Deaf Parkin wins silver

2000-09-20 15:18

Sydney - Deaf Durbanite Terence Parkin swam the race of his life to win Olympic silver and rob Italy of a one-two finish in the men's 200m breaststroke.

The effort by the mercurial 20-year-old - he was second last after the first lap - had his teammates in tears.

And he was ecstatic when he saw his name on the board with his new African record 2min 12,50secs alongside it - sandwiched between winner Domenico Fioravanti (2:10.87) and Davide Rummolo (2:12.73).

Parkin punched into the air and jumped up and down in the water.

"I saw I was number two and I was happy, but I had to look again and I was happy again," Parkin said in sign language through coach Graham Hill.

Teammates Sarah Poewe and Charlene Wittstock rushed to congratulate him along with coaches Wayne Riddin and Karoly von Toros.

They all hugged Parkin, wearing a massive smile, and Wittstock had to wipe away the free-flowing tears.

Parkin, who was born deaf after his mother contracted German measles during pregnancy, said he would have been happy even if he had finished last in the race.

"I was happy to make the final... this is a great day. Winning the medal is best."

The shaven-headed torpedo, known for being overly-relaxed before most races, admitted he felt the pressure this time.

"I like to be nervous, it makes me strong. In the psyche room (where swimmers wait before races), I didn't know where to look. I just wanted to go out there and win."

Hill, who first learnt sign language only when Parkin joined his Durban club nine years ago, was also emotional.

"I don't think it's sunk in yet. This is something we've worked for since we started nine years ago. I don't think it's sunk in yet." - Sapa