manchester 2002: steve parry (england)

The home games were absolutely amazing. I really wanted to do some special things in Manchester – just because it was only 30 miles away form where I was born and I was training n Manchester at the time and I just felt like it provided the perfect opportunity to do well.

I actually remember being disappointed at first with the size of the stands and thinking “this is rubbish” and then when they added the stands at each end it just became a cauldron of excitement, especially with all the English fans in.

It was actually a great atmosphere and to me it sounded like it was louder than the Olympics people were on top of you and you could see the spectators leaning over the balcony and stiff and I remember thinking that I would never get to experience anything like this again and the whole build up to the occasion was just sensational really and as a team we lived up to and even exceeded the expectations on us with loads of gold medals. It was fantastic to have the Aussies running scared – I don’t think that they expected us to win so many golds and take a couple of clean sweeps. We were proud of what we achieved even though on a personal note I was disappointed not to beat Justin Norris in the 200 flay and to come away with a silver medal.

There was no added pressure though. I was excited by the occasion and I really wanted to do well, but I think it was something to do with the physical preparation leading into the meet rather than anything on the night. i usually find that the more pressure that’s on , the better I swam and that was usually something I responded to positively, so I just didn’t understand why I was a second off my best time. But that’s by the by.

I also swam the 4x200m relay and it was really nice to be apart of that relay. I mean we never challenged the Australian, obviously, but we were challenging the Canadians for a while and just missed out on another silver.

I loved the women’s 200 backstroke and the men’s 50 breaststroke when the guys got the clean sweeps and of course Zoe Baker’s world record in the 50m breaststroke and Ian Thorpe’s in the 400m freestyle – they were fairly impressive.

It was such a buoyant team – I have never known a team that was so positive and it was a just an amazing experience and a great example of a team riding the crest of the wave – so much so that the only competition I would put above it would have to be the Athens Olympics.