Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

GB Team 'Walking in Wonderland' after Parry's Success

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

GB Team 'Walking in Wonderland' after Parry's Success

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

IT WAS three hours after his race and Stephen Parry still couldn't get through to his poorly father on the phone. "Dad's being a bit of a showbiz queen at the moment. Doing all these interviews, Radio Five Live-ing it," grinned the man who, at a butterfly stroke, had just doubled Britain's medal tally at these Olympic Games.

"I know what his reaction will be, though.

'Well, you qualified fastest so why did you only get a bronze?' " Of course, Mr Dave Parry, suffering from the shingles which prevented him flying out here, would have been just as chuffed about his lad as the rest of us.

Only a bronze? Well, in the Games annals, has any bronze been greeted with such unadulterated relief as this splendid Liverpudlian's in the 200metres butterfly, only the second British gong of these Games and the first by a GB swimmer since Atlanta 1996?

Bill Sweetenham, the gruff Australian coach, was on his feet - and, heck, he was smiling.

Next to him in the stands at the Olympic Aquatic Centre, his team sang that they were "walking in a Parry wonderland".

What wonderland was that, grinned Parry, adding sheepishly: "It's hard, the words coming out of my mouth like this, but it's only a bronze, even though it's a bronze which has taken me 15 years of slog to get. I don't think people sometimes appreciate exactly what it takes to win a medal, any medal, in this sort of arena."

He was probably right. We can be unbelievably harsh on misfiring shooters, weightlifters with bad backs or wayward archers, forgetting the oppressive nature of the spotlight they are under and ignoring the quality of their opposition.

Parry couldn't put his finger on why there had been so many British disappointments in the pool this week, but he offered the plausible suggestion: "Swimming's in a unique, pressurised position. …

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