Cambodian-American swimmer Pou Sovijja has been selected to represent Cambodia at the Olympic Games in Brazil this year.
The 21-year-old swimmer says he was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to represent his homeland at the prestigious event.
"To go to the Olympic Games is a pinnacle of all my sports competitions and everything," he told VOA's Khmer Service. "To see all my hard work pay off like that and to be able to represent my home country is very exciting."
Sovijja, a Brown University student studying math and biology, said he hopes he can break his previous record for the men's 100-meter freestyle at the games.
"My major goal is first to go out there and have fun, and I expect to break my Cambodian record," he said. "Getting a medal might be out of the question for now, but as long as I can improve on my time and enjoy the experience, then I'd have succeeded."
Over the past several years, Sovijja has practiced with the Cambodian swimming team and represented the country at numerous competitions, including the FINA World Championships in Russia and the Southeast Asian Games last year.
Pou Sovijja hopes to break his previous record for the men's 100-meter freestyle at the Olympic Games in Rio.
"Everyone has been incredibly supportive, and I really couldn't have done it without any of my growing up," he said.
Sovijja's father is Cambodian and his mother is Thai.
He began swimming at a young age, and says Cambodia feels more like home than the United States, his country of birth.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Khmer Service.