kuala lumpur 1998: steve parry (england)

openquote.gifKuala Lumpur had 13300 odd seats and it was absolutely unbelievable and they were very, very enthusiastic there. Of course the Commonwealth Games creates lots and lots of rivalries and I’d never seen anything like it and it was something I really enjoyed actually and something I was completely up for so I was just really proud to be taking part.

It’s not very often you get to compete for England and I was proud to have that tracksuit on and there’s a different dynamic. The occasion was just so much fun – it didn’t seem so fierce as some of the other meets I’d been to. There was a really big feel good factor.

It was Ian Thorpe’s games really and it was the first time that most of us had seen him and were amazed that a sixteen year old lad could produce these amazing performances in the freestyle events. And I remember swimming against him in the final of the 200m fly and thinking that there is no way I was going to be beaten by a 16 years old! but fortunately I managed to get the better of him and it was also great to get a medal at my first games. I remember seeing a lot of James Hickman’s feet during that race – that is the main thing that sticks in the mind, how far ahead he was in that race.

I was astonished by the 1500 free as well – there was Grant Hackett, Kieren Perkins and Ryk Neethling and I remember thinking what a quality event that was and what an amazing job those guys were doing.

But the main thing about the Commonwealth games is the size of the event. it’s one thing going to a European Championships or a world championships, but to go to a multi sport event in a far foreign land with purpose built flats and facilities but is absolutely sensational. And I think the enormity of the occasion and the sheer size of the whole event really took me aback.closequote.gif