Sport Rio 2016 Olympics

Thursday 22 March 2018

Brilliant Peaty ready to push the boundaries

Britain's Adam Peaty competes to break the World Record in the Men's 100m Breaststroke Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016.
Britain's Adam Peaty competes to break the World Record in the Men's 100m Breaststroke Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016.

Ian Herbert

A passionate embrace with your girlfriend outside the Olympic press conference room is one of the more unconventional ways of celebrating a gold medal but that's how Adam Peaty felt in the early hours of Monday, after getting Britain's medal haul off to a sensational start by shattering his world record for a second time in 48 hours.

The 20-year-old lifted Anna Zair from her feet and span her around and around the corridor of the Olympic Aquatic Stadium after a triumph staggering in its proportions and froideur.

The level of expectation on Peaty was monumental, with almost every bookmaker offering odds of 100/1 on for him winning the 100m breaststroke. Yet he was ahead by the turn and won in a time of 57.13 seconds, to become the first British man to win an Olympic Swimming gold since Adrian Moorhouse at Seoul in 1988.

Read more: Adam Peaty and Jazz Carlin make a splash on day two of Rio Olympics

The first medal winner for the British team at these Olympics happens to an individual of modesty and intelligence, whose discussion in the aftermath ranged around such topics as his Nan overtaking his mother for Twitter followers and his tendency to be juvenile and making "weird noises" as he moves around his parents' house in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, which remains his main residence.

Having brought the world record down to 57.1, Peaty said that he was not discounting the idea of record a 56 second time. "You always push boundaries," he said. There's a lot more work going into them than actually saying it. We are going to look back now and see where this race can be improved. You never say never. I'm amazed to go 57.5, 57.6 and 57.1 because consistency means more to me than individual times."

Peaty's constant reference point in his discussion of how he has journeyed from a sometimes difficult 14-year-old to here was his coach, Mel Marshall, who he works with at the City of Derby club. It had been she, he said, with whom he had worked on the most improved part of his technique - his dive - to help him feel certainty about competing on this stage.

"Coming up to worlds (World Championships in Kazan) last year I was a bit anxious, wasn't aware what it was going to be like to compete on the world stage," he said. "But we fixed those problems, fixed my dive, put so much effort into my dive and so much more effort into the back end and that's what you get.


"Me and Mel coming into this meet thought the best possible race we could do is 57.3. 57.1 is... it's absolutely incredible. I can't even put it into words how much that swim meant to me. Going down that last 50, I was aware that I was in front, but not by that much. I touched the wall, looked to my left and I was like 'where is everybody?' That swim for me was probably the best executed; the perfect race."

The inevitable abundance of Peaty stories unearthed in readiness for a win included the rapid rise in popularity of his grandmother, 74-year-old Mavis Williams, who has now overtaken his mother, Caroline on Twitter.

Ms Williams' biography describes her as "Proud Nan to a World Champion Breaststroker,''

"Has she?" Peaty said, when this was put to him that Ms Williams had gone into the lead. "Jesus! My nan means the world to me. I hope she's proud. She's a great nan and has always believed in me as well. I find it kind of funny that they're competing for that as well.

Peaty said the 28-year wait for a male swimming gold since Moorhouse's triumph had been on his mind throughout the build-up to Rio.

"It was always in the back of my mind," he said. "Twenty eight years is a very long time. Going into this race I was so composed so clam I wasn't even thinking of that."

Peaty was famously afraid of water as a child. "I didn't even want to shower when I was young, that's how scared I was," he said. "I overcame that fear obviously and there's nothing more I love than racing now. That's what I love to do."

And with that he was gone. He rejected the idea of drinking champagne, with the 4 x 100m relay to come, though as he departed with his family who wore Team Peaty t-shirts, that seemed promise was looking hard to keep. (© Independent News Service)

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