English swimming goliath Adam Peaty has apologised, over an “arrogant” interview that followed his incredible collapse at the Commonwealth Games on Monday.
Peaty’s defeat in the event he has owned for 10 years left Aussie legend Ian Thorpe staggered. It was a result almost nobody saw coming.
The world record holder had been undefeated in the 100m breaststroke at major meets since 2014. He had qualified fastest for the final and led the event with 25m to go. However, English teammate James Wilby pushed ahead of him to take the gold.
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The magnitude of the boilover was written all over Wilby’s stunned face as he looked up to the big screen to see that he had won. With Aussies Zac Stubblety-Cook and Sam Williamson exploding at the death, Peaty suddenly went from the gold medal position to missing out on the podium completely.
It has been an explosive fall-out to the result with the 27-year-old declaring he won’t be coming back to the Commonwealth Games in four years’ time. It followed a social media backlash over comments that have been branded “arrogant” by fans.
Peaty spoke to the BBC on the pool deck after finishing outside the medals and said losing in the Commonwealth Games meant little to him after already scooping up three Olympic gold medals.
“It doesn’t feel amazing, but it doesn’t feel bad either,” Peaty said.
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“It’ll probably be my last attempt tomorrow, but I’m not bothered about it. The Commonwealths to me, in the grand scheme of things… it’s about two years time (the Olympics).
“That’s no disrespect. I’m still four weeks into my program, I can’t put that expectation on myself.”
Retired English swimmer Mark Foster responded to Peaty’s comments, saying: “I think he’s trying to say it doesn’t matter, but it does matter.
“It’s the Commonwealth Games, it’s a multi-sport event and I think when he was growing up, the Commonwealth Games would have been a big deal.
“But the fact that he’s won lots of Worlds and Olympic Games, maybe he’s trying to play it down to himself that it doesn’t matter.”
The Birmingham Mail reported fans on social media said Peaty’s comments were “arrogant” and “disrespectful”.
“Adam peaty is disrespectful to every other athlete at the Commonwealth Games Acting like he doesn’t care While all the other athletes are trying they best to win medals,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another posted: “Adam Peaty, I think you need to take a deep breath, have a word with yourself and take a look at the para swimmers. Used to really respect you and what you were trying to achieve but feel let down by tonight’s comments.”
World record-holder Peaty qualified second-fastest for the 50m breaststroke final, scheduled for Wednesday morning, behind Australia’s Sam Williamson.
After moving through to the final, Peaty appeared to apologize for his comments.
He wrote on Twitter: “Thankful for all the supportful messages I’m getting at the moment. It has been an incredibly hard time the past few months, but mostly the last few days.
“Sometimes in the heat of the moment my emotions better me and I can’t speak with a clear mind.
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“These championships mean a lot to me being a home games but I have to think bigger picture to keep my spirits high. It really, really isn’t easy. My last Commonwealth Games race will be tomorrow.”
Peaty said he simply hasn’t had the time to return to his best shape as a result of a lengthy rehabilitation from several foot injuries. He said he didn’t have the aerobic fitness to challenge for the 100m breaststroke and even said he needs to lose 4kg before competing at the Olympics in Paris in 2024.
He said he has a long way to go before Paris.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Peaty said.
“I don’t see the point in doing something I wouldn’t do that well at, at the moment. We’ll see.
“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, but I’ll be looking to find that over the next months and into the next two years.”