The funding for the scholarships comes from the share of Olympic Games television rights revenue allocated to the National Olympic Committees (NOC) and is managed by Olympic Solidarity. 14 sailors were awarded Olympic Scholarships for Athens, amongst them Rodion LUKA and Georgiy LEONCHUK (UKR) who went on to win the silver medal in the 49er.
The aim of Olympic Solidarity is to organize aid to NOCs recognized by the IOC, in particular those which have the greatest need of it. This aid takes the form of programmes between the IOC and the NOCs, in partnership with the International Sports Federations, if necessary. The scholarships' first objective is to allow the athletes to qualify and prepare themselves in the best conditions for the Olympic Games, in order to fulfil their dream.
The 20 sailors choosen to receive the scholarship to campaign for Qingdao include established names who are already amongst the medal favourites, as well up and coming names from sailing's younger generation.
Poland's Maciej GRABOWSKI is one of the most highly regarded sailors in the Laser fleet, and has shown good form this year. After victory early in the European season in Palma he went on to take second place at the Europeans on his home waters before posting an impressive fourth place at the recent Olympic Test Event in Qingdao. Similarly, Slovenia's Finn star Gasper VINCEC also posted top five finishes at the Europeans and in Qingdao.
Austria's young 49er crew Nico DELLE-KARTH and Nikolaus RESCH currently lie 13th in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, although they have risen as high as two over the past 18 months. In Athens the pair came in tenth, a feat they repeated at the Worlds in Moscow, Russia a year later. The highlight of their year so far has been a silver medal finish at the North Americans. Both aged just 22, the Austrian pair have already shown the potential which could lead them on to great things.
In contrast, Bermuda's Peter BROMBY has experience rather than youth on his side. The 42 year old has competed at the last four Olympic Games in the Star, narrowly missing out on the medals in Sydney 2000 when he and crew Lee WHITE came in fourth.
Ricardo SANTOS (BRA) suffered similar heartbreak in Athens as he fell out of the podium positions in the last race of the series. SANTOS has shown he has quickly got to grips with the new RS:X equipment, finishing in the top ten in the recent Worlds in Torbole.
Six of the sailors awarded scholarships come from Asian nations, up from four in 2004. Amongst them are two stars who first announced their arrival at the ISAF Youth Worlds, a championship renowned for giving the sailing world an early glimpse of future Olympic Champions. Singapore's Roy Junhao TAY won a silver medal in 2001 in the 420, and has since teamed up with Peiming CHUNG to launch a 470 campaign, whilst Hong Kong's Chi Ho HO was crowned Youth World Champion in the Boys' Windsurfer in 1999.
The table below shows the 20 sailors selected for scholarships for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
|Austria||Nico DELLE-KARTH and Nikolaus RESCH||49er|
|Brazil||Ricardo SANTOS||Men's RS:X|
|Croatia||Sime FANTELA and Igor MARENIC||Men's 470|
|Cyprus||Andreas CARIOLOU||Men's RS:X|
|Czech Republic||Veronika FENCLOVA||Laser Radial|
|Hong Kong||Chi Ho HO||Men's RS:X|
|Singapore||Roy Junhao TAY and Peiming CHUNG||Men's 470|
|Singapore||Li Ying TOH||Women's 470|
|Turkey||Ertugrul ICINGIR||Men's RS:X|
For the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, more than 900 individual scholarships (652 men and 282 women) were allocated to athletes from more than 140 National Olympic Committees (NOCs).