Solidarity pays off
Rohullah Nikpai was the first Afghan to win an Olympic medal. At the Beijing Games he won the bronze medal in the under 58kg taekwondo competition. The country's previous best Olympic score was a fifth place in wrestling at the Tokyo Games in 1964. His triumph wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Olympic Solidarity programme (OS). Rohullah was one of 81 medalists that benefitted from the programme; of which 19 of them won a gold medal. “All this is fantastic, but even more important is the fact that the OS programme at the Beijing Games, as in previous Summer Games, enabled the participation of athletes from all over the world. Universality is a key principal for the Olympic Movement and the OS programme brings it to life”, says Pere Miro, Director of Olympic Solidarity. The programme underlines also the strong relationship between all entities of the Olympic Movement. It is implemented in close collaboration with the National Olympic Committees and with the technical advice of the International Olympic Sports Federations. Rohulla, for example, benefitted from a 45-day training programme in South Korea, the motherland of taekwondo, prior to the Beijing Games. The Korean NOC and the Taekwondo Federation backed the project. “Universality and developing countries” is an important issue that will be debated during the Olympic Congress in Copenhagen between 3 -5 October 2009.
Links: Congress page; Olympic Solidarity page, for new website: Olympism in action
Video: Rohullah Nikpai video (AFP)