Commentary: The Resurgence of Adam Peaty a Positive for the Sport, and Full of Promise

adam peaty, 2020 european championships, tokyo olympics

Commentary: The Resurgence of Adam Peaty a Positive for the Sport, and Full of Promise

How the final of the 100-meter breaststroke unfolds on Monday at the World Championships in Doha will be determined in a 58-second (or so) timeframe. Maybe American Nic Fink will stand atop the podium. Perhaps that honor will go to Italian Nicolo Martinenghi or Dutchman Arno Kamminga.

Then again, maybe it will be the guy who has dominated the event for the better part of a decade.

This edition of the World Championships is unique in nature. It is being held in an Olympic year, due to scheduling snafus dealt by the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, many of the premier stars in the sport have opted to bypass the competition, and instead have placed their emphasis on upcoming Olympic Trials and, if all goes accordingly, on action in Paris.

But behind the blocks on Sunday night for the semifinals of the 100 breaststroke was an athlete known to all. A future Hall of Famer. A world-record holder. A multi-time Olympic champion. A world titlist. A British fella by the name of Adam Peaty.

In 58.60, Peaty advanced to the final of his prime event as the top seed. Should he get to the wall first in the championship race, it will mark his fourth global crown in the event, complementing golds from 2015, 2017 and 2019. To earn that fourth title, he’ll have to navigate challenges from the likes of Fink (58.73) and Kamminga (58.87), who were the other sub-59 performers in the field.

“I feel good,” said Peaty, coached by Mel Marshall. “My objective for this meet was to progress through the rounds, progress physically and in results, but also progress mentally and see what strategies are working, what isn’t working. It’s more of a test event for us, but obviously we’re going to put our best foot forward and put a good fight on.”

The truth is, wherever Peaty lands on Monday evening, it can be said the sport is in a better place as of February 11, 2024. Peaty has been absent from the past two World Champs while addressing his mental health and finding the spark to push himself in the manner that led him to “undisputed great” standing in the 100 breaststroke. Now, here in mid-February, Peaty has taken a major step forward in returning to the preeminent breaststroker in the world.

Throughout his career, Peaty has been a blessing to swimming. You could love him for his undeniable talent. You could appreciate him for his ability to deliver under pressure. You could honor him for his grit and willingness to speak out against doping and on key issues. And over the past two years, while he was largely out of the spotlight and chase for additional international acclaim, you could recognize him for his willingness to address his personal needs and cast light – from which others could benefit – on the importance of mental health.

By clocking a mid-58 performance in the semifinals at Worlds, Peaty is well off the sub-57 territory only he has visited. And, he has time to cut to get into the 57-second realm, where he has lived more often than anyone. It is also a place that China’s Qin Haiyang has recently made routine, most notably when he won gold at last summer’s World Championships in Fukuoka. Qin, for the record, is not in Doha.

Who knows, maybe something in the 57-second range will come from Peaty in the final. If not, he is inarguably moving in a positive direction on the path to the British Olympic Trials and, in all likelihood, the French capital during summer.

“I’ve switched it up a notch,” Peaty said. “I knew tonight that I needed a little bit of emotion, a little bit of oomph. We got the job done. Mel is going to be pretty happy with that. It’s the fastest we’ve been in two years, maybe a bit more, so it’s starting to look very promising.”

The first titles of the World Champs in Doha were handed out on Sunday night. Yet, a semifinal performance ranked among the most intriguing efforts, and most appreciated. We got a glimpse of Adam Peaty at this global meet for the first time since 2019, and the British star flashed a sense of the talent and hard work that have long been revered. It was great to have him back.

Let’s hope this is just the start.

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L. Guest
L. Guest
13 days ago

As you are American, you do not realise how obnoxious and self-obsessed this person regularly is! A blessing for the sport? I think not!

Peaty > nonamericans??
Peaty > nonamericans??
13 days ago
Reply to  L. Guest

As you are not American, you do not reali(z*)e how salty and ridiculous you sound as a person online. A blessing to the comment section? I think not!

Peaty > nonamericans??
Peaty > nonamericans??
13 days ago
Reply to  L. Guest

also, sorry for trolling you like that. I just didn’t like the fact that you were dissing my man Peaty. He is a huge inspirational figure for me. No hate to you FYI. Your opinion is still valid, as he does dedicate a lot to himself alone, but as he’s said, to be a great athlete, sometimes you must do that.

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