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Thai professor of Drexel University, Philadelphia recalls his Olympic experiences

MIKE MAZZEO Philadelphia Daily News 01.02.2010 17:14
Prawat Nagvajara

Prawat Nagvajara

Former Olympian Prawat Nagvajara isn't regarded as a hero in his native Thailand. In fact, he doesn't even consider himself the best athlete in his own house.

That distinction, Nagvajara says, belongs to his wife Gina, a former captain of the Dartmouth women's ice hockey team. Although, even his wife would have to acknowledge Nagvajara is the most prominent.

Eight years ago, Nagvajara, 51, a cross country skier, became the first and only Thai native to compete in the Winter Olympics. He alone represented his country in 2006 as well.

Nagvajara won't be competing in the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Instead, he'll be watching, rather intently, on his television set.

"People in Thailand don't know much about the Winter Games. If you were there, you'd understand," the softspoken Drexel University associate computer-engineering professor said inside his office at Bossone Center. "My older brothers, Piyawat and Panant [who live in Thailand], still think that skiing is Alpine skiing."

Winter Olympians from warm-weather countries have seemingly captured attention for more than 20 years, with the performances of the popular Jamaican bobsled team and British ski jumper Michael "Eddie the Eagle" Edwards at the 1988 Games in Calgary.


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