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60OLYMPIC REVIEW OLYMPIC SOLIDARITY TARGETINGTHETOP TWENTY Anastasia Gimazetdinova, from the Republic of Uzbekistan, has a dream – to go to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and finish as one of the twenty best female skaters in the world. And here the Olympic Solidarity programme is of enormous help, as Nikolai Dolgopolov discovered: The three- time Uzbek champion, Gimazetdinova is training in the Russian city of Pervouralsk, which has a longstanding association with figure skating. The 28- year- old was born to an Uzbek father and a Russian mother so feels a strong affiliation with both her homeland and training base. She is hoping that the access to improved training facilities the Solidarity scholarship provides will enable her to make a major breakthrough in Vancouver. How did you react to being accepted as part of the Olympic Solidarity scholarship programme? It was an unexpected and very well received boost to hear that I had been chosen to be part of the programme. My coach and I were very happy that we were not forgotten about while living and training in this somewhat distant city of Pervouralsk in in the Urals! Practically, what does the programme bring to you? We started to feel the benefits of the support right from the very beginning. Now we have resources to pay for the practice hours at the skating rink. It's so nice to skate in the arena when there aren't many other athletes around. You feel free to do whatever you want without disturbing others. Naturally it will help me to prepare better for the big competitions that lie in store over the next 12 months or so. Looking back over your career so far, you were born in 1980 and are still performing in single skating, which is unusual in terms of longevity. Is it right to say that there aren't many skaters who can equal this? I would say there is only a handful of skaters throughout the world still competing at my age. But it's not the thing I'm most proud of. I'm just happy to perform for Uzbekistan. It's a great honour that our Olympic Committee continues to support me and now especially with the additional backing of the Olympic Solidarity programme. I started competing in 2002 and have since participated in several World Figure Skating Championships as well as in the International Skating Union Grand Prix series. I saw you twice at ' The Russian Cup' in Moscow and in St. Petersburg. Presumably you will be travelling far and wide in the coming months? Thanks to the Solidarity programme, I'll have even more chances to travel the world. For instance, I'll be traveling with my coach to the important international competitions in Vancouver. I'll try to do my best there and I look forward to seeing the future Olympic city. Then in March there's the World Championships in the USA. That'll be a kind of preliminaries for the 2010 Olympic Games. And if I skate well there I'll be focused on achieving my long time dream – to enter the list of the top 20 female skaters in the world. ANASTASIA GIMAZETDINOVA