The 1982 Commonwealth Games was my first major meet; I was only 18 and being on that stage and winning a gold made me realise that what I was hoping for could be possible so it was quite an important stage in my life.
Looking back at the 100m breaststroke, I don’t remember much about the first length but I remember down the last half length still feeling pretty good. In previous races I’d been tying up towards the end but I remember feeling very strong and almost moving into a higher gear. I was shouting at myself in my head “Keep going! Keep going! you can win this!”; all that positive reinforcement stuff.
I also remember feeling strong in the last 10m and thinking that I was sure I’d done well because I’d felt so good, but the minute you touch you don’t know if you’ve won. I remember touching the wall and thinking “I might have won that…” so when I turned round to look at the clock I got pretty excited. Also it was quite nice because the Queen was watching that finals night and presenting the medals so that was pretty special to get my gold from her.
It was a significant moment for me because I started to know that I was getting myself into the frame of being world class in beating people like Victor Davis who got the silver. He was the world champion at the time, he’d broken the world record that year so he was pretty much hoping to clean sweep the 100, 200 and the medley relay as the Canadians had a strong medley squad.
He won the 200, but then I beat him on the 100 and then on the same day their relay team won the final but got disqualified so he lost two golds in the same night and just went mad, kicked the timekeepers chair into the pool, stormed off in the changing rooms and trashed a bathroom. It was quite funny at the time as the Queen was of course there for that as well.
Looking back now it’s hard to remember any swims that really stood out, although I’m sure at the time there were lots. Tracey Whickham was impressive as always, but Lisa Curry-Kenny in the 200IM and 400IM was a Brisbane girl and it was amazing seeing a home crowd really getting behind her as she blew the field away in both events.
Those games were also the first trip that I got into travelling afterwards; getting the opportunity to go travelling in a place where you would never normally have gotten to go at the age of 18, was fantastic. I travelled with three swimmers and an Aussie diver, Steve Foley, who is now the British Diving National Performance Director.
Steve rented a van as he was a bit older than the rest of us, and basically said “Look we’re going to go on this trip up to the Barrier Reef and then back down to Melbourne do you want to come?” because I knew the swimmers who were going with him.
I remember phoning my mum to tell her I was going and she basically said “Put him on!” so I had to phone her back and put Steve on so he could promise to look after me. It got a bit hair-raising in some cases but he did look out for me and it was a great experience.