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Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 14:12 UK

Haffield excited by Olympics bow

Thomas Haffield
Haffield is hoping to emulate Olympic medallist pal David Davies

Thomas Haffield does not fear getting thrown in at the Olympics deep end on his Games bow in Beijing.

As rookie Welsh swimmer Haffield admitted: "My Dad used to throw me in the deep end when I was only about three or four years old.

"That was a case of sink or swim but I managed to stay alive though!," joked the 400m Individual Medley ace.

So 20-year-old Haffield, ranked number four in the world, isn't worried about taking on the great Michael Phelps.

The American dominated the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 400m Individual Medley crown is one of the six titles he will defend in Beijing this month.

Michael Phelps
Thomas Haffield
Born: January 28, 1988 in Neath
Height: 5ft 11 ins
Weight: 10st 2lbs
Club: City of Cardiff
Achievements: sixth - World Short Course Championships, 6th - Commonwealth Games
Michael Phelps
Born: June 30, 1985 in Baltimore
Height: 6ft 4 ins
Weight: 13st 9lbs
Club: Wolverine (University of Michigan)
Achievements: six Olympic, 17 World Championship (long course), one World Championship (short course) and eight Pan Pacific titles, holds six world records and four-times World Swimmer of the Year and

Phelps has won 12 world titles since Athens and the 23-year-old currently holds six world records, including the 400m Individual Medley.

But Haffield said: "I'm excited about making my Olympic debut - I want to see how far I have come and how much work I have to do."

Haffield made his major event debut at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne but despite recent impressive performances, his Olympic debut is seen as part of his personal development in preparation for the 2012 Games in London.

Haffield broke the Commonwealth record with a time of 4min 12.59secs to secure his Olympic spot at the trials in Sheffield in April - a clear seven seconds behind Phelps' world record set in June.

"It's not impossible for a teenager win a medal in your first Olympics," said former swimming star Sharron Davies, who won Olympic silver in the 400m Individual Medley at the 1980 Games in Moscow.

"And Thomas will know that because his fellow countryman David Davies achieved just that in Athens four years ago.

"But these Olympics will be mainly about gaining experience for Thomas, who is a great prospect.

"This country has a great history in middle-distance swimming and Beijing for Tom will be about taking in the atmosphere and gaining the valuable knowledge and experience before London in four years time."

Haffield will be the first Welsh athlete to compete in Beijing as his first 400m Individual Medley heat will start at 1130 BST on Saturday.

see also
Haffield ready to take on Phelps
26 Jun 08 |  Swimming
Welsh schedule for Beijing 2008
31 Jul 08 |  Olympics
Team GB for Beijing
29 Nov 07 |  Team GB
Swimming on the BBC
02 Oct 07 |  Swimming

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