By Neil Leverett
- Adam Peaty successfully defends double World breaststroke titles in Budapest
- Briton now has sixteen major Gold medals to his name
- 22 year-old considering adding 200 metres to his program from next year
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – Adam Peaty’s continuing rise in the Swimming pool continues to dumbfound many, but the Briton is only just getting started.
Brit rules the pool
Even before a single wave had been made in the purpose-built Championship pool of the Duna Arena in Budapest, 99% of pundits and the general aquatic fraternity had already awarded Adam Peaty the Gold in both the 50 metre and 100 metres breaststroke events.
Seeing the 22-year old Uttoxeter native defend his double World crown then, was hardly a revelation. Peaty has now claimed ‘the double’ in major meets individually during the last two years; four world Gold medals, one Olympic.
The Briton has left all in his wake. Former record holder and champion in his own right, South African Cameron van der Burgh has become an almost ran. US swimmer Kevin Cordes‘ speed over 25 metres is now a mere consolation.
All this and one of the shining beacons of British sport, still has to work on his start at the gun. In many a race last week, Peaty could be found in last position as the field emerged from their dives, before surging through the pack.
Peaty’s penchant of not just destroying world-class fields, but smashing times set – often his own standard – see him hold the five fastest times swam over 50 metres alone.
They are just the bullet points of his ever-burgeoning individual career. Relay glory has also come. In total, the Briton has now claimed an astonishing sixteen gold medals to his name in just three years.
Even before the Games of the XXXII Olympiad begin in Tokyo, Japan in three years time, Gwanju hosts the 2019 World Championships in South Korea the summer before. By then, Peaty could be a triple-double champion.
Spitz expresses doubts
Already the temptation is there however, to look ahead to the events in the Far East. Peaty has now even suggested he could even extend his program to the 200 metres from next year.
That would mean deposing reigning Olympic champion Ippei Watanabe and winner in Budapest, Anton Chupkov of Russia, to name but two competitors.
Former legend Mark Spitz won seven Golds at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, West Germany, but the American has his doubts whether Peaty could sustain a breaststroke triple-header. Spitz suggested to BBC Sport:
“There’s a cost in doing that. A lot of times a 100m breaststroker doesn’t do well at the 200m, it can be due to training and desire, but also the order of the races at event.
“He has the speed, so all he needs is the conditioning to go two more laps, so the question is on Peaty – do you want to make the commitment?”
“If he’s in condition for the 200m breaststroke then he’s not going to be as good at the shorter distances.”
Behind it all still remains an honest, unassuming and humble man. Mel Marshall’s guidance has been the perfect ingredient to hone Peaty’s rapidly growing skill set, but the Briton keeps his feet firmly on the ground.
That will be the key to even greater accolades. Peaty never takes a single race for granted, as any elite sportsman or woman should do, but with him one could really believe he means it.
From that same nine year-old boy from Dove Valley Swimming Club in Staffordshire, the Brit portrays the same grounded individual he always was.
Whether Peaty opts to add another string to his bow with the challenge of the 200 metres breaststroke remains uncertain, however the Briton is clearly not the type to refuse a challenge.
With or without a third race to his program, if Peaty stays fit, healthy and above all hungry, the boy who was once afraid of water as young boy, could soon become the master of it.
The 6th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships take place in Indianapolis, USA between August 23-28.
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