Taekwondo’s Seavmey Wins Historic Olympics Qualifier

Taekwondo champion Sorn Seavmey again made history on Saturday, winning gold at the Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament and becoming the first-ever Cambodian athlete to qualify outright for the Olympic Games.

The victory in the women’s over 67 kg weight class in the tournament in the Philippines automatically qualified the 20-year-old to compete in the Olympic Games, set to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August.

“This year, I did not enjoy the celebration of Khmer New Year, but I feel happier than that and… winning a six-figure lottery,” Ms. Seavmey says in a video posted to Facebook.

Although Cambodia has entered eight Summer Olympic Games since 1956, including the 2012 London Olympics, entrants had previously competed as wildcards, not by winning pre-Games tournaments, according to Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC).

Having already made history as the country’s first gold medalist in the Asian Games with her victory in 2014, Ms. Seavmey said she did not plan to publicize video of her latest victory lest future opponents watch it to examine her technique.

“I have the video of my competition action, but I did not post it because I’m afraid the competitors [would watch] and see weaknesses,” she says in the video posted to Facebook. “But if I had the opportunity, I would post it for all of you to see.”

Mr. Chamroeun said on Sunday that after Saturday’s finals, the NOCC decided that Ms. Seavmey would serve as Cambodia’s flagbearer in the Rio Olympics.

“The Olympic Committee had already planned in 2012 to try and get an athlete qualified, so our dream has already come true,” he said.

Mr. Chamroeun said Cambodia still had a chance to have two athletes qualify to represent the country in Rio if a wrestler competing in the Asian Wrestling Olympic Qualification Tournament in Istanbul in May pulls off a victory.

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