16 July 2012

Olympic Scholarship: A Helping Hand to Olympic Hopefuls

London 2012 – Record number of athletes benefiting from Olympic scholarships

IOC announces that a record 1,220 athletes from 175 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are currently preparing for the London 2012 Olympic Games with the help of Olympic Scholarships provided by the Olympic Solidarity Commission*.

Olympic Solidarity launched the Olympic Scholarship Programme in 1992 to provide substantial assistance to elite international athletes, particularly those with limited financial means, who are nominated by their NOCs. The programme offers a range of assistance, including top-class training facilities and coaches at home or abroad, medical assistance, board and lodging costs, and fixed subsidies to enable athletes to compete in Olympic qualification events.

Some of the scholarship holders who will be in London are:

Sabine Hazboun, Swimming, Palestine
Jumah Bayan, Swimming, Syria
Malick Fall, Swimming, Senegal
Dana Haider Touran, Taekwondo, Jordan
Ella Nicholas, Canoe, New Zealand
Alexandra Escobar, Weightlifting, Ecuador
Soumyajit Ghosh, Table Tennis, Bangladesh
Paul Etia N’Doumbe, Rowing, Cameroun
Ana Sofía Gómez Porras, Gymnastics, Guatemala

In the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Games, a total of 1,088 athletes were awarded Olympic Scholarships. Of those, 591 (202 women; 289 men) from 151 NOCs qualified for the Games. A total of 81 medals were won by these athletes.

Among them were Abhinav Bindra (10m air rifle), who became the first Indian to win an individual Olympic gold medal. Bindra used the scholarship to train for two years at the national training centre in Colorado Springs, USA. Another scholarship holder who made the podium in Beijing was Afghanistan’s first Olympic medallist, Rohullah Nikpai, who won bronze in the men’s under-58kg taekwondo competition.

This Video News Release (VNR) includes footage and interviews with the following athletes:

Palestine Sabine Hazboun, competing in swimming
Syria Jumah Bayan, competing in swimming

In addition the VNR contains statements by the IOC President Jacques Rogge in English and French and Head of Olympic Solidarity at the IOC, Olivier Niamkey.

Also there is archive material of athlete Maria Mutola, Olympic Scolarship holder from Mozambique, winning gold in the 800m at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

*Olympic Solidarity is the body that ensures that talented athletes, regardless of their financial status, have an equal chance of reaching the Olympic Games and succeeding in the Olympic arena. It is responsible for administering and managing the National Olympic Committees’ share of the revenue from the sale of broadcasting rights to the Olympic Games (the total budget of the Olympic Solidarity for 2009-2012 is US$311 million). Working in particular with the most disadvantaged NOCs and their Continental Associations, Olympic Solidarity uses this money to develop a range of assistance programmes.