Adam Peaty Spurred On By A Drive That Is “Almost Demonic” Following Defeat At Commonwealth Games

ADam Peaty 2021 Europeans
Adam Peaty: Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

It’s the memory of that moment of defeat at the 2022 Commonwealth Games that has ignited in Adam Peaty a drive that is “almost demonic” in its relentlessness and intensity.

With the words ‘ride’ and ‘fuel’ tattooed across his knuckles, seared on to his consciousness is the evening of 31 July at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre where the three-time Olympic champion finished fourth in the 100m breaststroke as England teammate James Wilby took the title.

It was the first time Peaty had experienced defeat over two lengths since making his international debut at the 2014 Games.

It followed a turbulent few months for the 27-year-old after a broken foot forced his withdrawal from the World Championships in June.

He managed to return from his 100br defeat to claim the 50m title for the first time before bringing his season to an early end by pulling out of the Europeans in Rome.

Peaty went on holiday before returning to the pool at the National Training Centre, Loughborough, where with coach Mel Marshall, he has set his sights on the World Short-Course Championships in December in Melbourne and beyond to the Fukuoka worlds and Paris 2024.

Reliving that night in July drives Peaty on, just as 50br silver did at the 2018 Commonwealths ahead of the Tokyo Olympics where he became the first British swimmer to successfully defend a title in the pool.

He said:

“It’s like a poison in my veins.

“Once I think of that moment – I’m like ‘okay, if I’m going 5k today, is there an option to go six?’

“If I’m going 12 50s max, is there an option to go 20?

“It’s given me that – I don’t even know what it is – people call it competitive edge but for me it’s more than competitive edge, it’s relentlessness, it’s kind of almost demonic.

“It just takes over me, and I don’t want to experience another moment like that again honestly.”

adam peaty, 2021 european championships, tokyo olympics

Adam Peaty: Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Perottino / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Following his 50br victory at the Commonwealths, Peaty placed the gold medal around Marshall’s neck before speaking to Swimming World where he described the hours between 100br fourth and 50br gold as “very difficult” for both him and Marshall.

Peaty said in Birmingham:

“I said to her: one, make me angry and two, I don’t want her to be a pushover.

“I want the old Mel back right now; I need the one that’s going to say ‘you know what? You’re going to play, you’re going to fight, you’re going to do it’”

They had, he said, learned more in the previous two days than in the last four years with Peaty looking to once more find that balance for the journey into Paris 2024.

Peaty continued:

“She’s back! We have our meetings of what made us good and what needs to get better this year.

“And I said look we just need to go old school. Swimming’s swimming really. So I need my metres, I need my power, I need my strength.

“Everything that made me great two years ago, six years ago – I need more of that.

“It is really just stripping it back down to the basics; turn up every single day, stay present, get the work done, go home.”

Peaty separated from former partner Eiri Munro in August with the pair co-parenting two-year-old son George.

The eight-time world champion will be away for almost 10 weeks from 8 December through to 11 February when short-course worlds in Australia will be followed by a training camp.

He said:

“Eiri and George have moved away from up here so that’s a little bit of a different dynamic but one that’s completely necessary for the family’s happiness and for me for my training and it’s working very well so far.

“I wanted to get that out there because I know people are speculating and what not.

“But that’s again what I mean by the next two years that I don’t think there’s anyone out there that’s going to be more all in than me. I know the price it’s going to take for these next two years and Mel knows the price.

“So I have got that old Mel back – she never went anywhere but it’s kind of that age-group relentlessness I guess.”

Tribute To “Absolutely Fantastic” Former Partner Eiri

High-performance sport requires years of devotion and dedication to physical, psychological and nutritional training.

For Peaty, sport is his life and of whether the demands of sport and the commitments required in and out of the pool contributed to their separation, he said:

“Eiri knows that I put 110 plus more % into what I do and it does require a lot. It requires a lot of sacrifice from both sides.

“But it’s more to do with energy and more to do with time for other things.

“I haven’t got a normal life – I know that – I can’t go out on the weekend, I can’t go out to the pub, can’t go out with my mates, can’t eat rubbish food, don’t do all this.

“But that’s the choice. And that’s the choice that has got me 32 gold medals at senior internationals and 14 world records.

“So I pay that price without even thinking about it because I know that’s worth it but if someone is in that life and doesn’t really get that gratification or that validation, I think people struggle.

“And that may break down relationships – I’m not saying that is the cause – but it might have contributed, I don’t know, because it is what it is right?

“But Eiri has been absolutely fantastic in this whole journey the last two or three years. She will be pinnacle, she’ll be family for the rest of my life so it’s just making sure I can be there for everyone else where I can.

“Also, I need that support from everyone else when I am racing and training.”

Duncan Scott, Burnout And Feeling Mentally Refreshed


Duncan Scott & Adam Peaty: Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

It has been a testing season in many ways for Peaty’s British teammates who were faced with competing in three major internationals in a little over eight weeks.

Duncan Scott was forced to withdraw from the World Championships in June with the after-effects of Covid-19.

He returned to win two golds among a six-strong haul for Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games but didn’t compete at the Europeans in Rome which was an optional meet for the British.

Scott and Peaty have won world titles and claimed Olympic silver as teammates in the men’s medley relay.

Peaty pointed to the benefits of a break for an athlete’s mental health as much as the physical benefits, saying:

“I think Duncan really struggled with his illness and just bouncing off from that.

“Once you get burned out it’s very hard to get back out of that; I have spoken to Duncan various times and he is just look ‘it’s very, very tiring gong from Olympics – high – ISL – high – short course championships – high.

“And then going back into another training block in January and doing all that April and going into worlds, commies and euros and expect to perform at everything.

“I feel like I am probably in one of the best positions mentally I have ever been because I took myself away from the sport and I needed to do that, I needed to have a clean slate.

“And yes, I did Commonwealths and yes, I did train through my broken foot but it did also allow me to be normal a little bit.

“And I am paying the price every day now and I love that.”

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x