Adam Peaty has warned his opponents he is like a wounded lion ready to bite back in the 50m breaststroke final on Tuesday following his shock Commonwealth Games defeat in the 100m on Sunday.
The Olympic champion had only had two hours’ sleep on Sunday after finishing fourth behind his England teammate James Wilby – his first defeat over 100m since 2014. But he came back to win his heat on Monday morning and then his semi-final in the evening in 27.03sec, beating Wilby by 0.62sec.
Afterwards his only gripe appeared to be about the starter. “We were held for three seconds before the 100m and it’s been the same for the 50m,” he said. “They’ve either got to change that, or change the starter.” But when asked if a wounded Peaty was a dangerous one, he nodded. “Oh yeah, definitely,” he replied. “Back a lion into a corner and they are going to bite. I’m backed into a corner now.
“Maybe it’s God’s will to get to this point to have this real low because it is a real low. Obviously, it was a devastating night for me.
“I just couldn’t switch off because when you’re in defence mode, you’re asking yourself: ‘What’s gone wrong?’ That’s who I am. I’m always looking to see how I get better. I don’t come here for fourth or silver or bronze. That is why I am not happy.”
The Commonwealth Games 50m breaststroke title is the only competition that Peaty has never won. But the 27-year-old was given a reminder that he will not have things all his own way by the Australian Sam Williamson, who qualified fastest overall by winning the second semi-final in 27.01sec.
“It will probably be the last attempt at it,” said Peaty. “But I am not bothered. In the grand scheme of things it is about the Olympics in two years’ time. I am four weeks into my programme.”
Peaty also admitted that he was undercooked in his first competition since fracturing his foot in May, but said his fighting instinct had made him want to keep coming back. “I haven’t really had a winter block where I’ve reset,” he said. “It’s almost like you get in a car without a destination.
“I’ve only been in the water for four weeks, I put way too much expectation on myself. But my coach Mel [Marshall] asked me this morning if I wanted to come back out. And I was like: “I’m a fucking fighter.”
Peaty said his teammate James Guy had also helped to put his defeat into perspective. “He said to me: ‘Mate, don’t let swimming define you.’ I’ve still won every single championship. Done all the world records. That hasn’t been taken away from me. I’ve just had one bad day in the office.”
However Peaty admitted the spark had not been there for the past two years and would have to do some soul searching before the Paris 2024 Olympics. “It’s just as important in an athlete’s career to have these moments. You think, do I want to be here? Do I love the sport as much as I did? I don’t know. Those questions, I have to address.”
Elsewhere in the pool on Monday, Australia’s Kyle Chambers won the big clash of the day as he powered to gold in the men’s 100m freestyle in 47.51sec – beating England’s Tom Dean and Scotland’s Duncan Scott into silver and bronze respectively.
Afterwards Chambers, who has been at war with the Australian media over reports about his split from his fellow swimmer Emma McKeown, the five-times Olympic Games gold medallist, put his finger to his lips before splashing the pool hard.
Shortly afterwards McKeown was back in the pool, winning her 12th Commonwealth gold and 17th medal overall in the 50m butterfly. She is already the most successful athlete in Games history. And with the 100m freestyle final on Tuesday it is clear she is not finished yet.