Weightlifting siblings wanna Be champions
THIS inspiring story of courage and hope, which has Cambodian-born siblings Vannara and Socheata Be on the cusp of Australian sporting history, started 30 years ago when their uncle Vantho made the treacherous boat journey to Australia to escape the murderous Pol Pot regime.
After watching family members senselessly slaughtered, Vantho fled to Australia seeking refuge.
He later convinced his brother, Vanthy, to leave his wife, Chantha, and his two little children to make the journey to Australia in search of a better, safer life for himself and his young family.
Vanthy secured work on a Victorian fruit farm.
But his visa expired before he could get his family out to Australia. Fortunately, the farmer who employed him was so impressed by his work ethic, he offered to sponsor Vanthy to stay in Australia.
He agreed, but only on the condition his wife and two children could join him.
In July this year, those children, Vanarra, 25, and Socheata, 24, will be part of Australia's weightlifting team to contest the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July.
Socheata, who failed to qualify for the Delhi Commonwealth Games, will compete against the wishes of her parents who she says have "come around a little" after initially being totally opposed to the idea of their daughter doing something so "unlady-like" as weightlifting. It's a big weight off her shoulders knowing she has their support.
"My parents are from an Asian background so they are very much against me doing weightlifting because I am a female," Socheata told APN.
"They don't think weightlifting is very lady like, they're concerned I will hurt myself."
Socheata and her brother are coached and trained by Anthony Dove at the Hawthorn Weightlifting Club in Melbourne. Socheata, who will compete in the 48-53kg category in Glasgow, has a personal best of 93kg in the clean and jerk, but has lifted 95kg in training.
Vannara will contest his second Commonwealth Games after becoming the first Cambodian-born athlete to represent Australia in Delhi four years ago.
He lifted a total of 258kg to finish eighth behind gold medal winner Aricco Jumith, who totalled 276kgs.
Socheata said she still had some childhood memories of life growing up in the Cambodian province of Komdal.
"When I learned I was on the team I had all these flashbacks of how I got here (Australia)," she beamed.
"Our dad is always reminding us of our story and what the past was like and what we all went through to get here, so we never forget.
"But I will be competing for Australia, which is the country I call my home now."