Terence Parkin: Deaflympics giant


23 October 2009

A silver medalist at the 2000 Olympics, deaf swimmer and cyclist Terence Parkin has dominated the Deaflympics like no other athlete, accumulating 29 medals over more than a decade. At the recent Fina Swimming World Cup in Durban, he showed that he can still challenge the best in the world.

Lost among the world and South Africans records set at in Durban last weekend was a strong performance by Parkin in the men’s 200 metres breaststroke.

Back in 2000, Parkin announced himself to the swimming world by winning silver in the same event at the Sydney Olympic Games.

Now 29, Parkin made his return to “mainstream” competitive swimming a good one, clocking two minutes, 8.64 seconds – which, as 2000 Olympic Games team coach Wayne Riddin pointed out, was comparable to the times Parkin was swimming back in 2000.

World Championship medals

Parkin has been an exceptional performer for many years now. Back in 2000, at the Short Course World Championships in Athens, he won silver in both the 200 metres breaststroke and the 400 metres individual medley.

Much like Michael Phelps has become a giant of the Olympics Games, culminating in his record-setting eight gold medals at the Beijing Games in 2008, so Parkin has become a giant in the world of the deaf at the Deaflympics.

In 2001, at the Rome Deaflympics, Parkin claimed five titles – the 100 and 200 metres freestyle, the 100 and 200 metres breaststroke, and the 400 metres individual medley. That, however was merely a precursor to his astounding collection of results the the 2005 Deaflympics in Melbourne.

2005 Deaflympics

In that year, Parkin became the most successful competitor in the history of the Games, winning an incredible 12 gold medals and one silver.

In the freestyle, he won the 100 and 400 metres in Games record times and captured the 200 and 1 500 metres with world records.

He won the 50 metres breaststroke in a world time, and also claimed the 100 and 200 metres titles.

To this he added the 200 metres butterfly, with another world record, as well as the 200 and 400 metres individual medley. Parkin was also part of another two world records, in the 4×100 medley relay and the 2×200 freestyle relay. His silver came in the 4×100 relay.

His success spoke volumes about his fitness, competitive drive, and sheer talent.

Thanks mostly to Parkin, South Africa came in third place overall on the medals table with a haul of 19, including 13 gold, four silver and two bronze medals.

2009 Deaflympics

In recent times, Parkin’s focus has been on cycling, but he was back in the pool for the 2009 Dealympics in Taipei and, once again, was on the winning trail.

He was unbeaten in the swimming in the seven events he entered, claiming gold in the 50, 100, and 200 metres breaststroke, the 200 and 400 metres individual medley, and the 200 and 1 500 metres freestyle.

On top of this, he proved he was excellent at cycling too by finishing third in the 93-kilometre road race.

Parkin’s cycling success shouldn’t have surprised anyone. In 2006, he won gold at the World Deaf Cycling Championships in the road race and picked up silver in the mountain bike event.

With Parkin leading the way, South Africa finished eighth on the 2009 Deaflympics medals table with eight gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

That he managed this success at the age of 29 confirms Parkin as an exceptional athlete, and the most successful athlete in the history of the Deaflympics, much like Phelps in the Olympics.

Deaflympic medals haul

Parkin has now accumulated 29 medals in four visits to the Deaflympics. Prior to Melbourne 2005, he claimed seven medals in Copenhagen in 1997: gold in the 200 freestyle, silver in the 100 backstroke, bronze in the 200 backstroke, gold in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, and gold in the 200 and 400 individual medley.

A loyal supporter of South Africa’s Midmar Mile, the world’s largest open water swimming event, which he won in 2000 and 2002, Parkin received a cheque for R20 000 from the organisers in 2009. The Deaf Association of SA was also presented with a cheque for R20 000.

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

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