SOCHI RUSSIA – Until now the only Thai to ski at the Winter Olympics was academic Prawat Nagvajara, who competed in Salt Lake City in 2002 and at Pragelato in Italy in 2006.
The kingdom’s Olympic Committee said the two Thai competitors in Sochi will be Kanes Sucharitakul, 21, who lives in France and
Vanessa Vanakorn, better known as Vanessa Mae, is an eminent violinist whose father hailed from Thailand. She managed to qualify on the last day of qualification by meeting the B standard in a couple of races in Slovenia.
Kanes, who was educated at England’s Cambridge University and will turn 22 next Thursday, is due to compete in the men’s giant slalom and slalom events on February 19 and February 22 respectively
Thailand’s team leader Dr Varin Tansupasiri, the deputy secretary-general of the Olympic Committee of Thailand, said though both athletes stand no chance of returning with medals, it is a source of great pride to have athletes from Thailand competing in the Sochi Games.
“It’s a matter of fact that there is no snow in Thailand, but what really counts is that our athletes have qualified for the Winter Olympic Games. Though it’s quite certain that both of them will return with no medals, they have already made the country proud,” he said.
Prawat Nagvajara was the first Thai to take part in the Winter Olympics, in Salt Lake City, US, in 2002. He made another attempt in the Turin Games in Italy, in 2006. Thailand had no participants in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Canada, but can now boast two athletes in Sochi, Russia.
Thailand is not the only sun-drenched nation sending athletes to Sochi’s icy slopes — Jamaica’s bobsleigh team have been given the nod to compete at what will be their third Winter Games.