Nine Belizean athletes, ranging in age from 17 to 29, will be training to hopefully represent Belize in the 2024 Summer Olympics, to be held in Paris. And they'll be receiving financial aid so that they can give it their all. Today, the athletes - whose sports also range from cycling to judo - signed contracts to receive their Olympic Scholarships.

The president of the Belize Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association, Hilly Martinez, told us more.

Hilly Martinez, President, Belize Olympic & Commonwealth Games Association
"We have 9 athletes and I explained earlier, one athlete will be getting five hundred U.S. per month; six will be getting seven hundred and fifty U.S. per month and two will be getting twelve hundred and fifty U.S. per month. It is broken down in one from sailing association, one from Judo association, two from cycling and five from athletics."

"This program is from the Olympic Solidarity Program. It is not the first time, but it's the first time it is being ran this way. Last Olympic games we had athletes Shaun and Hillary who were part of the scholarship program back then. They also on the scholarship program this year and this will run until the Olympic games in August 2024, then after, if Olympics solidarity decided which I am sure they will provide more funds for us for more athletes or the same amount or whatever the case. But its all dependent on the Olympics solidarity"

"As we all know funding for Belize is difficult for any national federation including the Olympic federation, but Olympics solidarity assist us. Now this program is not only for Belize. This program is for basically all the 206 countries in the world, but some of them don't need it, but it's for the smaller developing countries that this program is for. So this will assist the individuals and the national federations for them to get their athletes up to a certain level. Hopefully we can qualify for the Olympics, the Pan American Central American Games."

And the athletes agree that this scholarship is a huge help and one that will help them be able to compete on a global stage.

Shaun Gill, Athletics
"The biggest thing about it is that it really allows you to focus on your training. As the guys mentioned earlier, simple things like getting to training, catching a bus, a train, a taxi or in my case a Uber, this fund comes in very handy and it really allows you to focus on your training. I believe for me that's why I've seen the results I saw last year and last season."

"Considering how well you performed last time, how confident are you?"

Shaun Gill, Athletics
"Very confident, because now we have this support and also my environment, I'm based in Texas, it's an extremely high-level environment and that on its own pushes me to be the best I can be, so with this plus that mix, perfect."

Derrick Chavarria, Cyclist
"It's my first time on this scholarship. I believe it will help a lot since cycling is really an expensive sport. It includes mechanical issues you may have. Other sports include nutrition and training, etc."

"How long have you been riding?"

Derrick Chavarria, Cyclist
"I've been riding for a total of 11 years this year with the exception on 2020, so that cut back to 10 years."

Ashantie Carr, Athletics
"This is a great opportunity. This is one of the biggest opportunities that we have ever received, because it also help us to push forward and this is a big help."

Ishmael Castro, Judo
"I'll be able to focus more on good nutrition which is really hard, healthy stuff are usually expensive. It can help me with more training, equipment and stuff like that."

"Judo isn't a sport that's huge in Belize like cycling. How do you feel having the chance to represent Belize?"

Ishmael Castro, Judo
"Very happy. Judo is like studying your opponent, like you make sure that your opponent is off balance so you can make sure that they fall."

A New Home For The Olympic Movement In Belize

And this signing was held inside the new Olympic House at the front of the Marion Jones Compound. It's almost completed and will serve as the new headquarters of the Belize Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association. The BOCGA has secured a 99-year lease on the property from the government, and the building itself is approximately 3,000 square feet.

Today the BOCGA's Secretary General, Allan Sharp, told us how they will be using it:

The funding comes from the Pan American Program, BOCGA's own savings, as well as help from international organizations.

Channel 7