Subject: AP: IOC delegation identifies potential East Timorese Olympians

IOC delegation identifies potential East Timorese Olympians 06/18/2000

DILI, East Timor (AP) - An International Olympic Committee delegation led by IOC vice president Kevan Gosper announced Sunday it had identified several East Timorese athletes capable of competing at the Sydney 2000 Games.

Gosper said competitors in athletics, weightlifting, boxing and Tae Kwon Do would be considered to compete as individuals at the Sept. 15-Oct. 1 Games.

"We will identify between six and 10 athletes out of which, if we can get two to four at Olympic competitive level, we think that would be a great result," said Gosper during a two-day visit to East Timor .

East Timor , which voted for independence from Indonesia last year, is under United Nations administration and does not yet fulfill criteria for Olympic recognition.

But the IOC executive board ruled May 26 that East Timorese athletes could compete as "Individual Olympic Athletes."

As individuals, the athletes would compete in white uniforms free of national identification and march behind the Olympic flag in the opening ceremony.

Gosper, who played a key role in brokering the deal for East Timorese athletes, said boxer Victor Ramos, the highest profile athlete on the island, was a strong chance of gaining an Olympic berth.

The 30-year-old light weight won a silver medal for Indonesia at the 1995 South East Asian Games and has said he wants to represent East Timor in future.

Ramos, who works for the U.N., has been invited to train at the Australian Institute of Sports in Canberra in the pre-Olympic period.

Female marathon runner Agida-Fatima Amaral was also identified as a potential Olympian.

The 25-year-old athlete has been training barefoot but was measured up by Gosper for a pair of running shoes to assist her with training, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Gosper and Pere Miro, the IOC's director of Olympic solidarity, met with local political and sporting leaders plus U.N. officials in a bid to help East Timor form its national Olympic committee.

Gosper said the weekend visit was the first step in a long process of rebuilding sport in East Timor .

Most sporting facilities, including the Dili Public Sports Center which was burned during Militia violence, were destroyed following the independence vote.

Athletes have continued training but often without basic equipment or financial aid.

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