Terence Parkin


Olympic silver medalist

Terence was born 12 April 1980 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He is a deaf swimmer who won the silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in the 200 metres breaststroke. He also competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics, as well as the 2005 Deaflympics in which he took home two gold medals.

Terence Parkin has also been a regular competitor in the Deaflympics games for deaf athletes, competing in both swimming and cycling. He attended the 1997, 2001, 2005, and 2009 Deaflympics, winning a total of 34 medals. Thirty-one of these medals were golds.

Click here to see coach Wayne Ridden interview Terence

Today Parkin lives and trains in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is married and has several children. Parkin also coaches swimming at the Parkin-Windex Academy. In addition to his achievements at the Olympics and Deaflympics, Parkin has twice won the Midmar Mile, a popular open-water race held in South Africa.

2X Olympics, 5X Deaflympics, 1X Deaf world Champ Cycle, 2X FINA World Swimming, 2X Commonwealth Games, 8X Dusi, 21X Midmar Mile. 16 Hold Deaf World Record.

He was born deaf and uses sign language to communicate with his swimming coach. He started swimming at 12 years old. He holds the African record for 200 and 400 meters individual medley. He believes deaf people can succeed and win medals. He tries to improve himself by joining competitions and he won a medal in the Olympics.

He had a problem where he could not hear the tone for the swimming race to start. So his coach would stand where Terrence could see him and the coach would sign, “GO!” Today, there is new technology, which uses lights that flash when it is time for the swimmers to start swimming.

Scroll down to read an interview with coach Graham hill and Terence, which explains how he started swimming.

Terrence swam in his first Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Terrence won second place for 200 meter breaststroke in the Olympics of 2000. When he touched the end of the pool, he saw “2” on the scoreboard. He thought it was the lane number, but later, he found out that he won 2nd place! That meant he won a silver medal. He was so happy because he knew deaf people could do it! “I think it will confirm that deaf people can do things,” Terrence said in an interview.


Parkin out to win, prove deaf can compete

Terence Parkin will be swimming at his first Olympic Games in Sydney this year. The 20-year-old South African was born with a severe hearing disability and uses sign language to communicate with his coach. But that hasn't stopped him from getting to the

Olympics, where he is hoping to make his mark.

"I am going to the Olympics to represent South Africa, but it's so vitally important for me to go, to show that the deaf can do anything," Parkin says. "They can't hear, they can see everything. I would like to show the world that there's opportunities for the deaf."

Parkin, who owns the African record in the 400 individual medley, won two silver medals earlier this year at the Short Course World Championships in Athens.

Parkin doesn't regard himself as being disabled, and when he's with hearing people, he feels he is their equal.

The South African wants to do the best he can in Sydney, and says he improves by always competing against himself. It's that attitude and the determination to succeed despite his deafness, that has got Parkin to Sydney where he'll be hoping to be rewarded with an Olympic medal.

In addition to his prowess at various Deaflympic and able-bodied competitions, Parkin is a father of two and swimming coach at the Parkin-Windex Academy, responsibilities that he fits in around his training commitments (some seven hours a day, a workload that fellow South African swimmer and multiple Olympic gold medallist Roland Schoeman regards with respect and awe).

A two-time winner of the Midmar Mile (the world’s largest open water swimming event), his abilities and achievements have been recognised by sponsors, fellow athletes and commentators. 

Interview with coach Wayne Ridden about a planned comeback in 2012

Terence Parkin in comeback bid

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

Terence Parkin during day 1 of the international swimming invitational at the Kings Park Aquatic Center on January 28, 2012 in Durban, South Africa


