Snow Sports NZ is pleased to announce that 10 New Zealand athletes have been awarded “Sochi 2014” Olympic Scholarships by the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Solidarity World Programme Fund.
The recipients include seven Snow Sports athletes under the disciplines of Freestyle Skiing, Freestyle Snowboarding and Alpine Skiing; and three Ice athletes competing in Long Track Speed Skating and Skeleton.
Olympic Scholarships for Athletes “Sochi 2014” is an integral part of the Olympic Solidarity programme, assisting athletes to prepare for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games by providing financial assistance and access to high-level training facilities and coaches. Athletes are identified by their own National Olympic Committees as top performers in their sport and must have the technical sports level to be able to qualify for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Snow Sports NZ’s Ashley Light, Performance Director for the Winter Performance Programme, thanked both the Olympic Solidarity Fund and the New Zealand Olympic Committee for their recognition and support of New Zealand’s talented snow sports athletes.
“The quality of applications and high standard of athletes allowed Snow Sports NZ to put in a strong case for athlete support. The scholarships will make a marked difference to the athletes’ ability to prepare themselves for what will be an arduous and expensive campaign for Olympic selection,” he said.
Selected athletes for “Sochi 2014” Olympic Scholarships are:
Speaking from their base in Wanaka, snowboarders Stef Zeestraten and Christy Prior expressed their gratitude at having been selected to receive scholarships and confirmed that such assistance will make a significant impact on their campaign for Olympic qualification.
“It will make for a great opportunity to compete on the world stage,” said Prior. “The financial stress is off which means I can focus full attention on my sport and Olympic qualification. If I do qualify, the Olympics will be the biggest event I will ever compete in in my lifetime. I’m really stoked to have got an Olympic scholarship.”
For Stef Zeestraten a“Sochi 2014” Olympic Scholarship “means I can keep on doing what I like to do which is to push myself to see how far I can take my snowboarding. That should lead to all kinds of fun things and ultimately, hopefully, the Olympics.”
One athlete awaiting final confirmation that he will receive an Olympic Scholarship is Wanaka’s Lyndon Sheehan. Despite living in Wanaka since the age of seven Lyndon has only recently become a New Zealand passport holder. However, with the announcement of his New Zealand citizenship Lyndon’s FIS license will soon allow him to compete officially for New Zealand at the major pinnacle events.
Lyndon is an exciting freestyle skier who has already enjoyed success at the highest level of the sport and now has his sights set on Sochi 2014. He has dreamed of competing at the Winter Olympic Games since he first began skiing at the age of seven and is “stoked” to be the recipient of an Olympic Scholarship. He says the assistance he will now receive “makes qualifying for the Olympics look more like reality.”
Says Lyndon, “This is an exciting opportunity for me and now I can really focus on achieving my goals one step at a time.”
For further information about the Olympic Solidarity, please click here.
For further information about the Winter Performance Programme click here