King of Sports

The new monarch has shown a keen interest in a variety of sports and became renowned recently for his involvement in cycling.

The King learned horseback riding when he was about 11 years old and soon became a capable rider.

While studying in Thailand and abroad, His Majesty played several sports with friends, including football, rugby and rowing.

His Majesty also competed in sailing with King Bhumibol and his elder sister Princess Ubolratana when they were staying at Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin.

A fine footballer, the King first played as a forward and later became a centre-back at Chitralada School in Bangkok, Millfield School in England and the Royal Military College, Duntroon in Australia.

Because of his ability in the sport, he earned the nickname, the “Football Prince”.

An annual football tournament has been held for more than two decades in honour of the then-Crown Prince — the Mor Vor Kor Cup. Mor Vor Kor are the initials of his name — Maha Vajiralongkorn.

He is also patron of the Amateur Muay Thai Association of Thailand and winners of the Sports Authority of Thailand’s Muay Thai fighter of the year awards receive his trophy.

An avid cyclist, His Majesty presided over the hugely popular “Bike for Mom” and “Bike for Dad” events last year in honour of his parents. The events attracted millions of participants in every province across Thailand.

His Majesty graced these events not only to celebrate his parents’ birthdays but to encourage Thais to exercise for good health.

The King has played a key role in lifting the sport’s profile in the country.

“We have enjoyed success thanks to enormous support from His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn," said Gen Decha Hemkrasri, president of the Cycling Association of Thailand.

He has donated trophies for winners of the Thailand Championships since 2000, Gen Decha said.

He added: “Thanks to his support, the sport is now popular throughout the country and the association has more athletes.”

HM also wanted to see cycling competitions held throughout the country so that people from all walks of life have a chance to participate, according to Gen Decha.

As a result, Thailand Championships events have been held in every region of the country.

(Compiled from Bangkok Post’s special publications Long Live the King, December 1, 2016; Guardian of the Nation, December 4, 2016; A Family of Sporting Royals, December 1, 2016; and 63rd Birthday Anniversary of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, published by the Ha Thanwa Maharaj Foundation, 2015)