Hong Kong athletes with dreams of competing at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, may receive financial assistance from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC has allocated US$13.7 million (HK$106.7 million) for a scholarship programme aimed at assisting athletes nominated by the 199 national Olympic committees to qualify for the event. Successful applicants will be able to benefit from specialised coaching, access to training facilities, regular medical and scientific assistance, accident and illness insurance, board and lodging costs and plenty of pocket money. Hong Kong sports associations have nominated eight athletes for the scholarship. Hong Kong Amateur Athletics Association (HKAAA) nominee Chiang Wai-hung, the SAR's 100 metres record holder, is hoping to benefit from the scheme. 'If I get this award, it will make a big difference. I'll be able to travel overseas to train at top facilities with my coach, whereas now I have to go alone,' said the sprinter, who was a member of the 4 x 100 m relay team that won a silver medal at the ninth All China National Games last year. Hong Kong's only track athlete to go to the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Chiang was nominated by the HKAAA on the basis of his strong performances over the past year and his positive attitude. 'He has had good results and is our best athlete right now,' said HKAAA executive director Anita Yiu. The other seven nominees are Cheung Yuk (table tennis), Ho Chi-ho (windsurfing), Ho Siu-lun (cycling), Ng Wei (badminton), Lee Chi-wo (triathlon), Law Hiu-fung (rowing) and Chan Wing-suet (swimming). The financial assistance could be substantial if past sports scholarships are anything to go by. Four local athletes were recently awarded US$10,000 each to help prepare for the Asian Games in October. The successful applicants will be announced in August.