Eton to the rescue of the Afghan oarsmen


Last updated at 22:21 24 November 2007

Princes William and

Harry's old school is bailing

out would-be Olympic rowers

in Afghanistan.

Eton – which is renowned for

nurturing gold medallists such as

Matthew Pinsent – has donated

four boats to the Afghan rowing

team to help them prepare for

the 2012 Olympics.

And if they achieve their potential,

the oarsmen could compete on

Eton's own Dorney Lake – the rowing

venue for the London Games.

The unusual partnership between

the £26,000-a-year school and the

novice rowers from the Hindu

Kush has been brokered by the

British ambassador to Afghanistan,

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.

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The boats are to be flown out to

Kabul by the RAF before the end of

the year.

Eton College's headmaster Tony

Little said: "We are delighted to be

able to help. It would be wonderful

if the Afghan team could come to

Eton to compete in the Olympics in


"The boats we are sending

them are five to ten years old but in

a good condition. They are perfect

for training."

Four-times Olympic gold medallist

Pinsent said: "Everyone knows

rowing needs desire and dedication

to get to the top and these guys will

have that by the bucketload."

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The Afghan rowing team currently

train alongside their rivals

Pakistan in Pakistani boats on a lake

outside Islamabad. The boats being

donated will be taken to Kargha, a

man-made lake seven miles from

Kabul, where the Afghan kayak

team is also based.

The head of Afghanistan's Water

Sports Federation, Mullah Ezat,

said: "We hope they arrive soon."

Afghanistan has been competing

in the Olympics since 1936 but

never in any rowing events.

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