"To tell a woman everything she cannot do, is to tell her what she can."
The Spanish proverb aptly describes Cambodian triathlete Thom Somavattey.
She may just 20-year-old but Thom can count herself in as a member of the growing number of strong women, who strive in making it happen.
Picking up the gruelling sports at a tender age she won her first medal in a competition, a bronze at the national championships when she was just a 15-year-old.
“I wanted to challenge. I wanted to prove that women can take part in sports that many believe we cannot do,” said the unassuming lass.
And prove them wrong she did when she won the bronze medal in her first major competition, at the National Triathlon championships in 2017.
And she did it despite not being a member of the national team. Two years later and having been drafted into the national training squad, she went on to win the national title.
“I started swimming initially, but I also loved biking. The national coach drafted in me because I was pretty good and swimming and he also believed in my commitment in training,” said Thom.
The budding triathlete has a personal best of 1:17 in the sprint triathlon and hopes to make her mark in the full triathlon later next month.
For the record , the full triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run while the sprint triathlon usually consists of a 750-meter swim, 20k-bike ride and a 5k-run.
The first-year business school student at the Phnom Penh University is currently attending full-time training for the SEA Games.
“It is mostly online classes for me now. It is something I am balancing between training and studying,” said Thom, who is now based at the training camp in Kep.
She was a silver medalist at the 2018 Aquathon Asian Championships in Hong Kong, finishing behind Hong Kong’s Lo Ho Yan in the junior category and fifth overall in the elite women’s category.
She also represented Cambodia at the 2019 World Games, but failed to get a podium finish.
Thom hopes to strike it right for her nation when Cambodia hosts the 32nd SEA Games for the first time between 5-17 May, 2023.
She is expected to represent the Kingdom in both the individual and team triathlon competitions in Kep.
Thom may still young for a triathlete but she already has more than five-years-experience in the sport and would make her SEA Games debut as a matured 21-year-old.
Don’t ever tell her she cannot do that and she may just surprise you with a coveted and elusive medal at the Games.[crellyslider alias="thom_somavattey"]
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