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Peaty heartbroken after shock defeat in Birmingham breaststroke final

Adam Peaty was unable to pinpoint what went wrong as the Olympic champion stunningly failed to finish in the top three of the 100m breaststroke final at the Commonwealth Games.

August 1, 2022
By David Charlesworth
1 August 2022

Adam Peaty admitted his shock defeat in the men’s 100-metre breaststroke final was “heartbreaking” after he finished outside the medal positions as James Wilby claimed Commonwealth Games gold.

Peaty is the reigning Olympic champion and world-record holder in his favoured event, where he hadn’t lost in eight years and never before in a major final in a career of unprecedented dominance.

There were minor concerns of rustiness after two months on the sidelines following a broken foot, which ruled him out of the World Championships, but he unsurprisingly held the halfway lead in Birmingham.

But he struggled for momentum and was reeled in by English compatriot Wilby, who was first to touch the wall in 59.25 seconds at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, just over an hour’s drive from where Peaty grew up in Uttoxeter.

Zac Stubblety-Cook was second in 59.52secs and fellow Australian Sam Williamson third in 59.82s, 0.04 ahead of fourth-placed Peaty, the champion at Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018, who was unable to put his finger on a time that was just under three seconds below his personal best of 56.88s.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Peaty, who hinted he will not be at next month’s European Championships.

“I don’t see the point in doing something I wouldn’t do that well at, at the moment. We’ll see.

Adam Peaty was unable to explain his defeat on Sunday night (Martin Rickett/PA)
Adam Peaty was unable to explain his defeat on Sunday night. (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I don’t know what went wrong. With 25m to go I had nothing in the tank. Maybe that’s overexposure on the foot. Sometimes you just have a bad race, I can’t pinpoint where I went wrong.

“There’s a lot of debriefing to do. I need a full reset now.

“It was a slow final, I can’t remember the last time I went that slow. It just didn’t go right. Of course I’m disappointed, but that’s what makes you go faster next time.

“I’ve kind of lost that spark, whether it’s with my foot (or not), but I’ll be looking to find that over the next months and into the next two years (before the 2024 Olympics in Paris).”

While Peaty missed out, England still capped a memorable day on the sporting front with top spot on the podium in the event as Wilby went one better than four years ago in Australia.

Wilby has for so long been in Peaty’s shadow and admitted after winning 200m silver earlier this week that he contemplated his swimming future following last year’s Olympics, where he won a relay medal but finished outside the podium positions in the individual event.

Asked whether this was the best moment of his career, Wilby said: “It is certainly up there as a special moment that I’ll remember forever.

“It just sums up to me enjoyment and having that fun back in the sport is everything. We’ve all seen faster times than that, but I’m loving it and that’s got me to the top of the podium this time.

“Everything else doesn’t matter. I’m always going to have that medal, I’m always going to love looking at it and remembering the moments that brought it here.”

Wilby is certain Peaty will bounce back, adding: “He’s the fastest breaststroker in the world and you can’t take that away from him.

James Wilby celebrates with his gold medal
James Wilby celebrates with his gold medal. (Tim Goode/PA)

“This moment I was getting that little edge on him and I’m sure he’ll be kicking me in the ass later in the swimming calendar.”

Alice Tai was another English gold medallist on Sunday night, prevailing in the women’s 100m backstroke S8 final just a few months after having her right leg amputated below the knee.

“It’s a bit surreal,” she said after coming home in a time of 1min 13.64s.

“I started and ended last season with surgery, pulled out of Tokyo, then had an amputation in January. I’ve been learning to walk this year and getting back in the pool was just a bit of fun as I missed swimming.”

Alice Tai won gold just months after having her leg amputated below the knee (Tim Goode/PA)
Alice Tai won gold just months after having her leg amputated below the knee. (Tim Goode/PA)

James Guy picked up bronze in the men’s 200m butterfly final, where Chad le Clos’ silver took him to 18 Commonwealth Games medals, equalling the overall record held by shooting pair Michael Gault and Phil Adams.

Wales’ Medi Harris was a bronze medallist in the women’s 100m backstroke while the quartet of Freya Colbert, Tamryn van Selm, Abbie Wood and Freya Anderson also finished third in the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay final.

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