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Guess who's an Olympic athlete?

 Actress Geena Davis is no Olympian. But she almost was. -- PHOTO: YOUTUBE SCREENGRAB
 Actress Geena Davis is no Olympian. But she almost was. -- PHOTO: YOUTUBE SCREENGRAB
Silver medallist Stanislawa Walasiewczowna, or Stella Walsh as she is better known, won her 100m dash for Poland in 1932 although she had grown up in the United States. -- PHOTO: AP/CLEVELAND.COM
Silver medallist Stanislawa Walasiewczowna, or Stella Walsh as she is better known, won her 100m dash for Poland in 1932 although she had grown up in the United States. -- PHOTO: AP/CLEVELAND.COM
George S. Patton competing in the 1912 Olympics held in Stockholm, Sweden. -- PHOTO: THE PATTON SABER WEBSITE
George S. Patton competing in the 1912 Olympics held in Stockholm, Sweden. -- PHOTO: THE PATTON SABER WEBSITE
 Kenyan Philip Boit. -- PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF PHILIP BOIT
 Kenyan Philip Boit. -- PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF PHILIP BOIT
British violinist Vanessa Mae will represent Thailand in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.  -- ST FILE PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
British violinist Vanessa Mae will represent Thailand in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.  -- ST FILE PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

So, British violinist Vanessa Mae will represent Thailand in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. The Singapore-born 35-year-old, whose father is Thai and mother is Chinese, will be competing in the slalom races, according to reports in BBC and the British papers. Best known as a sexy pop violinist, the musician has been skiing longer than she has been playing the instrument: She started skiing at four and picked up the violin at five.

Although she is a British citizen, she also carries a Thai passport and will compete under her father's surname as Vanessa Vanakorn.

Unusually, she is not the first Thai to represent the country at the Winter Olympics. The first to do so was Dr Prawat Nagvajara, a professor of electrical engineering at Drexel University in Pennsylvania. The 56-year-old competed at a cross country sprint skiing event at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. He finished 68th out of 71 competitors.

Here are some other unexpected Olympians.

1. Kenyan Philip Boit comes from Olympic stock - his uncle Mike won the 800m bronze at 1972 Olympics.

Although Philip trained as a middle distance runner, he actually competed in the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics as a skier in the 10km cross country race. He had no prior experience in skiing and his training was sponsored by sportswear company Nike, which got its money's worth in terms of media coverage of the first Kenyan to represent the country at the Winter Olympics.

Boit finished last in 92nd place, a full 20 minutes after gold medallist Norwegian Bjorn Daehlie. The latter hugged Boit at the finishing line and was so moved by the athlete's dedication that he named his first son Daehlie Boit.

2. Remember the 1993 comedy Cool Runnings? Well that movie was based on a real story about the first Jamaican bobsled team to make it to the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

There's a sequel to the story. The two-man bobsled team actually qualified for this year's Sochi games but are currently short on funds. The Olympics organisers have agreed to pay for some travel costs, but the team have to raise another US$80,000 (S$102,000). The team have got support from an unexpected quarter: the Dogecoin community, an online group creating a currency similar to Bitcoin, rallied around them and raised US$30,000 in two days.

3. George S. Patton is known as the foul-mouthed blustery general who helped lead the United States to victory in World War II.

As a 26-year-old cavalry officer, he represented his country in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics in the modern pentathlon event. He actually did fairly well, coming in third in riding, third in cross country running, fourth in swimming and sixth in fencing.

He was within shot of a medal until the shooting event. Competitors were to fire 10 shots at a target and Patton's target showed eight tightly clustered shots - he claimed two shots went through the bullet holes. Judges disagreed and he finished in 21st place on the shooting range.

4. Silver medallist Stanislawa Walasiewczowna, or Stella Walsh as she is better known, won her 100m dash for Poland in 1932 although she had grown up in the United States, and had wanted to represent her adopted homeland.

But the controversy over Walsh actually came much later, after she died from a gunshot in a bungled mugging in Cleveland in 1980. The autopsy report on Walsh, leaked by the coroner's office, revealed that the female Olympian had male sex organs. She had both male and female chromosomes, thanks to a condition called mosaicism.

5. Actress Geena Davis is no Olympian. But she almost was. In 1999, she tried out for the US women's Olympic archery team. By then she had already won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Accidental Tourist (1988). She was 40 when she discovered archery and trained six hours a day with a professional coach for two years before trying out for the team.

She got as far as the semifinal trials and finished 24th out of 28 competitors.

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