ANZ Royal CNVLD Wheelie Grand Prix 1st Round Race Report
The ANZ Royal CNVLD Wheelie Grand Prix 2009 got off to a flying start on Saturday 25th April as the nation’s top 24 racing athletes took over the streets of Phnom Penh to compete for the titles of fastest athletes in Cambodia.
After a week of solid pre-monsoon rain, the clouds parted and the sun shone for the first race of the season as the teams from Phnom Penh, Battambang, Kompong Speu and Kompong Chhnang descended on Phnom Penh for the first race of the year resplendent in their new uniforms.
The ANZ Royal CNVLD Wheelie Grand Prix was honoured to have Under-Secretary of State Ministry of Social Affairs Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation H.E Chup Tony preside over the event, joined by Mr James Lowrey ANZ Royal Head of Corporate and Institutional Banking, Mr Paul Clements ANZ Royal Chief Operating Officer and Mr Stephen Higgins ANZ Royal Chief Executive Officer.
The afternoons schedule saw 8 heats followed by the Female and Male Grand Finals. In the first three Female heats, the Battambang All-Women’s Racing Team again stamped their authority on the event by filling three of the four finals places. Krouen Vannon (25.66 secs), Tor Chanta (28.63 secs) and Coach Sieng Sokchan (30.82 secs) being joined by former Female Champion Loet Ngait (26.75 secs) from Kompong Speu.
The five Male heats were a much closer affair with only 9 seconds separating a field of 17 athletes between the ages of 21 and 52. However, there were no major upsets as reigning Male Champion Van Vun who burnt up the tarmac in 20.78 secs was joined by Eng Laihourn (21.22 secs), Un Sophal (22.00 secs) and former Champion Souen Vanna (21.85 secs).
With the heats over, it was time for the Grand Finals and the Championship showdown. In the Female category, Krouen Vannon from Battambang swept over the line in 1st in a time of 25.22 secs, edging former Female Champion Loet Ngait out into 2nd (26.35 secs) with Tor Chanta powering through to a thoroughly deserved 3rd (27.59 secs).
With London Calling, Reigning Male Champion Van Vun knew he had to put on a solid performance to justify his selection as the Cambodian candidate to qualify for the London 2012 Paralympic Games and didn’t disappoint the crowds with a supreme performance which saw him take victory by a clear 2 chair lengths in a searing time of just 20.35 secs. Eng Laihourn, one of the fastest improving athletes, from Phnom Penh took 2nd (21.41 secs) with the Scorpion of Phnom Penh Souen Vanna hot on his wheels to take 3rd (21.44 secs).
In line with the strict CNVLD policy of providing equal prize money to both male and female athletes and of ensuring the majority of funds are channelled into direct athlete support, the Champions received a purse of US$200, 2nd Place US$100 and 3rd US$50 which represents some of the highest sports prize money on offer in any sport in Cambodia.
After the race the athletes took a victory parade around the Independence Monument bringing traffic to a halt as local residents cheered them on. The Australian Business Association then provided all the athletes a free barbeque dinner and refreshments in celebration of their efforts and in recognition of Anzac Day.
The CNVLD also wishes to highlight the outstanding support and commitment of the 30 ANZ Royal Bank Volunteer Staff who worked as Race Timers, Marshals, Starters and Water Monitors. The professionalism and dedication of these young Cambodians proved the crucial importance of volunteerism in civil society development and the successful hosting of large public events. Without their enthusiasm and positive attitude, the ANZ Royal CNVLD Wheelie Grand Prix would be a lesser event.
The CNVLD wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to the following for their outstanding support for the Athletes with a Disability of Cambodia: H.E Ith Sam Heng, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, H.E Kep Chuk Tema, Governor of the Municipality of Phnom Penh, the Police of Chaktomuk District, ANZ Royal Bank and the 30 ANZ Royal Bank Volunteer Staff, Mr Chan Rotha, ANZ Royal Community Liaison Manager, the Royal Rattanak Hospital, R.O Water, Dr Elise Read, Mr. Piseth Pich, Ms. Sophie Smith, Mr Jean Loncle, Mr Cha Hok, Mrs Srey Hun, the Australian Business Association, South Eastern Globe Magazine and the Psar Kapko restaurant. Most of all the CNVLD wishes to salute the dedication, commitment and ability of the ANZ Royal CNVLD Wheelie Grand Prix Athletes