commonwealthgamesmemories

auckland 1990: james parrack (england)

openquote.gifMy abiding memory from Auckland was the 100 breaststoke final where I took silver in a memorable England 1-2-3 and the media feeding frenzy that accompanied our success.

Adrian had mixed feelings at the time and it took him a while to put his third consecutive gold into context, and Nick was suffering from a virus at the time and was expecting to do a lot better than he actually did, which left me alone among the three of us feeling rather proud of myself.

This is perhaps the meet about which I remember the most of any meet I have ever been to. I remember the training camp beforehand, where we were served breakfast in bed every morning! I remember everyone swimming for just one hour and coming out burned, the sun was so strong.

I remember sailing dominating the news on tv and how few tv channels there were. I remember thinking just how far away from the UK we were. I remember a long walk to the pool every day for training. I remember arriving at the Games themselves and the good half-hour bus ride to get to the competition pool, which still had scaffolding and workmen working round the clock before the spectator seating was finally ready the night before the competition started. I remember being in a room of four people, and sleeping on a mattress on the floor for the duration of the Games.

I remember having a 20 minute walk just to get to the dining hall to eat breakfast. I remember being on a massage table next to Denise Lewis, who was definitely flirting with me!

I remember being on the same team as Sharron Davies, and thinking how weird that was. When I was 11 years old, I went to see her compete at the national short course champs in Cheltenham in about 1978 and asking for her autograph which I kept on my wall for years. And now here we were, on the same team at the Commonwealth Games twelve years later.

I remember Glenn Houseman being really small, and wondering how he could swim so fast. I remember two swimmers from the smaller African nations locking themselves in the toilets during the heats of the 100 breaststroke, and then me doing a false start in the final. I was nervous and fell in.

I also remember the Commonwealths being such a different experience from the Olympics less than 18 months earlier. It is known as the ‘friendly games’ and for good reason. Where the Olympics are big, cold, very impersonal and desperately serious, the Commies are small, very personal and far less serious, which means more fun. The hosts were incredibly friendly, you mix on and off the poolside far more easily with the other teams, and the New Zealand lamb in New Zealand was sensational.closequote.gif