Cambodia’s Incheon Asian Games hero wins fourth taekwondo gold at SEA Games

© Cambodia 2023
© Cambodia 2023

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, May 14, 2023: The Incheon Asian Games in 2014 changed Sorn Seavmey’s life for ever. The 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia has just added to that legacy.

Seavmey made sports history in her home country when she won Cambodia’s first gold medal in the Asian Games in Korea nine years ago.

The taekwondo star became an overnight celebrity and national hero, and went on to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where she carried the flag in the opening ceremony.

With three SEA Games gold medals already under her belt from 2013, 2017 and 2019, this would be her farewell performance in her home country – and she did not disappoint by outclassing Sonesavnh Sirimanotham (Laos) in the final of women’s +73kg category at the Chroy Changvar International Convention and Exhibition Centre on Sunday.

The long-legged Seavmey, at 1.83 metres, enjoyed a substantial height advantage over her Laotian opponent and won the first round 23-3 and the second round 21-3 to clinch the gold with a flurry of three-point head kicks.

After the fight, she collected a Cambodian flag and circled the packed and noisy arena with her coach until they reached the VVIP seats, where Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh was waiting to greet her. She then picked up her baby daughter and left the arena ready for the TV interviews in the corridor of the convention centre.

“This is the last SEA Games and last gold medal for me,” she said.

“I used to dream that one day I would compete in the SEA Games in my home country and that my husband and daughter would be there to cheer me on – and today that dream came true.

“I feel very proud to have won the gold medal for my family, coach, team and the people of Cambodia.”

Seavmey took a long break from the sport following the SEA Games in the Philippines at the end of 2019 but decided to come back for her home SEA Games in 2023.

“I am 28 now and feeling a bit old, with 60 per cent of my power from before,” she added.

“But in my mind, I knew I could win the gold medal because I believe in myself.”

Later she posted on Facebook: “Finally, I did it. Thank you, teacher, whole family, parents and all relatives for this huge encouragement and support: 4 times straight gold medals.”

Seavmey became the star of the SEA Games show for the second time on Sunday, following her spectacular flight through the night sky to light the cauldron during the opening ceremony at the Morodok Techo National Stadium on May 5.

This is the impact her historic Incheon Asian Games gold medal still had on the country – and still has more than ever judging by the fanatical, flag-waving support she received on Sunday in winning her fourth, and last, SEA Games gold.