The Colombian NOC AC decided to use the Activity Grant of USD 10,000 to support their athletes through the COVID-19 quarantine in Colombia.

Here, Paulo explains how the Commission organised a virtual forum and exercise “kits” to help athletes train from home.

Around 80,000 viewers took part across the three days of the virtual forum, and over 100 athletes received the exercise kits.

At the beginning of 2020, we discussed among the Colombian NOC AC what our priorities were for supporting athletes with the Activity Grant of USD 10,000. Our first idea was an Athletes’ Forum, but something which people could attend from home because of COVID-19, so it was a virtual forum online.

A forum led by athletes

We wanted all of the topics at the forum to be subjects that the athletes actually wanted to listen to, so we did a survey and that resulted in several different themes. Then, we reached out to our athletes through our NOC to encourage them to speak at the forum. We received 15 propositions for presentations from athletes specialised in areas like psychology, sports management, entrepreneurship and so on.

Finally, we settled on 12 presentations for the forum, and we had a small competition to encourage the athletes, with USD 300 going to the best talk, USD 200 for second, USD 150 for third, and USD 100 for the rest of the presenters. The panel to decide the winning presentations consisted of a representative of the Colombian NOC Executive Board, a professor from the national sports university, and three members of the AC. These prizes were presented by Baltazar Medina, President of the NOC, and Norma Constanza Castellanos, the Academic Director of the NOC.

Over three days, we streamed the event through Zoom, Facebook and Instagram, and reached over 80,000 viewers in total. Our talks were really great, with the winning presentation coming from synchronised swimmer Mónica Sarai Arango who spoke about psychology, her specialty.

We created exercise kits which would have the right tools for things like stretching, weightlifting and core training so that these athletes could carry on training from their homes.

Paulo Villar, Chair of Colombian NOC AC

Helping athletes at home

We managed to do something else with the AC Activity Grant, which was to donate sporting resources to athletes who were stuck at home. Like a lot of people in the world, we had a quarantine in Colombia with everyone staying inside as much as possible, with the sports centres closed down.

In our Commission, we have five members, and each one of us lives in one of five regions in Colombia. We all reached out to our local community and formed a list of athletes who didn’t have access to training equipment vital to their sport. We created exercise kits which would have the right tools for things like stretching, weightlifting and core training so that these athletes could carry on training from their homes. In the end we had a list of roughly 100 athletes who were able to benefit from these kits, and we’re really happy to have been able to help them continue their work.

Looking forward 

This year, we would love to do an even bigger event with more resources, but also to broaden our scope and maybe do other activities. We asked for feedback from our athletes who attended the virtual forum, and all the comments were positive. In fact, the athletes want more guests and to have an even wider audience next time! Finally, we’re very grateful to the IOC and Olympic Solidarity for making this grant available to us, we feel fortunate to have this support available.

NOC Athletes’ Commissions can now apply for an annual grant worth up to USD 10,000, which could fund the organisation of online forums like these.