Adam Peaty's coach, Mel Marshall, has admitted that the next 48 hours might provide the last chance to beat his world record for the sixth time and set the sort of landmark time that could last for generations.
After becoming the first swimmer under 58 and then 57 seconds for the 100m breaststroke, Peaty began his quest to become Britain's first back-to-back Olympic aquatic champion on Saturday lunchtime ahead of a scheduled semi-final and then final in the early hours of Sunday and Monday mornings.
At 26, there is an acceptance inside the Peaty camp that this may be the absolute physical peak of his career and thought has already been given to the possibility of gradually managing his athletic decline – while still winning gold medals – through to Paris in 2024 and potentially Los Angeles in 2028.
"He's aware, because of where he is in his life, that this may be the last one – not Olympics – but maybe the last chance to go quicker one more time," said Marshall. "Now it is about every single detail and making sure all these details are in line to get another improvement. He can go faster. "The challenge for us is, can we get all the 20 things which are needed to be faster together at one point on one day?
"That is what we are trying to achieve. This would be a perfect end to the second chapter. He ended that first chapter in Rio. That's what we are trying to do."
What time is the men’s 100m breaststroke swimming final?
Saturday July 24
Men’s 100m breaststroke heats (x6): 20:55-21:10 ( 12:55-13:15 BST – Peaty won his heat)
Sunday July 25
Men’s 100m breaststroke semi-finals: 11:33-11:39 ( 03:33-03:39 BST – Peaty was fastest qualifier)
Monday July 26
Men’s 100m breaststroke final: 11:12 ( 03:12 BST)
Can Peaty set another world record?
Peaty has set 13 world records across different events, peaking with his 56.88 sec swim over 100m in 2019, but there is a belief that dipping inside 56.5sec remains possible. Only one other swimmer has ever gone inside 58 seconds. "I think a world record is obviously at this stage, very, very hard but never impossible." he said.
"I have that history of performing when it matters, and going into these Games I am the most liberated I have been. Let us hope that a lightning strike doesn't hit me. Anything can happen in sport. We all know that. And sometimes the greats do fall. I believe that this Olympics is not my time yet and I think it’s going to be a good one."
Of the future, Peaty believes that he will know when he has reached his peak and that will see an adjustment in his approach. Peaty is renowned for his ferocious work ether but, according to Marshall, management of his recovery will become increasingly critical.
"We'll have to switch the training because we are no longer looking to go faster but we are looking to win," he said. "I think my life will change a lot in the next three years. I'll be nearing 29 in Paris [Olympics in 2024]. You see some go to 34 or 35 – but I won’t be going on if I can't win. If I see a path to win, that's me. If it's silver, no.
"Whether someone will get 56 seconds again, who knows. But I want to make sure I push the boundaries of what is possible."
What other events is Peaty competing in?
To say that he is the favourite in the men’s 100m breaststroke for the Tokyo Olympics would be putting it mildly. He will also compete in the men’s 4x100m medley relay, which won silver in Rio, and will likely appear in the mixed medley relay, a new event for Tokyo.
Adam Peaty’s ‘Olympic Nan’ will be ‘screaming her head off’ from Uttoxeter
By Tom Morgan
At 79 and unable to walk without a stick, Mavis Williams is not your average neighbourhood hellraiser. However, once again the retired biscuit factory worker is planning an early hours cacophony of noise when grandson Adam Peaty begins his history-making defence of Olympic swimming gold.
“I shall be screaming me head off here,” Mrs Williams tells the Telegraph Spo rt, having already put up the bunting and flags outside her bungalow to wish him luck as heats begin in Tokyo on Saturday.
For her neighbours, the early hours wake-up calls will be familiar. While Peaty’s parents and partner were able to join him in Rio in 2016, Mrs Williams decided she was too frail to travel so instead staged her own parties-for-one at home.
This time no family members will be in Tokyo with Team GB due to Covid. Despite the option of joining her daughter Caroline to watch this time, Mrs Williams appears to be erring with the option of staying at home in Uttoxeter so she can cause her normal racket.
“I’ll be quite happy because I can make more noise,” she added. “My neighbours know. They don’t mind. I don’t bother. I just let go and that’s it. I’ve got to do it some time as I won’t be here forevermore.”
Mrs Williams has herself enjoyed a small dose of fame thanks to her grandson’s exploits in the pool. In 2016, her avid support from home went viral as she set up a Twitter account and called herself #OlympicNan. She is tweeting less these days but says she has a few in mind if Peaty wins again.
