IOC scholarships for 4 athletes

Kathmandu, August 10:

Taekwondo players Deepak Bista, Manita Shahi and Ayesha Shakya along with marathoner Arjun Kumar Basnet received the Olympic Solidarity scholarships from International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC provided the scholarships to four athletes in accordance with the agreement with the Nepal Olympic Committee (NOC) to assist its player’s performance, said the NOC on Friday. “We are glad to have entered a stage of intensive cooperation with the IOC Solidarity, which we hope will be most fruitful and rewarding for our Elite Athletes,” said NOC president Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan.

Basnet has been granted a monthly scholarship of $1,000 from August until the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “The agreement was based upon confirmation that Basnet will be representing Nepal according to the “unqualified entry” rule if no other Nepali marathoner qualify directly for the 2008 Olympic Games,” said the NOC president.

But the scholarships for three taekwondo players are different from that of Basnet. Due to the low numbers of berths available for the Olympics in taekwondo, they have been been offered the $1,000 scholarships for the period of August to November, said the NOC. “If someone qualifies, the scholarship will be extended until the 2008 Olympics to that player,” said Pradhan. “We will request the IOC for ‘wild card’ in taekwondo if nobody qualifies,” added Pradhan.

World Taekwondo Olympic Qualification is slated for September 23-25 in Manchester, while the Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification is scheduled for November in Vietnam. Bista, Shahi and Shakya are currently undergoing training in South Korea.

The scholarships, which IOC believes will help offset athletes’ training and competition costs during the period, will begin after the completion of the formalities. The IOC has given authority to manage these scholarships to the NOC.