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Singapore athlete Raoul Sharma wins hearts among SEA Games volunteers in Cambodia

SINGAPORE - When Raoul Sharma landed in Cambodia on May 1, the 19-year-old member of Singapore men’s cricket squad was hoping to win medals at the SEA Games.

And he did make the country proud when his team won the sixes tournament in Phnom Penh on Monday.

But little did he know that he would also be winning the hearts of many Cambodian SEA Games volunteers during his stay. In a video that has gone viral on TikTok, a female Games volunteer is seen running up to Sharma when he leaves the team tent. She asks to have a photograph taken with him and he obliges, before several other volunteers follow suit. One of them even gives the slightly bemused athlete a hug.

Sharma, who has returned to Singapore, told The Straits Times: “I had no idea what was going on. I just stepped out of my team tent to go to the toilet when one of the volunteers ran up to ask me to take a picture with them.”

He added that he posed with around 20 to 30 Cambodian volunteers, who were “very forthcoming, kind and friendly”.

Sharma said he learnt about the viral video only when a friend sent him the link.

The video, which was posted five days ago, has since clocked 1.1 million views.

A TikTok user commented that “it’s nice to see these athletes giving their time for the fans”.

Many others swooned over the 1.88m-tall cricketer’s good looks, with some suggesting that they would like to sign up to be a Games volunteer.

Sharma, who has played cricket since he was seven, said he has not received such “star treatment” in Singapore before.

“Some of my friends who have seen the video are pulling my leg over this, but for me it’s just a funny and unique thing to experience,” he said, adding that his adoring Cambodian fans have certainly made his first tournament with the senior team very memorable for him.