21 September 2009

Theme for a Dream

This is a sporty thematic cover, franked with Atlanta Olympics commemorative stamps, posted at the Olympic post office in Phnom Penh near the National Olympic Stadium, and postmarked on the first anniversary of the opening of 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Because of difficult situations Cambodia did not have the chance to join the Olympic Games after 1972. It was over two decades later when peace returned and To Rithya became the first Cambodian to play the Games again. Rithya is Cambodia's most famous marathon walker, in 1996 the proud athlete took the Cambodian national flag to Atlanta and competed with all his might at men's marathon with top athletes in the world.

AP photographer Doug Mills captured the glorious moment when To Rithya finished the men's marathon at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, 4th August 1996.

Rithya struck once more at 2000 Sydney Olympics. Although he was one of the last ten finishers in both of his Olympic participation, he earned great respect from both counterparts and spectators. Rithta is remarkable, he received no professional training because his country could not afford to provide it, he lived on a government allowance which wasn't even enough to buy half a pair of plain running shoes, and he enjoyed absolutely no generous sponsorship from big companies.

The 5'5" small built man battled bitterly alone and finally accomplished his dream on the track. He is now director of the Centre for Education and Sport.

Athletes trained by the marathon hero flew high at the 5th ASEAN ParaGames in Malaysia this August, courage and persistence has made the weak team bring as many as 15 medals home including a gold at 400m. Let's look forward to the 25th Southeast Asian Games in Laos this December. Cambodia has a theme to dream for.

PS Click below to learn more about Cambodia's latest Marathon hope, Hem Bunting, at:

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