By Tom Degun

Francis DickDecember 8 - Fifteen Para-equestrians athletes from five different countries have secured a share of a £21,805 ($34,066/€25,500) London 2012 training grant from Eurovestech, the Pan-European development capital fund.

Three riders each from Hong Kong, Israel, New Zealand, Poland and Russia will each use the grants to fund their training, with London 2012 qualification as their major goal.

The grants were launched to support Para-equestrians from nations where funding is limited and who have not won medals at the Paralympics, World Championships or World Equestrian Games since 2004.

New Zealand's Frances Dick (pictured), who is aiming to compete at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, is delighted to be awarded a training grant.

"My dream of bringing home a medal from the London 2012 Paralympics has just got a whole lot closer and the grant comes at a time when funding is critical in the countdown to 2012," she said.

Dick will this week join fellow New Zealanders Joanna Jackson and Rachel Stock, who have also received Eurovestech training grants, at the Oceania team qualifier for London 2012 in Victoria, Australia, where they will go head-to-head with Australian riders to secure London 2012 a team place.

"The grants are a welcome boost for these highly talented Para-Equestrian athletes who are training intensely for the London 2012 Paralympic Games," said International Paralympic Committee (IPC) chief executive Xavier Gonzalez.

"The IPC is looking forward to seeing riders representing a wide range of nations in London."

The 15 athletes who have received the Eurovestech training grants are Robert Arro, Janny Ma and Natasha Tse from Hong Kong, Yonathan Dressler, Omer Ben Dor and Amit Hasdai from Israel, Mariusz Woszczek, Patrycja Gepner and Tomasz Zdankowski from Poland, Oleg Burmistrov, Anton Arkhireev and Maria Zagorskaya from Russia and Jackson, Stock and Dick from New Zealand.

Trond Asmyr, FEI Director of Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage also welcomed the announcement of successful grant applicants.

"The training grants will help our Paralympic hopefuls to focus clearly on their goals as we count down to London 2012," he said.

"The spectator numbers at the London 2012 Paralympics will be phenomenal, and are already considerably higher than at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic equestrian events where there were 33,000 people.

"This is helping to spur on our Para-Equestrian athletes who have competed at several Games, and for those who will be competing for the first time it will be an unforgettable experience."

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