The 1990 Games were a very different one for me as I’d won the Olympics in 1988 and broken the world record and unfortunately Victor Davis had sadly died by then so I was an overwhelming favourite going into the meet, unlike the previous two.
Nick Gillingham was probably the closest to me on the 100m but I didn’t really consider him a threat at that point because I was right at the top of my game.
So for me it was really all about trying to beat my world record and set as fast a time as I could and there’s quite a lot I remember about the race. I actually equalled my world record for the first time, which was quite a bizarre feeling, because I touched the wall and I’d won it by about two and a half seconds but I didn’t feel that I’d swum it well.
Despite winning my third gold and equalling the record, I thought I could have gone faster but I blew my pacing. I don’t know if it was because I didn’t have any of the head to head rivalry going on or whatever, but I just remember feeling a bit disappointed at the end of it.
What was most interesting, and this is my biggest memory from Auckland, was that James Parrack beat Nick into second and we took a 1-2-3 finish. The three of us did an interview afterwards and James said some pretty cutting things about his relationship with Nick live on the BBC, which were very funny to start with but it got a bit silly really so I tried to stay as far away from it as possible.
It was the first time I’d raced in a Commonwealth Games without Victor, who had died in 1989 in a hit and run crash, but he still has an impact on my time there. After 1986 I actually became quite good friends with him; I think he had mellowed a bit and we developed a bit of a mutual respect as he came to accept that I was in fact, on his level. I also understood more where his anger came from so we ended up getting on quite well.
When he died it was around the time of the English Commonwealth Games trials and I actually struggled with it for a while, given that this guy that I’d been racing for all these years had just died. I was invited over to his funeral, so I asked the ASA whether I could go because it was the same week as the trials, and they said no, I had to swim the trials if I wanted to go to the Games. I couldn’t go, as they weren’t going to pre-select me for Auckland, so I swam the trials and almost didn’t make the team because my head just wasn’t right.
Then in Auckland the night before the 100m event one of the Canadian swimmers, Tom Ponting, came to me and said “Look, Victor’s Aunt and Uncle are here and they’ve got his ashes. We’re going to go and scatter them in a boat on Auckland Harbour the day after the swimming finishes because it was one of Victor’s wishes and he really liked it down here. Do you want to come?”
It took me right back to that emotional state from the trials, because this was January and he’d died only two or three months before. So that shook me a bit, but fortunately I managed to put it to one side until the race was over.
The day after the swimming had finished, I found myself out on a boat with 7 other people, 5 Canadian swimmers and his Aunt and Uncle, and we scattered Victor’s ashes on the harbour. It was in its own way quite an emotional moment and it was strange in that it tied together all of my Commonwealth Games experiences, which always had this common thread of Victor and our rivalry running through them.