Cambodian runner’s determination at SEA Games captures hearts (video)
Phnom Penh witnessed the rise of a new local hero, Bou Samnang. The 20 year old Cambodian runner gained fame during the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, particularly for her performance in the 5,000-metre event. Despite finishing last, her determination to complete the race in heavy rain endeared her to the nation, and she even received praise from Prime Minister Hun Sen. Videos of her tearful finish spread rapidly online, making her an overnight sensation.
As Bou Samnang basked in her newfound fame at the Morodok Techo Stadium, she was approached by passersby eager to take pictures. She says that although she lost, they still support her wholeheartedly. It’s been a long journey for Bou, who used to train on ill-equipped dirt tracks and has faced numerous struggles, including health problems and the loss of her father, AFP reported.
Despite being anaemic and feeling weak, Bou refused to abandon the race for the sake of her nation, pushing herself to the limit. Though the race was won by Vietnam’s Thi Oanh Nguyen, an accomplished athlete from the region, it was Bou’s persistent spirit that ultimately captured hearts. Finishing just under six minutes after Oanh, Bou credited her determination for her viral fame, saying she wanted to demonstrate that no matter how slow or fast we go, we will still reach our destination as long as we don’t give up.
Cambodia’s hosting of the SEA Games is a significant milestone for the country, which has a tumultuous history. In recent years, the government has made efforts to promote and fund sports, especially as the Games approached. Moved by Bou’s perseverance, several officials and organisations have awarded her with financial bonuses, including a US$10,000 reward from Hun Sen, to encourage her to continue pushing forward.
Bou plans to use the money to support her family, pay off her mother’s debts, and pursue her education. She intends to enrol in university this year to study IT and law while maintaining her athletic career. With offers of scholarships from a number of institutions, Bou is already setting her sito next SEA Games in Thailand. She pledges to try her best in any upcoming events in order to bring further glory to her nation and her supporters.
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