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Terence Parkin, the Olympic silver medallist from Sydney 2000, has announced plans of a comeback to competitive swimming.
The deaf swimmer, who turns 32 in April, has not ruled out a bid to qualify for the London Olympic Games later this year.
He famously made headlines almost 12 years ago when he finished second in the men's 200 metres breaststroke.
Parkin took the first major steps towards a return last month when he swam at a two-day international swimming invitational in Durban.
“I started training in earnest in the middle of last year just to see what I was capable of achieving at my age,” he said.
“I had been doing a lot of triathlons, cycling and running, which I really love too.
“So I have been keeping fit and once I started to swim I just felt good in the water and thought, maybe I’ll come back and try again.”
The Zimbabwe-born athlete competed in a range of events in Durban, but in his main event, came first in his heat and then ended fourth in the final with a time of two minutes, 18.62 seconds.
Parkin, now based in Johannesburg where he has a family and works as a swimming coach said he was reluctant to commit to an Olympic goal, realising the high standard set for qualifying times.
“I got 2:18 at that meet but the qualifying time is 2:11, so I’m not sure if I can shave seven seconds off in a few short months,” Parkin said.
“But I will still continue to train and work hard to improve my times.”
South Africa’s swimming head coach Graham Hill was also pleased by what he saw and expected Parkin to do his best to try and get back to the highest level.
“You can never say no to Terence that's his whole strategy, that's his whole plan. He never gives up, he never says no,” said Hill.
“I have seen him and he has been working with me over the December and January period and has been as committed as ever in the pool.”
As for the Olympic dream, Parkin, who swam a 2:12.50 to finish second behind Italian Domenico Fioravanti over a decade ago, is not willing to put a definitive answer forward.
“I won't commit myself to a definite answer,” said Parkin.
“I'm aware of how hard the competition is today and don't want to end up disappointed.”
If Parkin wants to qualify, he will have to swim inside the 2:11.74 qualifying time at the national trials to be held in Durban in April.
He will then need to swim the time once more at a Fina meet in accordance with a SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) policy that requires swimmers to record an A-standard time twice in the lead-up to the Games. – Sapa