halt the fight.
I am really excited to see many people waiting at the airport for the arrival of Seavmey. There might have been more people if it was not raining. This time, for the gold medallist of Asian Games, there are 6 police motorcycles escorting the parade from the airport to the Peace Palace. Next time, if we were to win gold medals from the Olympic Games, I promise there would be up to 12 police motorcycles escorting the winner. This will symbolise encouragement and respect for our athletes. I do not think it is aggrandizing. We do all that in respect for fame they fought and brought for the whole nation. I hope everyone is truly proud of Seavmey no matter which political tendency they may belong.
I would also like to express my gratitude toward Mr Choi Yong Sok, who trains all three of the Sorn’s children even though not all of them got the medal. Taekwondo practice really goes well with being bodyguard. When there is visit of leader from other country, we could use a tall bodyguard and with good martial art, like Sorn Elit has, to protect him/her. More importantly, if the foreign leader happens to bring along his spouse, Sorn Davin could also be her female bodyguard.
People might want to acknowledge that this is not the first time Seavmey bring home medals. She got one gold medal at 2013 Sea Games, one bronze medal at 2011 Sea Games in Indonesia, another one bronze medal at the 10th ASEAN Taekwondo Championship which was held in the Kingdom of Cambodia, one other bronze at the 11th ASEAN Taekwondo Championship in Vietnam, and last but not least one bronze at the Asian Junior Taekwondo Championship in Laos. Respectively, she is holding six medals including four bronze and two gold medals, but this new gold medal was seized from 45 countries. She raises Cambodia’s rank to the 28th.
I would also like to compliment the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, and all the athletes on working on this issue since before the games. Todays, they are all here to welcome and support their friend. It is my notice that there are going to be some private companies who are going to sponsor Seavmey and her family. We have here issue of Seavmey’s academic performance. She did not pass her secondary school examination (Baccalaureate) and there is only one week left until the re-test starts. She did not have time for complimentary study for the second test as other 12th graders.
As a result, HE Hang Chuon Naron, minister of MoEYS, has made two announcements: (1) MoEYS is going to allow Sorn Seavmey, the Cambodian gold medalist of Asian Games, to pass her secondary school exam automatically. She is also entitled to scholarship and able to choose any state tertiary education establishment she wishes to, and (2) any athletes who receive gold medal from either Asian or Olympic Games that happen during their exam periods will be allowed to pass automatically. Only gold medal term is applied here. As in Seavmey’s case, she is going to pass automatically because she won the gold medal. If one joined the games, but won nothing, we would not allow them to pass. One more thing, Seavmey can pick any state universities as her alternative. In my opinion, she is a genius in sport, she should choose the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and train to become a physical education professor. This is just an idea of mine, but she can choose other subjects as well.
I hope Seavmey does not need to stay at the dormitory because by giving her the scholarship, the Royal Government is making her academic life much easier. My entire family is sponsoring Seavmey 100 USD/month and it is starting from this October. That makes a total of 1,500 USD for 2015 (12 months in 2015 + 3 months left in 2014). We are planning to fund her until she graduates. We will fund her for 4 years unless she chooses technical subjects such as Medical or Engineering Degree which require her to attend 5-8 years, so we will have to finance her longer. She will need to open a bank account, and my son, Hun Many is responsible for transferring money to her account annually. Besides, I provide her with a motorcycle, an Apple’s laptop worth 1,250 USD, and an iPad.
We are giving her 3 days to discuss with her family which subject or university she should pick as her scholarship, but I expect her to keep training because she is our hope for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. Twelve motorcycles will escort her from the airport if she gets another gold medal in the Olympic Games, and Hun Sen will be waiting for her because 2016 is still in my mandate.
Today we are awarding a medal of Moha Sereywath to Sorn Seavmey and a medal of Saha Metrey Moha Sereywath to Mr Choi Yong Sok. According to the Sub-decree, we grant both gold medallist and his/her coach 80 million Riels. However, I and my wife are giving her another 10,000 USD and her mother 5 million Riels. I am really excited with this new history made in this new era, which people call Techo Era. I appreciate HM the King’s kindness for offering me this title. In the past, there were Techo Meas and Techo Yort, but in the 21st century, we have Techo Sen. Therefore, in Techo Sen’s era, with the leadership of HM the King Norodom Sihamoni, we bring home our first gold medal in the history of our competition in the Asian Games by our heroine, Sorn Seavmey.
Finally, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength./.