Soul-searching after shock loss leaves Adam Peaty with unanswered questions


Ever since the seismic shock of the 100m breaststroke defeat, but outside of the medals, Adam Peaty’s head has been swirling since the seismic shock.

Two nights ago, tossing and turning in bed and only two hours of sleep, thoughts ran through his head. He wondered: “You think: do I want to be here? Do I love the sport as much as I used to?’”

The answer was simply “I don’t know” and these are questions he will have to answer in the coming weeks.

Laura Kenny endured a similar mentality at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark after finishing 13th in the points race on Sunday, and her husband Jason said she thought the scratch race could be the last race of her illustrious career.

But a pre-race pep talk to herself in the toilet beforehand and the reassurance that she could do it resulted in her coming out of the track yesterday with gold.

How Peaty talks to himself tonight in the guts of Sandwell Aquatics Center remains to be seen, but there has been a mix of thoughts and emotions since his surprise defeat to James Wilby, his first by distance loss in eight years.

One minute he was talking about dealing with gold alone and like a lion being pushed into a corner to bite, the next he was downplaying the importance of a Commonwealth Games taking place in front of his home crowd just 40 miles from where he grew up. upwards.

After winning a dead heat in his 50m semi-final, he said: “It will probably be my last attempt at the Commonwealth tomorrow. But it doesn’t bother me, because Commonwealth? For me? In the grand scheme of things it is about two years [the Olympics] and that is no disrespect.”

Paris 2024 is clearly the big one on the horizon, but it also smacked of kidology, for both his rivals and himself, with 50m Commonwealth breaststroke gold, the only major title to have eluded him.

He later apologized on social media for the comments, saying: “Sometimes in the heat of battle my emotions are better for me. These championships mean a lot to me as a home game.”

Adam Peaty finished fourth in the 100m breaststroke final.

/ AFP via Getty Images

The reality is that Peaty has nothing left to prove in a sport he has long dominated. Teammate and close friend James Guy took him aside after his last last loss and simply said, “Mate, don’t let swimming define you.”

The comment resonated for Peaty, who said: “As athletes, we always think our results define us. And the whole world sees us as results. But you know what? I’m still doing what I’ve been doing for the past eight years. I’ve still won every championship, done all the world records.

‘That has not been taken from me. I just had a bad day at the office and we all have bad days at the office, don’t we?”

Unconvincingly, Peaty said he wasn’t looking for gold in this shorter distance final, but only for his best swim possible.

Maybe he shouldn’t think too much. The reality is that he broke his foot 10 weeks ago, a few weeks ago he was still in a boot and it was only in the final days leading up to Birmingham that he was able to dive into the water for the first time in two-and-ones. -half month. It turns out that Peaty on one leg, unsurprisingly, is not invincible.

Amid all the Peaty focus, it went a little under the radar that another friend of his in Duncan Scott became the most decorated Commonwealth athlete in Scotland’s history late last night. Scott took bronze in the men’s 100m freestyle and another bronze in the 4x200m relay for the 11th Commonwealth medal of his career.

Amid a packed schedule, Scott has a rare evening off tonight with the prospect of more medals on the final night tomorrow.

“It’s been tough physically and mentally in a row and I have tomorrow off to reset,” he said. “I feel better… because I struggled with the first few days I had.”