Thursday, January 10, 2008

Royal touch on the sports field

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Stories about princes and princesses have always attracted public attention, as has their participation at the Southeast Asian Games in Thailand.

In one of the oldest monarchies in the world, Thailand's Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana became a real superstar on the badminton court.

Paired with Nuttapon Nakthong, the doubles won over Laos' Khonesanith Inthavahn and Bouphakesone Lomany in the women's team quarterfinals. The princess was rested, however, when Thailand bowed down to Indonesia 3-2 last Sunday.

During the medal presentation most cameras focussed on her rather than the winning team.

The Oxford University graduate said she chose to compete not just to win, but to give her whole-hearted best to all Thai athletes, especially track and field and soccer teams.

The 20-year-old princess, known for her social activity, supported her compatriots at several different events.

Princes Sirivannavari is the youngest daughter of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. Her grandfather King Bhumibol Adulyadej is an avid sportsman who won a gold medal in sailing at the fourth Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (now the SEA Games) in 1967.

The other monarch in the Games is Brunei Darussalam Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah who competed in the 9-ball pool singles and doubles, and the 8-ball pool doubles.

Prince Billah and partner Sieu Loong Wong lost to Singapore's Chan Keng Kwang and Toh Lian Han in the first round of 9-ball doubles last Saturday. Over 30 Bruneian athletes and officials came to watch and cheer their prince on.

The 33-year-old prince, who also graduated from Oxford University, is a pool enthusiast and has participated in several international pool tournaments.

In 2006, he joined the world 9-ball pool championship in the Philippines, and competed in the same event this year, held Nov. 3-11.

The prince's achievements include reaching the semifinals of the 9-ball Brunei Invitational Cup by beating Taiwan's Chang Jung-ling.

Prince Billah arrived last Tuesday on a Boeing 767 with his wife Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah and entourage including more than 100 officials.

The group reportedly staying at the Dusit Princess Hotel.

While the prince is staying at the Dusit Princess Hotel, the Thai princess has opted to mingle with others at the Athletes' Village, at the Suranaree University of Technology.

"I'll try to remain normal and not to aim high, but I intend to do my best," Princess Sirivannavari said.

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