By Steve Keating
BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – A loss in his signature 100 metre breaststroke race at the Commonwealth Games will haunt Adam Peaty for years but the Englishman said it has also provided the spark he needs to defend his Olympic gold medal at the 2024 Paris Games.
Unbeaten in the event in eight years, Peaty’s fourth place in Sunday’s final left him and the swim world shocked despite the fact the 27-year-old was returning to competition from a broken foot and only had the cast removed a month ago.
But the triple Olympic champion refused to use injury as an excuse for the disappointing result saying a “defeat is a defeat”.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a broken hand or a broken foot I still turned up,” said Peaty, unbeaten in the 100m breast since the 2014 British championships. “Should I have? I don’t know.
“I do believe everything happens for a reason and I do believe that this reason is that I needed that extra drive into these next two years.
“That’s what the strategy is now, using that hunger of that loss in the 100 to drive me into new territory.
“The spark has been reignited.”
Warning his rivals he was feeling like a cornered lion, Peaty did not waste any time atoning for loss, hitting back with a win in the 50m breaststroke letting out a mighty roar after touching the wall first just .21 seconds ahead of Australia’s Sam Williamson.
But even a gold was not enough to ease the sting of his earlier loss, days later Peaty insisting he found the taste of defeat still hard to swallow.
Meeting with a small group of media, the swimmer was in a relaxed but reflective mood explaining that every elite athlete, at some point, struggles to find motivation.
Now he has found it.
“I get angry thinking about it (the loss),” said Peaty. “I’ll think of that for the next two years.
“What other kind of jet fuel do I have?
“I’ve done everything in the sport I’ve needed to do.
“A lot of people don’t understand and that’s OK but when you are chasing the highest of highs every single year trying to find a new way it almost takes a little bit extra out of you.”
For Peaty there was also a lesson to be learned from the 100m loss but it was one meant for his infant son as much as for him.
“Any parent you want to lead by example,” explained Peaty. “I said to myself, ‘what would you tell George?’ Would you tell him just to ‘give up and go home’.
“No. You tell him ‘to stand up walk out with your proud chest out and fight for it’.
“If he ever comes to me in the next few years and he’s like, ‘Ahh I’m having a tough week how do I bounce back?’
“I will just show him that (race), he was there.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Birmingham. Editing by Pritha Sarkar)