Al-Ahram Weekly Online   11 - 17 March 2004
Issue No. 681
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Atlanta, then Athens

Three Egyptian athletes have won a grant to train in Atlanta in preparation for the Olympic Games in Athens. Inas Mazhar reports

Sports, business and politics were all brought together for the benefit of Egyptians going to Athens.

The Apache Corporation and Oriental Weavers Egypt are the co-sponsors of three Egyptian Olympic athletes who will train at the Dekalb International Training Centre (DITC) in Atlanta, Georgia to prepare for their big summer. The announcement was made by the President of the Egyptian Olympic Committee (NOC) Mounir Sabet and the US Ambassador to Egypt David Welch.

Swimmer Salma Zenhoum and sprinters Amr Seoud and Ahmed Abdel-Ati have been selected by their federations to join the centre. "They have already gone to Atlanta and started training," NOC General Director Ahmed Enan said. "The federations selected the players according to their results and because they qualified for the Olympic Games," explaining that no players from cycling or tennis, the other two sports included in the training centre, were selected "simply because nobody qualified for the Olympics".

Sabet said he was happy to see three Egyptians reach the Olympics and have a chance to train in such a famed centre as the DITC. "It is committed to training the best Olympic athletes from around the world to assist in their pursuit of excellence," Sabet said.

The Apache Corporation, currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, is a large oil and gas firm with core operations in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, the North Sea, Egypt and Western Australia. Its shares are traded in the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ under the symbol APA. Oriental Weavers Egypt owns a factory based in Atlanta.

The DITC is a programme belonging to the Atlanta-based international organisation Forging New Tomorrows Inc in partnership with Dekalb County, Georgia. By design of co- Chair Ambassador Andrew Young and co- Chair Marc Daniel Gutekunst, the DITC is unique in that it is the only training facility of its kind providing athletes selected by NOCs from around the world not only to train but to enjoy a comprehensive education package as well.

"We are glad that our athletes will be provided the opportunity to compete and represent their country of origin at national and international meets while gaining a meaningful education," Enan said.

DITC's mission is twofold: to provide first class training to enable participating athletes to compete in the US and internationally, while furthering their education to graduate with either a high school, vocational or a university degree. Secondly, the DITC promotes peace and reconciliation and foster exchanges between people and nations, while respecting the socio-cultural and religious identity of each and every athlete in training at the DITC.

The DITC was officially inaugurated on 6 May 2002. Athletes readying for Athens will be in residency for pre-Olympic training. In 2004, a new training/education cycle will begin and extend through the Beijing 2008 Games.

According to the Dekalb board representatives at a meeting in Egypt, the goal of the DITC is to provide world class coaching staff and to encourage athletes from all walks of life and with different levels of talent to strive towards attaining their goals in both academic and athletic endeavours. "It is the commitment of the DITC staff to provide each individual that joins our programme the feeling of personal success and importance," said Dekalb CEO Veron Jones.

DITC programmes consist of utilising the tools of sport medicine as well as practical experience gained through years of coaching and individualising programmes designed to optimise strength, speed and endurance.

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