Paradorn Srichaphan’s fame in Thailand knows no bounds so few can be surprised the former world no.9 is set to become the latest sports star to move into politics.
Now aged 31 and recently divorced from Miss Universe 2005, Natalie Glebova, Srichaphan announced he would run in the next general election under the party banner of Chart Pattana Puea Pandin, a new political party created by coalition partners of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Suwat Liptapanlop, president of Thailand’s Lawn Tennis Association is also the de-facto leader of the new Chart Pattana Puea Pandin Party.
However Srichaphan insisted he was not invited or coerced by anybody to take a political path but made his decision because he saw problems in the governance of sport in Thailand and chose this party as it has been vigorously promoting sports.
“No one has persuaded me to enter politics,” said Srichaphan who eight years ago became the first Asian male player to graduate to the top ten on the ATP World Tour.
“I want to use my knowledge and capabilities to solve problems and help sport in the country It's my own intention to do so as there are still problems in the country’s sports development.
“If I can be useful for the country, I would be happy. So I would like to put sport on the national agenda. I want to use my knowledge to help.”
Srichaphan sees sport as a revenue earner, an instrument for national unity and a great alternative to drugs for youth.
Making his announcement in Bangkok, he stressed a desire for sports promotion to be part of Thailand’s national agenda and believed his experience would be beneficial to that end.
Elections are due to take place in early July but Srichaphan insisted before then his party’s leadership would decide if he should run in a constituency or be a party list candidate.
Srichaphan only retired from tennis officially last June but ceased to be a competitive player after wrist problems forced him to miss nearly all of the 2007 season. Any chance of a comeback ended when he broke both hands in a motorcycle accident. He remains coach of Thailand’s Davis Cup team.