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Athlete finds new inspiration
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Olympic success may have eluded Canadian badminton player Anna Rice in Beijing, but the sportswoman said she now has her mind set on a far more important goal: helping to improve the lives of some of Africa's most disadvantaged children.

Rice, who recently completed a master's degree in international development, has been selected by the international humanitarian organization Right To Play to take part in a three-month fellowship starting in April to inspire children in the Uganda to chase their dreams and never give up hope.

"I have studied lots of theory about development issues, but it's not the same as going there and seeing it firsthand," she said.

"I'm so excited to have been chosen, as the opportunity combines two of the most important things in my life: my love of sport and my passion for development issues."

Rice said she chose to work in Uganda because it is home to some of the world's poorest children.

"All of the athletes in the (Olympic) village have had opportunities to travel and meet new people, and experience new cultures, but the children of Uganda have little opportunity to anything like that," she said.

"I want to be a positive role model for them and give them the confidence to be aware of their potential and to chase their dreams," she said.

"We are all here now chasing our Olympic dreams because people encouraged us; and I want to pass that on."

Rice started playing badminton at the age of 8, but said she found it hard at first because the sport is not popular in Canada.

"I knew it was something I was fascinated in, so I moved to Copenhagen (Denmark) in 2000 to improve my skills," she said.

"I want to share my experience about persisting and never giving up."

Rice said she would retire from the sport after the World Championships next October, so that she will be able to concentrate on her professional career.

(China Daily August 22, 2008)

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