HARTSDALE, N.Y. - When Manhattan College assistant track and field coach Joe Ryan recruited Aliann Pompey, little did he know the impact it would have on his life.
Pompey, a native of Guyana, would attend Manhattan and have an excellent career. Ryan would later coach Pompey in international meets and eventually the ultimate amateur sporting event - the Olympics.
Ryan was selected as the Guyanese track and field coach for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. And now, Ryan will be returning to the Olympics once again, as Guyana’s track and field coach for the 2012 Games in London, to be held July 27-Aug. 12.
This will also be a homecoming for Ryan, who lived in England as a child.
“Aliann was born in Guyana but came to the States as a 10-year-old,” said Ryan, a Hartsdale resident and Manhattan graduate. “She attended Cohoes (N.Y.) High School, and I recruited her to Manhattan," where she was an NCAA champ in 2000.
“After she graduated, she stayed at Manhattan and started competing internationally. I accompanied her to her first world championships in Edmonton. Since then, I attended the world championships with her in Paris, South Korea and Berlin.”
Ryan explained that in both 2008 and this year, the Guyana Track and Field Committee submitted his name to the Guyana Olympic Committee. Even though Ryan was coach in 2008, it did not automatically guarantee he would be chosen again.
“They discuss the nomination and then they have to vote on it,” explained Ryan, who is in his 23rd year at Manhattan.
This will be Pompey’s fourth Summer Olympics. Ryan said Pompey ran the 400-meter dash in a Guyanese national-record time of 50.71 seconds in Beijing to finish 11th. Pompey will run in the 400 on Aug. 3.
Ryan said he enjoyed his first Olympics experience and is also excited about returning to London.
"I had a wonderful experience and it was very satisfying from a professional point of view," said Ryan of Beijing. "I lived in England as a child, and obviously it is very close to my hometown of Dublin, so this will be more personal for me. England will be very familiar to me and it will bring back a lot of memories, living there for a period; then I also competed there as a senior and junior-level athlete in the 70s," he said.