Ten promising New Zealand athletes have been awarded grants through Olympic Solidarity funding as they chase their dreams of competing at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Connor Bell (athletics), Elliott Connolly (judo), Justina Kitchen (yachting), Molly Meech (yachting), Georgia Nugent-O’Leary (rowing), Eddie Osei-Nketia (athletics), Tayler Reid (triathlon), Zac Reid (swimming), Eve Thomas (swimming), and Nicole van der Kaay (triathlon), will all receive US $15,000 over the next 18 months to assist them with their journey to Paris 2024.
Tayler Reid, Zac Reid, Thomas, van der Kaay and Meech have already competed at one or more Olympic Games, with the other athletes aiming to make their Olympic debuts in Paris.
For 32-year-old mother of two Justina Kitchen (Auckland), the funding is invaluable as she works towards competing in kiteboarding’s Olympic debut.
“It’s so helpful in terms of taking away stress, there are a lot of obligations when you have two kids so to have some expenses covered really allows me to focus on training and achieving goals, rather than finances,” said Kitchen.
“The Olympics have been a goal for my whole life. I remember being a five-year-old wanting to make it to the Olympics and this funding is really helping my journey there. It’s an awesome opportunity and I’m very thankful.”
22-year-old middle distance swimmer Zac Reid (New Plymouth) competed for New Zealand at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, as well as the Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games in 2018 and the Bahamas Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017.
He says the grant is enabling him to be an elite level athlete.
"It’s helping to get me overseas to train and race, and really just easing some of the funding worries that go hand in hand with being an athlete,” said Reid.
“I’m really grateful to my sport, the NZOC and Olympic Solidarity, and I can’t wait to get to Paris and represent New Zealand.”
NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol extended her thanks to Olympic Solidarity.
“Congratulations to those selected and thank you to Olympic Solidarity for helping the NZOC assist these athletes as they work towards representing New Zealand at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” said Nicol.
“We know funding can be a major hurdle for athletes. Competing internationally can be costly and these grants allow these athletes further certainty and lighten the load on their Olympic journey.”
The athletes were nominated by their national federations and selected based on their athletic achievement and dedication to competing at the highest level.
The funding is distributed through IOC’s Olympic Solidarity program which is handing out almost $600 million in athlete scholarships and national federations’ coach and athlete development programmes in the Olympic quadrennial 2021-24. More information on Olympic Solidarity Funding can be found here.
The NZOC would also like to acknowledge and thank Olympic Solidarity for funding ten athletes on Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games scholarships, of which seven went to Beijing, with two winning medals.
Meanwhile, the competition schedule for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games has been unveiled after being approved by the IOC Executive Board.
The schedule sees 32 sports contested across 19 days of action, with 329 events to take place across 762 sessions.
The full Paris 2024 Olympic competition schedule can be viewed here.