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Support for emerging sailors at Kiel Week 2019

by Kiel Week 25 Jun 00:09 PDT 22-30 June 2019
Thanks to the support, Mariela Nikolova from Bulgaria can start at the Kiel Week. © Kieler Woche /

Sailors from countries where sailing is not that much on the agenda, have a new chance to start at the Olympic Games. They will not receive a wildcard, but rather get support from the Emerging Nations Program of World Sailing. So they can sail at events which they normally could not afford financially or structurally, such as Kiel Week.

Mariela Nikolova is from Bulgaria, Deisy Nhaquile from Mozambique. Both fulfil the criteria to receive the support for sailors from emerging nations and are here at Kiel Week. They will first start in the Laser Open class, and then in the second part of the Olympic classes phase will be just with Laser Radials.

"The sailors are part of a longer running program, which will enable sailors from emerging nations, especially female athletes, to find a structured development path from the youth to the Olympic status," Rob Holden from World Sailing summarised. "With that support it is possible for them to make it to the Olympic Games," says Nadine Stegenwalner, Vice President of World Sailing. "It is not about an overall financing and no secured starting spot at the Games," Stegenwalner continues. The goal is to increase the general participation at big events. This includes an increase of female participants, and this step will also help to reduce the performance gap at the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo. "Thus the sailors are coming from nations defined as emerging nations by World Sailing," explains Rob Holden, who looks after the sailors in this program.

In order to count as an emerging nation in the view of World Sailing, a number of factors are taken into account. "Among them are the existing formal coaching and training structures in the country, the qualification for the Olympics (this includes at the moment London 2012 and Rio 2016) as well as a three-page invitation for the Olympic Games," Rob Holden explains. Bulgaria and Mozambique fulfil this criteria.

"While Bulgaria and Mozambique both have good sailing structures, they have not developed a program for high-performance athletes, and there are only very few other - if at all - high-class sailors, making it difficult for them to reach the Olympic standard and keep it." The financing could be difficult, especially with the costs for high-quality trainers and equipment, as well as the travel costs for the events. "By making them part of a group getting support, World Sailing is trying to reduce or break down barriers."

Not only the country, but also the sailors have to fulfil specific criteria to receive the support. "The sailors show that they reach the contest standards to compete on the elite level, but often do not have the financial means or support to participate in these events on a regular basis," explains Rob Holden. Many times, another problem is, that they cannot train as full-time athletes. "Both Mariela as well as Deisy joined the programs of Youth Emerging Nations in 2016 and are now on the senior path."

Since 2018 the sailors received support for participating in different events. For example the Andalusian Olympic Week 2018 as a selected event and a complete support package for the Sailing World Championship 2018 in Aarhus in Denmark, including a two-week training camp. "In 2019 the sailors will be supported at the Laser Radial World Championship in Sakaiminato, Japan."

This year, the participation at the Kiel Week is also supported, which evolved from an initiative from Felix Weidling from the KYC (Kiel Yacht Cub). The talks between the KYC Regatta Secretary and World Sailing concluded in a division of the support.

"They wanted to support the sailors from the program up to the event to offer the sailors more event experience. And since the Kiel Week is such a big event in the regatta calendar, it fits great," says Rob Holden. "Kiel Week enables the sailors the access to the event, charter boats and accommodation, while World Sailing supports the flights and offers a coach for the sailors."

Deisy Nhaquile (Mosambique) is impressed about Kiel: "It was good and tough the last days to sail in Kiel. On our home territory there is not that much wind. With the shifting winds here in Kiel I can learn a lot about the technique. At home, it is constantly blowing from the South or North."

Looking at the Olympics in Japan, the 18-year old is realistic: "For Germany or France for example it is easy to qualify for the Olympics. But for us this is difficult - without the program we cannot finance it."

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