The Sochi Network

Vanessa Mae to represent Thailand at Winter Olympics

The Sochi Network

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Legendary violinist Vanessa Mae has qualified for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where she will represent Thailand.

Mae’s manager Giles Holland told the BBC: "It would appear that she's done it. She's done it by a whisker, but she's done it."

The news was later confirmed by the FIS, skiing's governing body, whose representative Ana Jelusic said that Mae "ticks all the boxes," having gained the required level of points in at least five slalom or giant slalom races.

Mae, 35, is British but her father is Thai, meaning she is eligible to represent the South East Asian nation.

And, after putting her music career on hold for 12 months, she has met the FIS eligibility criteria to compete for a country that does not have a world top-500 winter athlete.

A child prodigy classical violinist, Mae became a crossover superstar in her teens, going on to sell tens of millions of albums worldwide.

Having skied for many years, she moved to the Swiss Alpine resort of Zermatt in 2009, where she has been fine-tuning her moves on the slopes.

Mae does not meet regular FIS qualification standards – which require a skier to place in the top 30 or top half of international events, whichever is lower – and certainly not Britain’s more stringent qualification standards, which demand athletes place in the world top 30 during the qualifying period.

Instead she switched to her father’s homeland, and will compete under his name as Vanessa Vanakorn.

To do so, she had to pass a second set of qualifying criteria introduced for nations without any top 500-ranked athletes in any discipline. That requirement is to produce an average of 140 points or less over five international events, with the number of points inversely related to performance.

Mae had previously admitted that, despite being a "keen skier" since childhood, she had little chance of competing for Great Britain, whose top female Alpine racer is Chemmy Alcott.

She has instead snuck in via regulations introduced in 1990 to allow nations without a culture for wintersports to participate in the Games – much like the summer Olympics.

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