Commonwealth Games: A Cornered Lion, Adam Peaty Roars Back to Claim Elusive Title in 50 Breaststroke

adam peaty, 2021 european championships, tokyo olympics

Commonwealth Games: A Cornered Lion, Adam Peaty Roars Back to Claim Title in 50 Breaststroke

During his spectacular career, Adam Peaty has compared himself to a gladiator entering the arena, ready for battle. This week, after a stunning loss in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games, Peaty suggested he was a cornered lion. Well, the beast roared loudly on Tuesday night, as Peaty collected the lone piece of hardware missing from his gaudy portfolio.

Although not in the form that we’ve historically seen, Peaty flashed enough speed to win gold in the 50 breaststroke at Commonwealths. The 27-year-old covered his length of the pool in 26.76, which supplied a convincing margin over Australian Sam Williamson (26.97). Scotland’s Ross Murdoch got the last place on the podium, as his swim of 27.32 was quick enough to better South Africa’s Michael Houlie (27.36).

A two-time Olympic champion in the 100 breaststroke and world champion on multiple occasions, the only element missing from Peaty’s treasure chest was a title in the 50 breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games. At the 2014 and 2018 editions of the meet, Peaty endured losses in the event to South African Cameron van der Burgh. Now, he has that jewel – and it came while dealing with adversity.

A few days ago, Peaty was expected to easily win the 100 breaststroke at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre. The chase was viewed as a mere formality, much like his other competitions through the years – ranging from the Olympic Games to World Championships to European Champs. In less than a minute, however, Peaty looked like a mortal, as he suffered his first defeat in the event since 2014. More shocking, he finished off the podium in fourth place.

The finish revealed that Peaty was obviously not recovered from the broken foot he endured earlier this year in dryland training. Yet, the setback also offered the Englishman the opportunity to show his resolve and the character that has made him one of the sport’s all-time greats. Rather than scratch out of the competition, Peaty decided to fight on, and tackle the 50 breaststroke at less-than-full strength. Simply, he proved desire and resilience go a long way.

“After the 100, I was at the lowest of the low,” Peaty said. “I had something that was almost guaranteed taken away from me and I took it for granted I think. I was saying to (Murdoch) in the swim-down that I didn’t want to do the 50 and he said, ‘no, you’ll regret it and you’ll regret it the day after, a year after and for life.’ And I’m glad he was there to encourage me.”

The next step for Peaty is to evaluate what unfolded in Birmingham, discuss the week with coach Mel Marshall, and forge a plan for the road to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Of course, part of that plan will include addressing his foot injury, and guaranteeing he is 100% recovered. From there, Peaty can pinpoint areas in his training – physical and mental – which may necessitate change. If nothing else, his hunger should prove beneficial. Peaty was deeply disappointed with the result in the 100 breaststroke, and has spoken about using the instance as a chance to learn and grow.

En route to the Paris Games, it will ve interesting to see how Peaty rebuilds. For the moment, though, it’s worth appreciating his latest effort.

“I struggled to be honest,” Peaty said of his meet. “Really, really struggled. No race exposure. I have no idea what I’m doing. It took until today, toward the end of the meet, to find that, what it’s actually about. I kept myself to myself and it’s been a very tough Games, a very hard Games. I came from literally the lowest point two days ago and I said, ‘You know what, I’m a fighter. I am not going to let anyone take this and just walk it. They are going to work hard for it. It’s the only one I hadn’t won in my whole career and after the 100, I was like ‘ugh, I’m going to have to wait another four years.’ But I knew this was going to be my last Commonwealths, so today was the day to do it. I’ve completed the whole collection now, just got to get some short-course. It is a sweet victory for me.”


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