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Timorese athletes on track for Olympic Games

At a meeting with East Timorese athletes training at the Northern Territory Institute of Sport in Darwin Federal Minister for Sport, Jackie Kelly said "these young people will be representing a generation of athletes who despite their troubles have managed to put sport first and excel at it."

Minister Kelly said that the power of sport to help foster international relations was huge and that with the elite-level coaching Australia is providing to the Timorese athletes some of the squad could expect to be selected for the Games.

"With 3.5 billion viewers watching the Games on TV, the East Timorese athletes will be receiving a lot of international attention. I wish them well in their personal goals." The athletes training program is being coordinated by the Australian Institute of Sport. Their sports are boxing, taekwondo, weightlifting, and marathon running.

One of the boxers, Victor Ramos, formerly Indonesia's boxing champion, has received confirmation of a place at the Olympics. Arrangements are in progress for another three athletes to participate.

Minister Kelly said that Darwin's East Timorese community had made considerable effort in helping to make the visiting athletes feel welcome and connected to Australia and that their generosity was recognised and very much appreciated.

"I am very pleased that we have been able to lend Australia's sport expertise to our East Timorese neighbours. Australia's elite sporting community is keenly focussed on the upcoming Games and that we have been able to extend ourselves and help them while all this is happening shows the profound depth and warmth of Australia's national character," she said. "It's great to see the way the Games work to keep the Olympic spirit alive."

Media inquiries: Sam Spurrett, Minister Kelly's office (00612) 4732 2844

See also www.australia.org.nz

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