In Cambodia, even today, the gender stereotype keeps many women from pursuing their dreams and passion. Certain fields, including sport, are considered off-limits to women. Yet, two Cambodian sisters are overcoming the social barrier to achieve their goal of becoming the fastest women on two wheels in the region. There are many hurdles on their journey, but both refuse to veer from breaking tradition.
THE alarm clock jolts Heng Sivgech out of bed at 5am. She whips up breakfast for her family before diving headlong into her Spandex and hitting the road for training. She is not alone in her quest. Alongside her is Heng Sivlang, her younger sister and another budding champion cyclist.
At the age of 40, Sivgech is a mother of five while sister Sivlang , 39, is also a mother of four. Yet, the two sisters are already nationally known as the fastest female cyclists in Cambodia since setting a record in their first race in 2011 – and none of the other pretenders to the cycling throne have come close to breaking their prestigious records yet.
Born gifted in sports, Sivlang’s flirtation in various fields won her recognition from an early age. Then Sivlang was introduced to cycling for the very first time by her husband as a hobby. But ever since she got in the saddle, Sivlang realised her destiny in cycling.
“I’ve always known that I love sport but little did I realise that I could find my unique talent in cycling until I participated in my first race in the women’s category at Phnom Basset in 2011 — and I was the fastest among all the champion cyclists,” said Sivlang at the Flying Bike 2, a bike shop founded by her husband and part-owned with his brother.
While most people take cycling to de-stress, Sivgech took cycling beyond mere hobby to a passion she wants to master.
“Cycling has always been my favorite thing to do. It helped me to discover not only my dream but also to become a professional cyclist. It has made me into who I am today.”
Sivlang and Sivgech have no hesitation showing their powerful ambitions on two wheels, by winning countless races in international bike racing around Southeast Asia.
Both are determined to reach global recognition.