Stephen Parry (born 1977)
Olympic Bronze Medal winner, 200m Butterfly, Athens Olympics 2004
Stephen Parry was born in Liverpool on 2 March 1977 and was encouraged to learn to swim after falling into the Thames during a boat trip as a youngster!
As a boy he attended Booker Avenue Junior School and the Bluecoat School in Wavertree. Stephen first joined a swimming club in Woolton and then went on to swim for the Liverpool Penguins and City of Liverpool clubs. He started training seriously when he was 12 but also enjoyed playing cricket and basketball for his school teams. Training became more intense when he was 16 and he decided he wanted to take part in the Junior European Championships. The following year, aged 17, he won the competition for Great Britain and wore his British tracksuit with great pride.
Aged 18 Stephen left the UK to attend Florida State University, studying marketing and finance alongside his swimming. He excelled during his time in America, gaining selection for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Team and winning the American National title.
Stephen was very disappointed not to win a medal at the Sydney Olympics finishing in fourth place in his chosen event, the 200 metre Butterfly.
For the Athens Olympics in 2004 Stephen decided to concentrate on the journey, not just the result and this obviously paid off. He finished ahead of Michael Phelps in the semi-final of the 200 metre Butterfly race, becoming one of only three people in the world to beat him.
Then in the final on Tuesday 17 August Stephen finished in bronze medal position with a British and Commonwealth record time. The date will be forever be engraved on his memory, Stephen says standing on the rostrum in his Great Britain tracksuit and seeing the Union Jack blowing in the breeze was the most unbelievable experience of his life.
He also reported that taking part in the Olympic final was
"fascinating, terrifying, I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and got in there!"
Stephen was the GB Swimming Team captain for the Athens Olympics. His 'endearing Scouse wit' has been recorded as one of his best features by other team members, along with his affable character, professionalism and great leadership qualities.
As well as his Olympic medal Stephen has also won World and European Championship medals and three Commonwealth medals during his distinguished career. He is one of the most successful British swimmers ever.
Since returning home from Athens Stephen had decided to retire from competitive swimming. He said,
"I've trained long and hard to realise my dream of winning an Olympic medal and now I have achieved my ultimate goal I feel it is right and proper to retire from the sport I love at the very top."
National Performance Director (for swimming) Bill Sweetenham believes Stephen will be a hard act to follow as captain of the GB Swimming Team.
"Steve is the epitome of persistence. To be able to stay in the sport as long as he has and win an Olympic medal in your final year says a lot about the resilience and drive of the athlete."
Stephen hopes to be able to stay with swimming to support and share his knowledge with young swimmers and help provide guidance and support for the Olympic stars of the future.
Stephen's Olympic bronze medal was on display at the former Museum of Liverpool Life during May and June 2005.
Images provided courtesy of Stephen Parry.