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Urmatbek Amatov, who won gold.Perhaps the highest profile elements of OlympicSolidarity's World Programmes are the OlympicScholarships. Launched in 1992, they offer substantialassistance to elite international athletes nominated bytheir NOC, with particular emphasis on those of limitedfinancial means. The programme includes access totop-class training facilities and coaches at home orabroad; medical assistance; board and lodging costs;and a fixed subsidy to enable athletes to compete inOlympic qualification events. In the period leading up tothe 2008 Games a total of 1,088 scholarships wereawarded, and 591 of those - from 151 NOCs -qualified for the Games in Beijing. Of those, 202 werewomen; 389 were men. A total of 81 medals were won in Beijing byOlympic Scholarship holders compared with 57 inAthens four years earlier. Among them were AbhinavBindra (10m air rifle), who was the first Indian to win anindividual Olympic gold medal and used the scholarshipto train for two years at the USA's national trainingcentre in Colorado Springs; and Afghanistan's firstOlympic medallist, Rohullah Nikpai, who won bronze inthe men's under-58kg taekwondo competition. OlympicSolidarity worked closely with Afghan taekwondoathletes prior to Beijing, placing them in a number oftraining camps across the world.Vancouver 2010 was the first fully-fledgedOlympic Winter Scholarship programme. While similarin content to the summer programme, its mainobjective was to improve the level of competition atthe Winter Games, and not to artificially increase theiruniversality given the specific conditions you need topractise many winter sports. Therefore the programmewas offered only to NOCs with a strong tradition inwinter sports. Nevertheless, scholarships were stilloffered to athletes ranging from potential medallists tothose trying simply to represent their country. In all,60 NOCs benefited from the programme, 12 of whicheventually featured delegations in Vancouvercomposed entirely of Olympic Scholarship holders. Atotal of 227 out of 325 scholarship holders qualified,including 89 out of 132 women. There were 13 medallists among the OlympicScholars in Vancouver and these included the Sicsbrothers from Latvia, Andris and Juris, who won silver inthe luge doubles. One year earlier, Juris had told OlympicReview: "The Olympic Scholarship enables us to preparefor the Games in a much better manner, which is veryimportant to us." Andris had added: "Thanks to theOlympic Scholarship we can afford to feel more at home,even being far away from home." And after their successin Vancouver, Andris said: "It's perfect. You always want to be first but second place for small Latvia is wonderful.We trained hard and got in the top three." Other scholarship-medallists in Vancouver includedJakov Fak of Croatia who won his country's first medalin biathlon; Petra Majdic, who took Slovenia's firstcross country medal; and Belarus biathlete DaryaDomracheva, who became only the second woman towin an Olympic medal for her country since 1994.Outside the medals but of equal merit was Errol Kerr,Jamaica's sole representative and its first Olympicskier. He carried his country's flag during the parade ofnations before finishing ninth in the ski cross, narrowlymissing out on a diploma. The focus of attention forthe Olympic Movement is now London 2012 and ?OLYMPIC REVIEW57OLYMPIC SOLIDARITYLeftAbhinavBindra won India'sfirst Olympic goldmedal in BeijingBelow (left toright) The Sicsbrothers and Petra Majdic won medals inVancouver, whileErrol Kerr wasJamaica's solerepresentative atthe Games

scholarship programmes are already under way. Theoverall figure allocated to London 2012 OlympicScholarships is US$19 million, an increase onBeijing's US$16 million. Among the 19 World Programmes administered bythe Olympic Solidarity international office in Lausannethere are also Olympic Scholarships for Coaches,which offer access to high-level training and the chanceto acquire additional experience and knowledge.US$26 million from the World Programmes budget willbe spent on NOC Administration Development,programmes designed to contribute to general NOCrunning and also to improve specific aspects of theiradministration, particularly financial management.Other World Programmes include National TrainingCourses for Sports Administrators and InternationalExecutive Training Courses in Sports Management. In addition, programmes dedicated to the promotion of Olympic values in fields such as sports medicine,woman and sport or sport and the environment, toname but a few, are also available to the NOCs.The Continental Programmes are run by theOlympic Solidarity office within each ContinentalAssociation, allowing them to address specific issuesfor sports development on their continent. The majorpart of each continent's budget is spent on directfinancial support to the NOCs for the implementationof their own activities and programmes that fit withtheir specific objectives. In Asia, for example, theOlympic Council of Asia (OCA) organises an AsianGames Fun Run, designed to spread the message ofthe Asian Games throughout Asia. The Oceania SportEducation Program (OSEP), a joint initiative betweenOceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) andvarious other partners, seeks to develop a regionalapproach to sport education in the field of coachingand administration. All over the Americas, Pan-American Sports Organisation (PASO) is making high-level international training centres available, with bettersupervision and state of the art facilities. In Europe,young athletes can take part in the European YouthOlympic Festival (EYOF) thanks to the EuropeanOlympic Committees (EOC) and in Africa an increasingnumber of NOCs are now benefiting from theOlympAfrica project, partially financed by theAssociation of National Olympic Committees of Africa(ANOCA) through its continental budget."Never before has Olympic Solidarity allocated so many resources and developed so many activitiesto support the NOCs and benefit the athletes," saysVázquez Raña. "We are aware that Olympic Solidarityis today the fundamental support for the great majorityof the NOCs and, in more than a few cases, theguarantee of their autonomy and independence." And long may it last. As the Olympic Charterstates: "The practice of sport is a human right. Everyindividual must have the possibility of practising sportin accordance with his or her needs." Olympic Solidarity is about making sure thoserights can be exercised - everywhere. ?58OLYMPIC REVIEWOLYMPIC SOLIDARITYBelow rightUrmatbek Amatovof Kyrgyzstan wona gold medal atfirst YOG inSingaporeBelowJakov Fakof Croatia won hiscountry's firstbiathlon medal in Vancouver