Australian swimming coach faces child sex charges

The coach of Olympic swimming medalist Brooke Hanson appeared in a Melbourne court Wednesday charged with sexual assault involving a child under 16.

Mark Thompson was not required to enter a plea when he appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court.

Thompson was granted bail and ordered to reappear on Jan. 17, said Victoria state police spokeswoman Sheree Argento. Thompson's age and address were not supplied.

Thompson, who was recently voted Victoria state coach of the year by the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association, has taken leave from his job as head coach of the Nunawading Swimming Club in suburban Melbourne.

Hanson, who won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, issued a statement saying she'd been instructed not to make any comment on the charges against Thompson.

She said she'd continue to train at the club to finetune for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, which are to be held in Melbourne next March.

Swimming Australia chief executive Glenn Tasker was not aware of the charges until informed by local media, the AP reports.

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