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January 11, 2005

Gold rush continues for Parkin

From: The South African Star, South Africa - Jan 11, 2005

By Lindsey Arkley

Melbourne, Australia - Terence Parkin has given South Africa another golden day in the pool at the 20th Summer Deaflympics here.

The 24-year-old Parkin yesterday picked up two more gold medals - in the 200m breaststroke, and the 100m freestyle - taking his total number of gold at the Melbourne games to six.

His time of 52:47 in the freestyle event set a new world record for a deaf swimmer.

The latest wins by Parkin have cemented South Africa's third place on the medals table, with seven gold, behind Russia with 10 and Ukraine with eight.

Icing on the cake for South Africa in yesterday's competition came when 22-year-old Greg Lessing, of Gauteng, won silver in the 50m backstroke.

On the weekend, Lessing had won gold in the 200m backstroke, before teaming up with his 18-year-old brother, Nick Lessing, Parkin, and Marko Jansen van Niewenhuizen, to win gold in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay.

All of South Africa's medals at the Melbourne Deaflympics so far have been in the pool, with the six-man squad yet to contest another eight events.

"With athletics and other sports I'm not sure about our medal chances," chef de mission Tony Heyns admitted last night.

"But we still have eight more swimming events, and South Africa might even end up second on the medal table, at least for a while," he enthused.

Following yesterday's performances, Parkin declined to say how highly he rated his chances of adding to his gold medal tally.

"I feel satisfied with my performances so far, but I have several more events coming up and I have to wait until they're over," he said.

But Parkin, who won silver in the 200m breastroke at the Sydney Olympics, said he still felt that at 24, he was still developing as a swimmer.

And he would not discount the possibility of an attempt to qualify for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

"I really feel that I can develop further, especially in the freestyle," he said. "I still feel very motivated, but it depends on the young talent that's coming up, and I can't say yet whether I would have any chance of qualifying for the Olympics again."

Greg Lessing also acknowledged he was contemplating the possibility of Olympics qualification.

"At the moment, I would have to take about seven seconds off my 200m backstroke time to qualify, and the qualifying times are becoming harder," Lessing said. "But I'm very highly motivated and I will persevere, so it might be possible."

Both Lessing and Parkin said they hoped the swimming squad's successes in Melbourne would motivate other hearing-impaired swimmers in South Africa.

"At the 2001 Deaflympics in Rome we had four swimmers," Parkin said.

"This time we have six. When the next Deaflympics are held in Taipei in 2009, I expect we will have an even bigger swimming team."

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