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25 May 2004, 05:00 pm
Olympic Solidarity Scholarships
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Irina KONSTANTINOVA (BUL)

Athens 2004

Olympic Solidarity is playing a key role for many of the athletes on the 2004 Olympic campaign trail, enabling them to aspire to the Olympic dream.
Olympic Solidarity is the development arm of the International Olympic Committee whose objectives are as set out in Rule 8 of the Olympic Charter:

Rule 8, Olympic Charter
"The aim of Olympic Solidarity is to organise aid to National Olympic Committees (NOCs) recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in particular those which have the greatest need of it. This aid takes the form of programmes elaborated jointly by the IOC and the NOCs, with the technical assistance of the International Federations (IFs), if necessary."

Funding for Olympic Solidarity and its programmes is derived from a share of the television rights for the broadcast of the Olympic Games. Intended for the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), this share has always been Olympic Solidarity's only income. To give an idea of the level of income, Olympic Solidarity's current quadrennial plan (2001- 2004) has a development and assistance budget totalling US$ 209,484,000, which is 740% higher than the first four- year plan (1985-1988). This budget is distributed amongst the various Olympic Solidarity programmes, one of which is known as "Olympic Scholarship for Athletes - Athens 2004".

The total Olympic Solidarity budget for the quadrennium 2001 - 2004 is US$13,700,000.

Whilst ISAF has seen the number of scholarships granted to sailors increasing over the years, competition is tough as the sailors will be up against many other athletes across all Olympic sports from a particular country. In principle any international level athlete who practises an individual Olympic sport is eligible for consideration, but a minimum technical level is required, which interprets as the athlete must have the technical sports level to qualify for the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad in Athens, and proof of the athlete's technical level must be shown through results obtained at national and international competitions. Athletes who have previously won a medal at an Olympic Games, or a Gold Medal at a World Championships are not eligible.

The principle objective of this programme is the qualification of the Olympic scholarship holders for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and so far for the sailors their performance has been outstanding.

Fourteen sailors are benefiting from the scholarship programme, and so far their respective nations have qualified in each of the events for which they are campaigning:

Class Name ISAF Sailor ID Nation Qualified for Athens Scholarship Holder Qualified Country
Double-Handed Dinghy Men - 470 Gideon KLIGER ISRGK Yes - 2002 Yes
Double-Handed Dinghy Men - 471 Udi GAL ISRUG1 Yes - 2002 Yes
Windsurfer Men - Mistral Ho Chi HO HKGCH1 Yes - 2003 Yes
Windsurfer Men - Mistral Premyslav MIARCZYNKI POLPM1 Yes - 2002 No
Windsurfer Men - Mistral Oka SULAKSANA INAIS1 Yes - 2003 Yes
Single-Handed Dinghy Open - Laser Allan JULIE SEYAJ1 Yes - 2003 Yes
Single-Handed Dinghy Open - Laser Kevin LIM Yes - 2004 Yes
Windsurfer Men - Mistral Irina KONSTANTINOVA BULIK1 Yes - 2003 Yes
Double-Handed Dinghy Open - 49er Rodion LUKA UKRRL1 Yes - 2002 Yes
Double-Handed Dinghy Open - 49er Georgiy LEONCHUCK UKRGL1 Yes - 2002 Yes
Single-Handed Dinghy Women - Europe Florencia CERUTTI ARGFC2 Yes - 2004 No
Single-Handed Dinghy Women - Europe Tatania DROZDOVSKAJA BLRTD1 Yes - 2003 Yes
Keelboat Men - Star Peter BROMBY BERPB1 Yes - 2002 Yes
Keelboat Women - Yngling Paula LEWIN BERPL1 Yes - 2002 Yes


The final Olympic Qualification Regatta for the Single-Handed Dinghy Event - Laser, the 2004 World Championships in Bitez, Turkey saw Kevin LIM qualify Malaysia and secure his slot on the startline in Athens. Kevin and the Laser class celebrated their Olympic debut in Savannah in 1996, where as a 20 year old he finished 38, moving onto place 24 at the 2000 Olympic Games. As recipient of the scholarship, Kevin receives US$1,200 per month. Last year Kevin became the first Malaysian to win the Asia Pacific Laser Championships. With Kevin's inclusion on the Olympic Squad, Malaysia will be fielding a total of 22 athletes across the sports in Athens.

Back in 1999, Ho Chi HO won the Mistral Boys event at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Finland. An outstanding performance in Finland saw him dominate the 11 race series with 4 bullets. Since then Ho has continued to compete on the international circuit, competing at the 2000 Olympic Games where he placed 28 and climbing his way up the ISAF World Sailing Rankings to reach a career best of 6 in August 2002.

Irina KONSTANTINOVA is on form, and currently sits in her highest world ranking position for over two years. Her second place at the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR at the beginning of 2004, no doubt adding to her confidence.

For Oka SULAKSANA 2004 marks his tenth anniversary of international competition, with 1994 being the year he competed at the (then) IYRU World Boardsailing Championships in Gimli, Canada placing 70. It was then onto the 1996 Olympics, where he placed 13 and the 2000 Olympics where he placed 19. However, form in Athens is looking good, with an 11 at the 2002 Test Event, and his highest ever position on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings.

Allan JULIE (SEY) has been a long-term recipient of the Scholarship programme, with support given previously to his Sydney 2000 campaign. However, Allan is a prime example of how the programme benefits sailors and enables them to campaign full time. He started where he meant to go on with his first international appearance at the 1996 Olympic Regatta, placing 37 out of the record 56 boat fleet, a result which also propelled him onto the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. Onto Sydney, and with scholarship funding behind him, Allan was able to campaign full time and convert his result to a 28. Allan has frequently appeared amongst the world's top 20 Laser sailors, and most recently finished 37 in the 145 boat fleet at the 2004 Laser World Championships.

The Scholarships provide athletes with the funding to enable them to train and continue academic studies, and receive a budget to cover the following:

- Access to appropriate training facilities
- A coach specialised in the relevant sporting discipline
- Regular medical and scientific assistance and control
- Accident and illness insurance
- Board and lodging costs
- Adequate pocket money

The following items are not covered by an Olympic scholarship:

- Academic studies
- Personal clothing and equipment
- Medical interventions not covered by the insurance policy
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