King continues his father's legacy

King continues his father's legacy

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun takes part in the Bike for Mom event in ฺBangkok in 2015.
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun takes part in the Bike for Mom event in ฺBangkok in 2015.

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, who celebrates his 66th birthday on Saturday, has followed in the footsteps of his late father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, on several paths including sports.

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun takes part in the Bike for Mom event in Bangkok in 2015. photo: Patarachai Preechapanit

His Majesty was once known as the 'Football Prince' but is now renowned for his involvement in cycling.

King Rama X has also had shown keen interest in other sports since he was young.

The King's love for sports is obviously in his blood through his late father, a great athlete and patron of sports who passed away two years ago.

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

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

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

His father and sister were joint champions in a sailing event at the 1967 Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games, now the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

A fine footballer, His Majesty first played as a forward and later became a centre-back at Chitralada School, Milfield 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'.

The King declares open the 2007 World University Games in Bangkok. photo: Pawat Laopaisarntaksin

An annual football tournament is being held for more than two decades in honour of His Majesty -- the Mor Vor Kor Cup.

Mor Vor Kor are the initials of his name -- Maha Vajiralongkorn.

He is also the patron of the Amateur Muay Thai Association of Thailand.

The King, as a representative of his father or on his own, has presided over the opening ceremonies of several international sporting events including the 2007 SEA Games in Nakhon Ratchasima and the World University Games in Bangkok in the same year.

However, he is now an avid cyclist.

When he was the Crown Prince, he presided over the hugely popular Bike for Mom and Bike for Dad events in 2015 in honour of his parents.

The events attracted a large number of participants in every province across Thailand.

He graced these events not only to celebrate his parents' birthdays but also to encourage the Thai people to exercise for good health.

In fact, the King has long been a major supporter of Thai cycling.

"We have enjoyed success thanks to enormous support from [then] HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn," Gen Decha Hemkrasri, president of the Cycling Association of Thailand (CAT), once said.

The King prepares to sail in Pattaya in 1967.

The King has played a key role in the growth of the sport in the Kingdom, according to Decha.

He has been donating trophies for winners of the Thailand Championships since 2000, Decha said.

"Thanks to his support, the sport is now popular throughout the country and the association has more athletes," Decha said.

An example of his love for cycling was seen three years ago when he initiated the Bike for Mom and Bike for Dad events.

"The two events will remain in the hearts of the Thai people," Decha said.

Fittingly, His Majesty's daughters, Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha and Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, also love sports.

HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha took part in the Bike for Mom and Bike for Dad events, while HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana joined the Bike for Dad event.

HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha also likes running and horseback riding, among other sports.

HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana is more serious about sports. She has taken part in the Asian Games and SEA Games either as a badminton player or an equestrian rider.

As a shuttler, the Princess won gold in the women's team event at the 2005 SEA Games.

The down-to-earth Princess, who stayed at the athletes' village during the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea, prefers to be treated like other participants during international tournaments.

"They treat me like friends, a normal rider," the Princess said during the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, where she completed in an equestrian event.

"If they treat me as a princess I would not be here, I'd be in another stable, with beautiful decorations."

His Majesty participates in the Bike For Dad event. photo: seksan rojanamethakul

His Majesty during a football match. photo:

A photo displayed at the National Olympic Committee of Thailand headquarters shows His Majesty, standing centre, poses with teammates and opponents after a football match in 1978. photo: Thiti Wannamontha

The King presents the heavyweight championship award to Cuban boxer Felix Savon at the 1994 World Cup in Bangkok. photo: Suchate Sungsuwan

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