At the moment, messages of good luck are being exchanged by text message rather than in public. “I did send him a nice text, a private one wishing him good luck,” she added. “He sent me one straight back saying ‘I wish you were in the stands, nan’. I said ‘so do I, I’d give anything to go’. He’s brought me a lot of enjoyment, and I’m so proud of him.”
— Mavis (@Mavise42Mavis) July 22, 2021
In Rio, Peaty won Team GB’s first Olympic male swimming gold medal for 24 years. Never before has a British swimmer defended the title.
He is now the runaway favourite in the men’s 100m breaststroke in Tokyo – but his grandmother says she has “no idea” where he got his talent from.
“It’s certainly not from me – I only started swimming when I was 54,” she said. “I could only do the breaststroke even then. However, his grandfather would have been so proud of Adam. Actually, he could swim. He swam in the sea – they came from Anglesey. But really, I don’t know where his talent comes from. It could be mixed genes going back years. He is amazing.”
Mrs Williams – who lost her husband when he was 43 to cancer – says Peaty’s success has been a new lease of life for her. She fell recently and broke a collarbone and “has no kneecaps either” but she “excited like a schoolgirl” about Saturday.
“I’m excited to see it on Saturday,” she added. “Nervous as well, I suppose, but I’ve got every faith in him. I know he will always give everything he’s got. I’ve had a fantastic time since Adam. It’s been marvellous really.”
Since his success in Rio, Mrs Williams caused a storm online over a picture of her with a lion tattoo on her arm. She confirmed it was a fake inking which quickly washed off in the bath. If Peaty is successful again, with a gold medal around his neck on Monday, she is planning on another wind-up for her grandson.
“I’ve got a photograph going back to when I was on holiday with my auntie years ago,” she explained. “I’m sitting at the table, laughing my head off because it was me sat down in front of lots of drinks. They weren’t all mine, but they took a photo as though they were. So, hopefully, hopefully, if Adam does well, I’ll send it to him and say this is what I’m doing now as a joke.”
In September 2020, Peaty became a father to George with partner Eiri Munro. “I know one thing that will spur him on and that’s George,” her grandmother added. “I do hope and pray that he can pull it off. If he does, I shall be screaming me head off here.”
Where will Peaty be competing?
The swimming competition will be held at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre , which will also host the artistic swimming and diving throughout the Games.
Where can I watch it?
You can watch all the big moments, of which Peaty will undoubtedly be one, live on BBC, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and the BBC Sport website and app. Eurosport, however, are the main rights holders for Europe, and will be streaming live coverage , albeit you will need to pay a subscription.
Telegraph Sport will also be live blogging the final, so you can bookmark this page and come back to it when the action begins.
Who are Peaty’s main rivals?
To illustrate how far ahead of the rest of the field Peaty is, Dutchman Arno Kamminga is the only other swimmer to breach 58 seconds after clocking 57.9s in April. He also finished second to Peaty a month later at the European Championships with James Wilby, Peaty’s team-mate in Tokyo, finishing third.
At the last global competition, the world championships in 2019, Wilby also finished second to Peaty with China’s Yan Zibei third. Both finished over a second slower than Peaty.
Who are Team GB’s other swimming medal hopefuls?
Great Britain are quietly being tipped to have a good Games in the water, both in the relays and individually. And with the 12-month delay to these Games caused by Covid-19, there is a feeling that the extra year will have also benefited a number of British swimmers , now podium contenders when they might not have been in 2020.
For example, Kathleen Dawson was on no one's radar as a potential Olympic medalist in the 100m backstroke previously but the 23-year-old burst onto the scene with a win in the event at Britain's Olympic Trials and then a barrage of impressive swims at the European Championships. Abbie Wood finished second in the 200m breaststroke at the British trials behind Molly Renshaw and both could be in the mix, while freestyle sprinter Freya Anderson has serious potential for her Olympics debut.
Then there are those that have been there and done it before, the likes of Duncan Scott, winner of double relay silver in Rio and currently ranked number one in the world for 200m freestyle this year, who is set for a busy schedule. Ben Proud, world and Commonwealth gold medallist in the (non Olympic) 50m butterfly event and European and Commonwealth champion in the 50m freestyle also makes his second Olympic appearance.
In marathon swimming, Alice Dearing will be the first black female swimmer to represent Britain at an Olympics after she finished fourth in the qualification event.
How have Team GB done in the past in the pool?
In Rio, they finished with six medals, one gold and five silver but with a number of fourth place finishes in there too. In total, Britain have won 74 medals in Olympic swimming history, of which 16 have been gold, 28 silver and 30 bronze., which places them seventh in the all-time list, one that is unsurprisingly topped by the USA.
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