Olympics 1992 Sunday 26 July: The deep river runs on: Adrian Moorhouse - 100 metres breaststroke: Heats at 9.0am, final at 5.0pm

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The Independent Online
Adrian Moorhouse is 28. In most sports that would merit a passing reference, but for the Yorkshireman it has become a salient point. Barely a conversation about his career fails to mention it. No survey to his prospects in Barcelona would be complete without it.

'I'm bound to be aware of it,' Moorhouse says. 'Everyone keeps going on about it. People have been prattling on about my age for the past four years. They were telling me I was over the hill when I was breaking world records.' Then, mischieviously adding a gallon of four-star to the fire, he says: 'Did you know I was the second-oldest gold medallist even when I won in Seoul?'

Moorhouse arrives in Barcelona as the defending 100 metres breaststroke champion but not as an overwhelming favourite for today's competition (heats at 9.0am, final at 5.0pm). He is not even the British record-holder, an honour deprived him by Nick Gillingham's 1min 01.33sec at the Olympic trials two months ago. And he has gone way beyond the sell-by date of a top-class swimmer.

It is a situation Moorhouse is revelling in. 'I feel a lot more comfortable having people underestimate me,' he says. 'I think losing to Nick at the trials has taken the pressure off me because it's a lot better to do something when people don't expect it of you.'

Moorhouse can also draw comfort from two sources. His defeat by Gillingham in Sheffield came when he had not shaved down - the removal of every exposed hair which can cut down a 100m breaststroke swimmer's time by up to a second - and in a race held when he had already pre-qualified for the Games and did not need to perform. Also, he lost in the trials four years ago, beaten by James Parrack, with a time of 1:03.06, more than a second slower than his effort two months ago.

'Being beaten in 1988 charged me up and made me realise I had to do a bit more to be an Olympic champion,' Moorhouse says. 'The defeat in Sheffield this time makes me realise you don't get a second gold medal just like that. Nick made his statement, now it's up to me to make my own.

'Having an Olympic title I can go there without the stress of thinking I've got to win. I will still come away having been an Olympic champion. So the intense pressure I felt in 1988 when it seemed a matter of life or death isn't there this time.'

Moorhouse, who may or may not retire after the Games - 'It puts a lot of stress on you if you start thinking this is going to be my last swim' - has more achievements than most to draw his relaxed demeanour from, including gold medals at Olympic, Commonwealth and European level and a silver medal in last year's world championships.

'I feel good, the training has gone well and really I can't wait for the Games to come along. It will be a good night afterwards whatever the result. I've not had an alcoholic drink for three months.

'My view on Barcelona is that there are two ways to look at my chances. No one will have more experience than me, and that counts for a lot in major championships. But on the flip side I've already won the thing, and at my age will I have the same motivation?'

The age-old question again.

(Photograph omitted)