25 Augustus 1995 - Die Burger

Met handgebare en al spat dowe Nataller water in Britse juniors se oë

KAAPSTAD. Terence Parkin moet hom op die handgebare van sy afrigter verlaat om weg te spring, maar dié struikelblok ten spyt, is dié jong Nataller wat van geboorte doof is besig om opslae te maak by die Britse nasionale junior gala in Leeds. Danksy die moderne tegnologie en elektroniese wegspringblokke (kompleet met 'n kamera wat flits wanneer die swemmers afgesit word) kan Parkin deesdae swem in enige geselskap wat hy kies. Die 15-jarige st. 7-leerling aan die Fulton skool vir dowes in Durban, het die afgelope week Brittanje, Amerika en Ierland se top- juniors in Leeds uitgestof en spog reeds met vier goue medaljes en 'n silwermedalje, terwyl nog 'n paar wink. Maar volgens Parkin se pa, Neville wat vroeg in die jare tagtig die Rhodesiese rugbyspan op die flank verteenwoordig het) is die kamera nie altyd so betroubaar nie ``veral nie in die donderstorms in die Pietermaritzburg omgewing of wan neer die lig baie skerp is nie.'' Daarom verlaat Parkin hom veel eerder op sy afrigter, Graham Hill (self 'n gewese Springbok swemmer) wat sy protégé van die oorkant van die swembad met 'n handgebaar tot aksie beveel. Parkin spog met goue medaljes in die 100 borsslag (1:07.54), 400 wisselslag (4:37.68), 100 vryslag (54.76) en die 400 vryslag (4:08.97) en 'n tweede plek in 1:57.09 in die 200 vryslag. Vier Suid-Afrikaanse ouderdomsrekords het ook in die proses in die slag gebly, terwyl hy met sy wentyd in die 400 vryslag die Natalse ouderdomsrekord van 21 jaar van die huidige nasionale afrigter, Simon Gray, verpletter het. Hoewel hy maar drie jaar gelede begin swem het, het hy al verlede jaar by die Britse junior gala sukses begin smaak toe hy 'n goue medalje en twee silwermedaljes verower het. Vroeër vanjaar by die SA junior gala in Bloemfontein is hy as die beste swemmer aangewys en voor sy span se vertrek na Engeland het dieselfde eer hom by die nasionale wintergala in Sasolburg te beurt geval.


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.

Click here to see the results all Terence's Olympic results


by Stan Griffin, Deaf Friends International Special Contributor

"I think it will confirm that deaf people can do things." These were the words of Terence Parkin talking about his second-place finish in the Sydney Olympics 200-meter breaststroke final on September 20.

Asked about other effects of his performance, Parkin said, "Most deaf people in other countries know each other (and) ... know me. Not just athletes, it's beyond that ... (The deaf) help each other, and I hope this will help them."

Parkin has been swimming since the age of 12. Working with him has been his coach and friend, Graham Hill. During his career, Parkin earned distinction as his continent's fastest swimmer in the 200-meter breaststroke and the 400-meter individual medley. (Competitors in the medley must use four different strokes, one on each of the race's four legs: butterfly; backstroke; breaststroke, and freestyle).

Being deaf presents a problem at the beginning of each race when an electronic tone signals the official start. For a while, Hill would stand in Parkin's line of sight and signal him. They improved on that by using a light like a camera flash. Eventually they began using a strobe light, and this continues to work very efficiently. If there are swimmer introductions (as in most important races), Hill continues to cue him.

Parkin once used hearing aids when competing, but all the crowd noise disturbed him and made him nervous. He found it hard to "focus." Now, without the aids, there is a quiet atmosphere for the swimmer. Parkin is able to concentrate without audible interference and can think about his goals for the race.


In Sydney, once he touched the pool's end on his final lap, Parkin looked up at the scoreboard to verify his finishing position. He saw a "2," but at first thought this was just his lane number. Soon it became clear that he had entered "silver country." He clenched his fists, "punched the sky," and then draped South Africa's flag around his shoulders. Parkin's grin stretched from ear to ear.

On the day after his medal-winning race, Parkin and Hill were guests of the South African Club at Sydney's Darling Harbor. Crowds of spectators gathered to see them. As Parkin moved around the room accepting congratulations, some of the people shook his hand while others thumped him on the back.

During a live interview broadcast to South Africa, Parkin expressed the hope he could inspire athletes from smaller countries to win medals.

Even in the midst of such a joyful celebration, Parkin was brought back to earth by the words of a well-meaning but thoughtless South African official to his audience: "Can you imagine without that handicap of his how great he would be?" Parkin would disagree, believing that he actually holds an advantage in the pool since he is "capable of everything but hearing."

Parkin spent a sleepless night before his big race. On the night after, though, he slept well--he had his medal to keep him company!


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