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SBD Global/January 21, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Names In The News

Violinist VANESSA MAE "is set to ski for Thailand at the Winter Olympics in Russia next month." The 35-year-old former child prodigy, whose father is Thai, "is one of two skiers due to represent the kingdom in Sochi" (AFP, 1/20). ... The legal battle over the National Rugby League side Cronulla Sharks drugs scandal "is set to intensify, with one of Sydney's highest-profile barristers" to defend suspended head coach SHANE FLANAGAN in his fight against the NRL. Queen's Counsel STUART LITTLEMORE, "who most recently represented disgraced Labor powerbroker" EDDIE OBEID, will advise Flanagan as he considers his legal position (Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH, 1/20). ... A-League Sydney FC player ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO "is weighing up his future," with "reports from Asia" claiming that Thai club PTT Rayong is "being considered." Goal Malaysia said that newly promoted side PTT Rayong "have made moves to sign the former Juventus captain and World Cup winner at the end of the A-League season" (FOX SPORTS, 1/21). ... Tri-Asia Phnom Penh FC "completed the signing" of former J.League midfielder MASAKAZU KIHARA of Japan, with the 26-year-old "inking a one-year deal that will see him start in the upcoming Metfone C-League season" (PHNOM PENH POST, 1/20).

IN LIMBO: Super Rugby side ACT Brumbies winger HENRY SPEIGHT's int'l exile could end this week when the Int'l Rugby Board "meets to determine if he's eligible to play for Australia." The Fijian-born "try-scoring machine's Wallabies dream has been sitting in limbo for more than a year as officials debate how long he has been living in Canberra." A three-man IRB panel "will decide this week to either immediately lift the ban that prevents Speight playing for Australia or delay his Test hopes until November" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 1/21).

GOING TO SOCHI: Chinese President XI JINGPING "will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi." The foreign ministry said that Xi would be in Russia from Feb. 6-8 for the Opening Ceremony. Xi’s decision to attend "is a positive development" for Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN, after U.S. President BARACK OBAMA and his German counterpart JOACHIM GAUCK both said that "they would not travel to Russia for the Games" (SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 1/20).
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