Adrian Moorhouse

Adrian David Moorhouse MBE (born May 24, 1964) is a British former swimmer who dominated British swimming in the late 1980s. He won the 100 m breaststroke gold medal at the Seoul Olympics. Since then Moorhouse, a former pupil of Bradford Grammar School, has translated his sporting success to a successful career in the business world, as Managing Director of [ Lane 4 Management Group] . He is also a swimming commentator for BBC television.

Early career

Moorhouse was born in Bradford, attended Bradford Grammar School and went to 4th Shipley Scouts. In 1980 he was selected for the England Junior team and broke the national junior records for both the 100 m and 200 m breaststroke. When he was 15, he was chosen for the national senior squad, number two to the Olympic gold medallist, Duncan Goodhew.

Moorhouse became Britain’s number one breaststroke swimmer in 1981 when he won a bronze medal for the 200 m in the European Championships in Yugoslavia. The following year he gained his first taste of gold after winning the 100 m breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

At the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, Moorhouse was tipped for a gold medal in the 100 m breaststroke but missed out completely coming fourth. “I was devastated”. He says. “After the Games I convinced myself that I had no talent and that I was never going to win again. I didn’t want anything to do with swimming”.

He celebrated his comeback in April 1985 when he broke the World Short Course (25 m pool) record for the 100 m, and went on to win the European Championship gold medal in Bulgaria.

In 1986, Moorhouse suffered another setback to rank with his Olympic debacle, finishing first in the World Championships in Madrid but being disqualified for an illegal turn.

In 1987, putting the Madrid episode behind him, Moorhouse became the first person in history to swim 100 m breaststroke in under a minute, out-swimming the former world record holder, Rolf Beab, in front of a partisan German crowd in Bonn, in a time of 59.75 s.

Moorhouse started Olympic year, 1988, on the right note by winning the 100 m breaststroke at the US Indoor Championships to confirm his status as number one in the world. In September he achieved a lifetime’s ambition at Seoul when, following in the footsteps of David Wilkie and Duncan Goodhew, he won Olympic gold in the 100 m breaststroke.

Rivalry with Victor Davis

Perhaps the most enduring memories of Adrian Moorhouse's career arise from his arch-rivalry with the late Victor Davis of Canada. It is very rare in competitive swimming to witness an exciting rivalry that lasts for years between two world-class swimmers, but theirs was possibly the best of all.

Victor Davis first encountered Adrian Moorhouse at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane when Davis took gold in the 200 m breaststroke, and Moorhouse took the gold in the 100 m breaststroke. Both races were nail-bitingly close, and set the scene for some epic breaststroke encounters to come in the years ahead.

They met again later at the 1982 World Championships in Guayaquil, Ecuador, but this time Davis had the upper hand in both events, taking the gold in the 200 m and silver in the 100 m. Moorhouse, also in his first World Championships, only managed to finish 5th in the 100 m, and 7th in the 200 m.

Their next encounter was at the 1984 Olympics, and it seemed that both their chances were enhanced by the voluntary boycott of both East Germany and the Soviet Union. The 1984 Games were perhaps Victor Davis’ finest competition, as he took gold in the 200 m and silver in the 100 m. Meanwhile, Moorhouse suffered badly. Having had severe tonsillitis just days before the start of the Games, he finished 4th in the 100 m and 6th in the 200 m. Davis, now at the pinnacle of his swimming career, was voted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame.

At the time of the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Victor Davis was universally recognised as the finest breaststroker in the world. He reaffirmed that recognition by taking gold in the 100 m event. However, Adrian Moorhouse was improving rapidly. Now the European Champion, he surprised Davis by sneaking the gold in the 200 m event.

By the time of the 1986 World Championships in Madrid, the world swimming media were hyping up the 100 m breaststroke event as ‘the event of the championships’, knowing that it would inevitably prove to be another great battle between Victor Davis and Adrian Moorhouse.The media, along with the 6,000 crowd, were not to be disappointed. Moorhouse was in great shape, and getting faster all the time. Davis couldn't contain Moorhouse over the final 25 m, and Moorhouse took the 100 m gold in a new European Record of 1.02.01 secs. Davis took the silver in 1:02.71, and looked disgusted with himself as he climbed out of the pool. However, the controversy was soon about to begin.

