SEA Games: Challenging the authorities in sports

Faiq Bolkiah (left) and Khairy Jamaluddin are two royal descendants that will be participating in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
Faiq Bolkiah (left) and Khairy Jamaluddin are two royal descendants that will be participating in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.PHOTO: ST FILE, INSTAGRAM/KHAIRY JAMALUDDIN

It is not often that you can tell your friends and family that you took on a king or princess, but some SEA Games athletes can.

Ever since the inaugural South-east Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games in 1959, the biennial event has seen royal descendants participate in sports which pit them against people of different backgrounds.

Thailand, for example, have been represented by at least two royalties. The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej won the OK dinghy class in sailing at the 1967 Bangkok SEAP Games, while Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana - the only daughter of King Maha Vajiralongkorn - clinched the badminton team gold at the 2005 Manila SEA Games.

The trend is set to continue with two influential athletes at the Aug 19-30 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

FAIQ BOLKIAH

The Brunei national football team captain is the nephew of Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei. He announced himself at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, when Brunei finished bottom of their six-team group. Royal blood aside, the 19-year-old is a footballing prospect, having already recorded appearances for the youth sides of English Premier League clubs Southampton, Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester City.

KHAIRY JAMALUDDIN

Despite having his polo qualifications challenged by Johor Crown Prince Ismail Idris after his inclusion in Malaysia's polo squad was announced, he is set to be the first minister in the region to take part in the SEA Games. The 41-year-old Youth and Sports Minister of Malaysia previously played in international matches, and in July's Malaysia Open.