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62OLYMPIC REVIEWwww.olympic.org/uk/organisation/commissions/solidarityFAIRWIND FORBEIJINGISAF'S LUISSA SMITH REPORTS ON TWO SAILORS FROM DIFFERING BACKGROUNDSWHO ARE BENEFITING FROM OLYMPIC SOLIDARITY SCHOLARSHIPSAS THEY AIM FOR A PLACE ON THE PODIUM IN BEIJINGOLYMPIC SOLIDARITY

OLYMPIC REVIEW63OLYMPIC SOLIDARITYThe stunning setting of the Qingdao harbourin Beijing will host the sailing events at the2008 Olympic Games and two OlympicSolidarity scholarship holders are dreaming of racingto glory there in August next year. Veronika Fenclova ofthe Czech Republic became a realistic contender for amedal in Beijing in the 470 class when she joined upwith Athens silver medallist in the single-handeddinghy, Lenka Smidova. A 26-year-old Prague native,Fenclova, who started sailing aged seven, came of ageas an Olympic class sailor in 2006, describing it as"the best year in my sailing career". She finished fourth at the ISAF Grade 1 SailMelbourne and 11th at a highly competitive EuropeanChampionship in Italy, her consistent form reflected ina top 20 spot in the world rankings.As one of 20 sailors receiving a scholarship fromthe IOC's Olympic Solidarity, Fenclova was able tointensify her training, attend last year's WorldChampionships in the USA and dedicate moreresources to help her fulfil her Olympic dreams. She went to Israel to train with her coach JakubKozelsky, who she explains is now playing a muchmore active role in her campaign. "Two years ago I went everywhere alone and now Ican travel with my coach more."At the start of 2007, with the Sailing WorldChampionships in Cascais, Portugal, little over sixmonths away, opportunity knocked. Smidova had alsobeen sailing the 470 with partner Elizabeth Kratzig whois not yet a Czech citizen. As July's WorldChampionships offered qualification for the OlympicGames, in stepped Fenclova. She and Smidova went tothe USA for the Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR. With justtwo weeks training together in Miami, the pair came ineighth overall, winning the medal race and finishingwithin 11 points of the podium, a huge boost ahead ofthe race in Cascais. Turkey's Kemal Muslublas is also back on theOlympic trail thanks to the Solidarity Programme. The 29-year-old's career highlight to date wasrepresenting his nation in Athens in 2004, although aDNF in the final race saw him tumble down theleaderboard and eventually finish 33rd. Since Athens he recorded his first ever victory in anISAF graded event at the 2005 Istanbul Sailing Week,a win he repeated the following year. However, hisworld ranking had slipped down to No. 80 at the end of 2006. The news of the Solidarity scholarshipcame at just the right time."I received this good news when I was desperatelylooking for some support to be able to keep sailingand try to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2008.Although the Istanbul Sailing Club is helping me a lotfor our Olympic goal, this scholarship has taken a lot of weight off my club," he says.Following the news of the scholarship, Muslublasset about his training programme, first concentratingon his fitness levels then heading for Europe for twoweeks to maximise his time out on the water.The World Championships in Cascais are hisprinciple focus this year as he aims to qualify forBeijing in the highly competitive Laser event. Toachieve that aim he must finish within the top 29nations in the Laser fleet (currently entrants from 62nations are registered to compete). The start of 2007 brought an opportunity tomeasure his current standing in the Laser fleet inMiami, his first ISAF Grade 1 regatta since theEuropean Championships almost six months earlier.Muslublas was unable to spend time training in Miamibefore racing got underway - he explains, "the budgetwas very tight and I was grateful just to be there" -and knew he was in for a big challenge on BiscayneBay. After a confidence-boosting fifth in race 2, heposted consistent scores in the teens and low-twenties to finish in 20th overall. "I had a veryconsistent series with a couple of great races," hereflects. "It was a great experience and training for the beginning of the season."After a positive start to the season, the biggesttests now lie ahead. As Muslublas explains, theOlympic Solidarity scholarship can make all thedifference to the success of his campaign. As themargin between success and failure at the top levelof Olympic sailing continues to narrow, the extratraining and competition the additional funding brings is crucial."This scholarship gives me a little freedom in thesituations where I cannot see an exit. In other words, when I prepare a budget there are alwayssome parts of it missing and I can use thescholarship to fill the missing parts, and avoid fallingbehind with my schedule." With a record breaking 74nations registered for Cascais, the competition hasnever been tougher to grab one of the preciousOlympic Games spots. "Consistent and continuous training meanseverything in all sports and Olympic Solidarity gave methis." With his results at the start of the year, Muslublasis providing the perfect evidence to support this maxim,and will be a name to watch in Cascais and beyond. ?LeftVeronikaFenclova (right)of the CzechRepubliccompeting in the470 class withher partner,Athensmedallist, LenkaSmidovaRightTurkey'sKemal Muslublashas fresh hopesof competing fora medal inBeijing thanks tohis Solidarityscholarshipwww.olympic.org/uk/organisation/commissions/solidarity