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Pov Sophal: Coach, Mechanic, Inspiration Cambodia

By: Expat Advisory Posted: January-01-2006 in
Expat Advisory

This is the first in a series of personal profiles of CNVLD Athletes, whose dedication to their sport make them true Cambodian Heroes.

Pov Sophal, one of the top coaches in the CNVLD Racing Wheelchair programme is also one of its most colourful characters.

After joining the Cambodian Army aged just 18 in Svay Rieng Province, close to the border of Vietnam, Sophal lost both legs five years later in a landmine accident on 8th April 1991 aged just 23 years old.

After receiving treatment at the Kien he has stayed on to work as a wheelchair mechanic for the Association for Aid and Relief Cambodia.

Two years after his accident, Sophal took up wheelchair sport because "I thought a disabled person like me could still play sport and I want to show the ability of disabled people to allow other disabled people to become strong".

However, it was not until 2005 when the CNVLD Racing Wheelchair Programme began that he was able to participate in a competitive national programme where all athletes are provided the same equipment.

Getting up at 3.30am every morning, Sophal and his team cover an average 25km in a 2hr road training session.

Now 39, Sophal is married with two daughters and a son who love to watch Dad race and lead his team out at competitions. Famous among fellow racers for inspiring stylish racing chair customisations, his off-the-wall taste in sunglasses and the giant Naga snake tattoo which wraps itself around his arm, Sophal's dedication to training and especially his coaching of younger athletes make him a truly inspirational character in the programme.

As Head Mechanic for the CNVLD Racing Wheelchair Programme, Sophal has also been responsible for training his young team members how to maintain their chairs in race-ready condition, a factor which has proved the cutting edge in their competition performances.Dedication and preparation are the keys to success for Sophal and his athletes.

Sport is one of the most important parts of his life and his ambitions reflect the impact of sport on social development, "I want to be a good role model for other disabled people"

To Read more about the CNVLD visit their website www.standupcambodia.org

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