Thai quartet eye top 50 spots in Pyeongchang

Thai quartet eye top 50 spots in Pyeongchang

Cross-country skiers Karen and Mark Chanloung.
Cross-country skiers Karen and Mark Chanloung.

Thai athletes are ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics as officials hope they will finish in the top 50 in their events.

Four Thais will compete in the Feb 5-29 Pyeongchang Games in South Korea -- siblings Mark and Karen Chanloung in cross-country skiing, and Nicola Zanon and Alexia Schenkel in Alpine skiing.

Mark, Karen and Nicola are Thais of Italian blood, while Alexia is a Swiss-Thai.

They have gained enough points from competitions between July 1 and Jan 21 to secure berths at the Games.

Poomchai Vichiansing, vice-president and secretary-general of the Ski and Snowboard Association of Thailand, told a press conference yesterday that the quartet were now fit for the Pyeongchang tournament.

"Their physical conditions are 100 percent fit. They all have experience as they have competed on the international stage," he said.

"However, there are a lot of good athletes at the Winter Olympics. If they can finish in the top 50, it would be a great achievement."

With four representatives at the Pyeongchang Games, it will be Thailand's biggest contingent in one Winter Olympics.

Since the nation's official debut in the Winter Olympics in 2002, Thai athletes have appeared in every edition with the exception of the 2010 edition in Vancouver.

At the 2014 Games in Sochi, there were two Thai athletes -- Kanes Sucharitakul and British violinist Vanessa Mae who competed as Vanessa Vanakorn, using her Thai father's surname.

"It will be more interesting for the Thai people as they will have four compatriots to cheer for at the Winter Olympics," Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat told yesterday's press conference.

"I believe they will be able to make Thais happy."

Meanwhile, a record 2,925 athletes from 92 countries and regions are set to participate in the Pyeongchang Olympics, the local organising committee said yesterday, making the event the largest Winter Games in history.

The athletes will compete next month for 102 gold medals, four more than the number at the 2014 Sochi Games, the current largest Winter Olympics, which boasted over 2,800 athletes from 88 countries and regions.

The South Korean government announced yesterday that US Vice President Mike Pence will lead his country's contingent, while Germany will be represented by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. bangkok post/kyodo

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