Onan Thom's coach says not expecting results at Olympics ATHENS 2004
By Michael DaSilva
Stabroek News
August 4, 2004

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Trinidadian swim coach Hazel Haynes, who will accompany Guyana's Onan Thom to the Athens 2004 Olympics, is not expecting too much from the Guyanese, but rather is looking for results four years down the line.

Speaking to Stabroek Sport from her Trinidad residence, Haynes noted that the 2004 Olympics will be Thom's first. "So I'm not expecting anything spectacular. I know he will gain experience and we will really have to look at four years down the line," Haynes said.

Haynes became Thom's coach in January 2003 and according to her, the Guyan-ese athlete has shown alot of improvement since then. "His progress has been coming well. He came here doing 57 seconds for the 100-metre freestyle, one minute 12 seconds for the 100-metre breaststroke and 25 seconds for the 50-metre freestyle. Now he's down to 54 seconds in the 100-metre free and 24 (seconds) for the 50 free."

However, she said, Thom will only be contesting the 100-metre freestyle race.

The Trinidadian, who has been coaching the sport since 1989 said, "Onan's progress is a result of his character. He's very disciplined, very determined and has a strong will to do well."

Thom represented Guyana at the World Swimming Championships in 2000 when it was staged in Japan and again last year when it was staged in Barcelona, Spain.

He also attended the South American Swimming Championships in Colombia in 2001 and participated in an international meet in Iran.

Thom will be among 800 swimmers vying for top honors at the Athens Olympics.

In 2000, Holland's Pieter Hoogenband set a new Olympic record for the 100-metre freestyle when he clocked 47.84 seconds in Sydney.

Since he started attending college in the Twin Island Republic, Thom has participated in a number of meets. The most memorable for him was the National Long Course championships which was staged at the Westmoorings Pool from July 14 to 18 this year.

At the meet, he contested eight events. He won seven and placed second in the other.

Thom returned 55.20 seconds to win the 100-metre freestyle and 24.34 seconds in the first of two 50-metre freestyle events. In the other 50-metre race, he clocked 24.58 seconds.

Thom also won a 200-metre freestyle in 2:05.94 and placed second in another in 2:09.72.

The other events he won were the 50, 100 and 200-metre breaststroke races.

In December 2003, Thom placed third in the 100-metre freestyle clocking 55.29 seconds. At this meet, he participated in nine races but failed to win any.

In October last year also, Thom contested seven events at an inter-club meet and won all seven, including the 100-metere freestyle (53.67 seconds).

Thom, Haynes and Guyana's Chef-de-Mission for Athens Games, Garfield Wiltshire, will leave on Saturday for Greece. They will be met in Greece by track and field manager Pamela Phillips, who, along with weight-lifting manager/coach Deion Nurse, leaves Guyana on August 10.

United States-based track athletes Aliann Pompey and Marian Burnett will leave the US on August 11 for Athens.