The officials decided to disqualify Moorhouse for an ‘illegal turn’, stating that he had used a butterfly kicking action during the underwater phase of the 50 m turn. TV crews from around the world began to analyse the footage of the ‘illegal turn’ from all conceivable angles, but each time it looked perfectly sound.

The British camp tried to appeal against the decision, but the call of the ‘turn judge’ was upheld and Victor Davis was awarded the gold medal, leaving Moorhouse with absolutely nothing. Davis received his gold medal on the rostrum looking decidedly dejected; he was the ultimate perfectionist, and didn’t feel as if he had truly won this race against his closest rival. He also knew Moorhouse well, and was aware that it had taken more than just an "illegal turn" for him to beat Davis by more than half a second. Later in the same championships, Davis went on to take silver in the 200 m breaststroke — beaten by the emerging Hungarian swimmer, Josef Szabo. Meanwhile, Moorhouse withdrew from the 200 m event with a strained adductor muscle.

The final encounter between Davis and Moorhouse at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, which also proved to be Davis’ final international competition. Both of them had announced before the Games that the 100 m event was to be their main priority. Davis had performed poorly at the Canadian Olympic Trials, and had surprisingly not made the team in the 200 m breaststroke, while Moorhouse was then in the form of his life. He was ranked no.1 in the world, and his lifetime best of 1:01.78 was then very close to the world record 1:01.65.

Davis, still the Canadian Record Holder at 1:01.99, was only ranked 6th in the world going into the 1988 Olympics and no-one really knew what kind of shape he was going to be in. In the morning heats, Davis looked very impressive. He led the field from the start, and easily won his heat in a time of 1:02.48. Only Moorhouse was able to qualify in a faster time, winning his heat in a superb time of 1:02.19.

In the anticipation before the final, many people believed that Moorhouse was the slight favourite, but some pundits still had the feeling that Davis had one more great swim left up his sleeve. After one false start, Moorhouse looked the more nervous of the two behind the starting blocks. Meanwhile, Davis looked very cool and calm. He was now vastly experienced, and ready to deliver the ultimate performance.

The race was underway at the second time of asking. Both Davis and Volkov made strong starts, leaving Moorhouse slightly trailing. As the first 50 m unfolded, Dmitri Volkov of the USSR powered into a 2-metre lead, and Davis was matched stroke for stroke by Moorhouse. Volkov touched first at the 50 m mark in 28.12s, setting a new 50 metre breaststroke world record. Moorhouse turned 6th in 29.42s, and Davis turned 7th in 29.46 s. Volkov made an amazing turn, and extended his lead over the field even more. As Volkov reached the 75 m mark, he looked a certainty for the gold medal. He was 3–4 metres ahead of Moorhouse, Davis and Karoly Guttler of Hungary, but he was tiring fast. It was at this point of the race where Davis and Moorhouse usually made their move, and they closed in on Volkov. As the swimmers entered the final 5 metres, it was difficult to tell where the medals were going to go.

In an extremely close finish, Moorhouse took the gold in 1:02.04, just ahead of Guttler’s time of 1:02.05, only one one-hundredth of a second separating the two of them.

The bronze medal was won by Volkov, in a time of 1:02.20, leaving Victor Davis in 4th place, with a time of 1:02.38.

Later career and retirement

In 1989 Moorhouse was appointed MBE. He remained as the world number one until 1991.

But in 1992 year he started to slip and in Barcelona Olympic Games only managed eighth in the final.

He retired from swimming after the Games and since then has enjoyed a successful career as management development consultant advising companies on how best to use their personnel resources. One of his best friends was Graham Brookhouse who was in the same olympic team only Graham was competing in the Modern Pentathlon at the 1988 Summer Olympics

Today he rarely swims and his only contact with the sport is through his commentary work with the BBC.

External links

* [ Profile of Adrian Moorhouse from 1990]

NAME=Moorhouse, Adrian
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Moorhouse, Adrian David
SHORT DESCRIPTION=British former swimmer
DATE OF BIRTH=24 May, 1964
PLACE OF BIRTH=Bradford, United Kingdom

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