Forget Bou Samnag, Cambodia Are Also Winning

Bou Samnag

Looking at the western media and you’d assume that Bou Samnag was the hero of Cambodia’s SEA Games tournament so far, when in actuality the nation are currently topping the medals table.

Said story went viral after Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Oanh had won  the 5000 meter race on Monday race in a time of 17 minutes 00.28 seconds. Torrential rain then started to to pour and was bouncing off of the track by the time the Cambodian crossed the line in 22:54.22, which rightly drew applause from the crowd.

Bou Samnag story goes viral

The story of a plucky loser getting cheers from the crowd then made local media, before going viral, hitting the BBC, of course, The Guardian, of course and even the World Athletics publication.

Most of the stories plugged the same narrative, or used the same phrase “Bou Samnag loses race, but wins hearts”. Overall though and while the stories are supposed to be nice, they also seem to be going down the “hard working, but poor Khmer” angle, when in fact we are top of the medals table.

Not all the local feedback has been good though, with some netizens pointing out that not only is 5000 meters not very far at all, but that rain in South-East Asia is actually a fairly frequent occurrence.

Cambodia Top of The Table

As things currently stand Cambodia are top of the medals and for context have already won more than 130 medals.

During the last SEA Games the country won just 63 medals, finishing 8th out of 11. Golds this year have been spread through a range of events from chess to soft tennis and while we may not finish top of the table in the end, this will be by far our most successful games to date.

Pointing this out is not to take anything away from the perseverance of Bou Samnag, but more to showcase that as well as some plucky underdog losers, we also have a whole heap of really impressive winning athletes.

This article is adapted from BPVE, ( reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review. (
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