1986 was a home games albeit with a predominantly Scottish crowd and it was a brilliant atmosphere. There were big Scottish and Welsh contingents as well as the English, when usually if you travel a long way to the Games their teams can be smaller, which meant that a lot of kids you knew from racing in Britain were there and we were all cheering each other on.
When a Scot or an Welshman had a chance, if it wasn’t a direct head to head with one of your team then it would be 60 odd swimmers cheering against the Aussies and Canadians instead of just the individual nations and you felt the roof lift when you were doing your races, which made it a great experience. But also there were lots of friends and people who had been connected with my swimming career in the crowd; before the games people had contacted me and said they were coming to see me swim so it was nice to have all those people around.
And it was a pool I’d swum in a few times before; actually it was a pool that I’d visited when I was 11 as we went on a family holiday up to one of the Lochs and drove through Edinburgh. I was a little club swimmer at the time and I remember my Dad taking me and my brother in for a swim. It was the first time I’d ever seen a 50m pool and I remember thinking how long it looked, but we did a couple of lengths because we had some club championships or something the week after we came back from holiday. That made it a nice feeling to back to it in 86 and remember that it was the first 50m pool I’d swum in.
So with all that going on it was a really interesting meet in Edinburgh; after Brisbane in 1982, Victor Davis won the Olympics in 84 over 200m and I was ranked in the world top 3 so I was battling a lot with him on the world stage and definitely trouble had been brewing between us; we hadn’t really spoken for four years and avoided each other quite a lot.
The 100m was the first race, which I was defending and which I considered my specialist event, and the 200m, in which he was world record holder, came later in the week. So we did the 100m and he beat me by 0.05 or something and I was quite disappointed and he was of course very happy to get the gold but really annoyed me in the interview afterwards. He said something like “I knew it must have been slow down the second half because Moorhouse was still with me” when I was sitting next to him, which upset me a bit.
There were then three days before the 200. He now had the gold medal in the event I thought I was going to win, and I had to take him on over 200 which was his world record holding event and which was my only chance of getting an individual gold medal. The day after the 100 I felt “I’m going to beat him, I’ll have him on his event and that’ll really annoy him”. By the day after that I was really depressed and I felt “there’s no way I’m going to beat him” but then by the day of the race I was back on a positive note.
I swam in the heat and had a steady race but did a really good time to qualify for the final and basically I beat him. I’ve seen the video a lot since and it was just me and him quite a long way ahead of the rest and I remember the third length very clearly. I was probably best at 150m actually, sort of in between 100 and 200 was my best race distance but of course they never raced that. Anyway I remember really hurting and thinking “I’ve got to do another length of this, how on earth am I going to do it?” but then realising that Victor didn’t seem to be that strong and I was a little bit ahead of him, so I decided I could still beat him. It was probably the most painful race of my life but I held him off and won by about half a second.
It felt really good to do that and Victor was really angry about it; in all the press conferences you can see his annoyance on his face, which I was really pleased with at the time. I did however resist the temptation at the press conference to say something like “I knew it was slow because Victor was still with me at the end”. I guess he knew then that I was quite competitive!