Haciane hopes to put Andorra on the map
Series on Olympic Scholarship Holders Beijing 2008: today Hocine Haciane
Hocine Haciane is a swimmer with the ability not only to promote his sport within his own country, but also to put his country on the map – almost literally. According to Santi Deu, Technical Director of the Andorran Swimming Federation, 22-year-old Haciane, who will represent Andorra for the second time at the Olympic Games this summer, is probably the best swimmer that the tiny Principality has ever produced.
“He can win medals”
“A lot of the meetings we attend, we’re just invited because we have the right as a federation, but Hocine is someone who can win medals at these events,” Deu explains. “It’s important to have someone like Hocine to promote Andorra. That way, people will find out where Andorra is.” In fact, Andorra is nestled between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains.
According to legend, their people were granted a charter by King Charlemagne in return for fighting against the Moors, and, according to modern research, these same people enjoy the highest human life expectancy on the planet. But expectations do not burden their sportsmen and women at Olympic level, which goes some way to accounting for Haciane’s relaxed approach to his sport and to life in general.
Contact with water
“What I like most about swimming is the contact with the water and the feeling of the speed of your body through the water,” he says. His family still live in Andorra, where his parents run a popular pizzeria, but, since September 2007, thanks to his Solidarity scholarship, Haciane has lived and trained in Barcelona. “It’s a calm city, not too big, not too much stress, and the people are great,” he says.
After the Games, Haciane will begin to study marketing, but Olympic memories from four years ago are still fresh in his mind. This time he will compete in the 400 metres freestyle, but in Athens it was the 200 metres, and he was also the flag-bearer for his nation. “I’ll never forget walking out into the stadium in front of all those people at the Opening Ceremony,” he says. “For me it was a unique experience.”
For the Beijing Olympic Games, Olympic Solidarity has awarded a total of 1,088 scholarships to 166 National Olympic Committees in 21 individual Olympic sports.
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