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Phuket: Vanessa-Mae trains for Thai Olympic team

Phuket: Vanessa-Mae trains for Thai Olympic team

OLYMPICS: Violinist Vanessa-Mae has confirmed that she is in training to compete for Thailand in ski events at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 22 January 2013, 06:14PM

Music star Vanessa-Mae has confirmed she is training to compete in skiing for Thailand at the 2014 Olympics in Russia.

Music star Vanessa-Mae has confirmed she is training to compete in skiing for Thailand at the 2014 Olympics in Russia.

The 34-year-old violinist, known for mixing classical music with pop, has a long-stated desire to represent Thailand at the Games.

A British citizen, Vanessa-Mae is half Thai. Her father, Vorapong Vanakorn, is Thai, her mother, Pamela Tan-Nicholson, is Chinese, and now a British citizen through re-marriage.

Vanessa-Mae, whose full name is Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson, is a keen downhill skier. In 1999, she applied to become a Thai citizen with a view to representing the kingdom in skiing.

“People are surprised when they see me skiing – a classical violinist, Oriental, who has lived in the city all her life,” Vanessa-Mae told Reuters.

“But it has been my dream to be a ski bum since I was 14. This is something I am determined to do.”

Vanessa-Mae wanted to represent Thailand in ski events at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, but her dream of becoming a professional international skier did not materialise. Thai authorities at that time requested that she give up her British passport in exchange for a Thai passport.

The Foreign Ministry relented and gave her a special passport in 2002, granted to those with special talents. The Olympic Committee of Thailand confirmed in 2010 that it had agreed to Vanessa-Mae’s request to represent Thailand at Sochi.

“I wanted to compete for Thailand because there is a part of me which I have never celebrated – being Thai,” said Vanessa-Mae.

“My father, like most Thais, has never skied but he’s really excited about me doing this, as is the Thai Olympic Committee.”

Vanessa-Mae has been training in Zermatt, Switzerland, for the past three years in the hope of making it to the Games in Sochi, a city on Russia’s Black Sea coast near the border with Georgia, in February 2014.

The International Ski Federation said that Vanessa-Mae needed a minimum of five starts in Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) competitions and certain points to qualify for the Olympics.

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“She has a full year to quality and there are many events, so there are plenty of options still,” FIS spokeswoman Riikka Rakic told Reuters.

Vanessa-Mae has taken a year’s sabbatical from music to concentrate on skiing.

“When it comes to music I am a perfectionist but when it is skiing, I have no delusions about a podium or even being in the top 100 in the world,” she said.

“Of course there is a risk that I could break something, but life is short and you have to go for it. Just to qualify for the Olympics in my hobby would be a dream come true for me.”

The violinist intends to return to music after the Olympics.

“It’s time for a new album but doing this will give me a new perspective,” she said.

“Living my dream of being a ski bum is great but the best job in the world is being on stage, making music.”

Vanessa-Mae would be only the second Thai to compete at the Winter Olympics, if she qualifies.

Academic Prawat Nagvajara represented the kingdom in cross-country skiing at Salt Lake City 2002 and the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.

Read the original Bangkok Post story here.

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