20 at 20: Steve Parry, 200 Butterfly, Athens 2004

Look back to a particular balmy night in Athens, and you see Steve Parry lining up in lane 4, the fastest qualifier in the Olympic final of the 200m butterfly. A little over 24 hours earlier he was almost at rock bottom, the 16th qualifier from heats and yet here he was shooting for gold.

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How had he undergone that transformation? When he retired he told Pullbuoy:

“For the first time in my life, I actually believed that I could beat Michael Phelps and that’s when I lay in bed and thought to myself: ‘It’s the Olympic Games, a celebration of courage, I’m going to take it on and see where I truly finish’.

In the end Steve would finish third, having given Phelps a surprise off the third turn by moving right onto his shoulder, but claiming Olympic bronze.

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I spoke to him again, 16 years on from that final to see how his recollections may have changed, and if he still thinks he could have beaten Michael Phelps.



Relive that great final in the video below.

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