Parkins brilliant in Deaflympics

2009-09-30 00:00

TERENCE Parkin continued to rewrite the record books with more outstanding performances at the annual Seagulls Short Course Championships that ended at the King’s Park Pool in Durban on Sunday­.

Last month, the 29-year-old raced to seven gold medals at the World Deaflympics that took place in Taipei, setting two new world deaf records in the 200-metres freestyle and 1 500-metres freestyle and breaking five Deaflympics championships records. In the middle of the championships, he hopped onto his bicycle to earn a bronze medal in the 94-kilometre road race.

At the weekend, Parkin was smiling once again with another seven world deaf records in the short course pool. He began with an amazing 58,31seconds in the 100-metres backstroke before ending his Friday­ racing with an unbelievable three minutes and 55,68 seconds in the 400-metres freestyle to take second place overall.

Boosted by his success on the opening day, the 2000 Olympic silver medallist then challenged his own 200-metres freestyle mark. The result was a three-second improvement as he finished in a fast 1,50,62. But it was a massive haul of four records set on Sunday that again proved exactly what makes Parkin a true example to any swimmer.

His 2,02,77 for the 200-metres butterfly surprised even him before he completed the morning session with a creditable 51,82 seconds for the 100-metres freestyle. But the afternoon session started with the 800-metres freestyle where he swam away from his able-bodied opposition to clock another outstanding 8,07,36 — over 30 seconds under the old world record.

Before his 200-metres backstroke in his final race, he indicated that he normally­ achieves a similar time to his 200-metres butterfly, and he was spot on. Clocking a fast 2,02,83 he took over six seconds off the record he set at the SA Short Course Championships in August in Pietermaritzburg­.

After the amazing success Parkin has achieved since his remarkable comeback after a three-year break from top-class competition, it is a pity that certain organisations have failed to recognise his value to the sport.

In a letter written to the media recently, his wife Ingrid Parkin touched on some important issues that hopefully will be addressed accordingly. As the director of Deaf Education, she is qualified to recognise the value and shortcomings of our society­.

She asks in an e-mail: “What is wrong with South African sports and the media that promotes it? Has the focus moved towards the macabre to such an extent that the blood, sweat and tears of the athletes out there count for nothing unless the result is beset in controversy, lies, failure and fraud?

“The disgusting way the [Caster] Semenya­ case has been handled bears testimony to this. And while this circus has played out, there are sportsmen and sportswomen out there who have made spectacular achievements on the international stage only to be given not one iota of recognition.

“My point in this case is the recent outstanding achievements of Terence Parkin at the Deaflympics in Taipei in September. The Deaflympics is an Olympic event that is attended by 4 000 deaf sportsmen and sportswomen from 91 countries around the world. Terence won seven gold medals, broke two world records and five Deaflympic records (his own from the last Deaflympics in 2005) for swimming. The international media went crazy and dubbed him ‘Silent Torpedo’.

“... Terence arrived home with a hoard of medals around his neck to be greeted by not one iota of recognition by the SA media, sports bodies, or government sporting officials even though they had been informed of his achievements as the Deaflympics progressed.

“Terence has returned home, the most recognised and celebrated deaf sportsman in the world, to the stunning and devastating silence of his own country. Terence has represented SA sports for 14 years in swimming and cycling. He has won 29 gold medals in four Deaflympics — more than any other athlete in the history of the games since it started in 1929. Yet, SA remains ignorant, turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to this international hero who is a child of South Africa.

“Terence and another female SA swimmer single-handedly put SA in second place on the swimming medals table and eighth on the overall medals table at the Deaflympics. South Africa’s attitude and the media’s obvious delight for nothing but the macabre has, for the first time ever, left me embarrassed and utterly disgusted to be a South African.

“I doubt if Terence (who still has many years of sporting excellence left) will ever represent SA in sports again — SA has lost a truly remarkable sporting hero.”

In an interview with Parkin on the weekend, he was overwhelmed at the response from the Midmar Mile who presented him with a cheque of R20 000 for his successes as well as another R20 000 for the Deaf Association.

“Thank you, thank you,” he signed to his interpreter. “Midmar Mile has been very much part of my life and will always be. I will be there next year and who knows what I may be able to do then.”

Parkin will be in action at the Telkom World Cup at the King’s Park pool in Durban on October 15 and 16.

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