Adam Peaty is arguably Britain’s finest modern Olympian. No other member of Team GB dominates their sport in quite the same way as the 26-year-old, who staggeringly holds the top 20 times in history for the men’s 100m breaststroke. But how does he stay motivated when he is so far clear of his rivals?
“I think you have always got to push new boundaries,” he tells The Sportsman. “I wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't continue to motivate myself and push new boundaries. But I think it is all about balance. After the Olympics, I will party and will enjoy the fruits of my labour.
“Even then it is really about the commitment to what I do every single day and to push myself as hard as I can. I've got to reiterate, I am enjoying the sport now more than ever and it has been a very hard and long battle to get my head around, but what matters is that we are here now and only a few weeks away from the Olympics.”
Peaty won gold at Rio 2016, but has spoken openly about the bout of depression he suffered following the Games, as his lowest point came two years later, after his first loss in four years. Reading Tyson Fury’s book ‘Behind the Mask’ allowed him to see comparisons between himself and the heavyweight champion.
“Some days it is so hard,” he accepts. “I remember reading the part where he [Fury] used to get up and cry for no reason. I want to reiterate, just because we are sportspeople doesn't mean we experience it any differently. We are human and everyone is human, we all share 99.99 percent of DNA - everyone on this planet, so our brains are going to be wired somewhat similar.
“But I think being a sportsperson makes it a little bit harder to deal with because of the constant training and constant dieting and the constant pushing. That is what makes it hard. How you deal with that and balance, that is more important than ever especially during a lockdown because most of the things that balanced me such as going out to eat, going out to shop, going out for a nice day out with the family, I didn't have those. They were taken away, so everything that I was doing was work, work, work without any balance and that is when danger signs start to creep in.”
One thing that has helped Peaty stay balanced is the birth of his first child, born in September 2020. Along with girlfriend Eiri Munro, his son has already given him moments that he will never forget.
“It has its down times of course, it is hard, but that makes the journey more worthwhile,” the world record holder admits. “Everyone would have kids if it wasn't as hard as it is. But, I think also with the hard times there are so many beautiful moments - watch him crawl, watch him grow, watch him say ‘dada’, stuff like that which is stuff you will never ever experience without a kid. It gives you so much motivation to keep pushing definitely.
“I can't wait for him to come and watch in the stands. I'm very excited about that. For him, I think obviously I want to give as much time as I can and I know I can't right now so everything I do is for him. This is the legacy that I want to create. I want to inspire him to show we think there is a limit, we think that the limit is up here for the body, but it is not actually that and you can continue to push, continue to grow, continue to learn. I'm still learning every single day and I think that is the difference between someone who wants to be good and someone who wants to be great.”
So, with Peaty on course to stand on top of the podium in Tokyo this month, would he like to see his son follow in his footsteps?
“I'd always say no because of the amount of pressure and I know how hard it is. I knew that would be good for him to push himself, but I know he is not going to be as fast,” he laughs, half-jokingly.
“If he is reading this in 15 years time, that will push him to be better than me. But I just want to do something, I want him to do whatever he wants. If he wants to be a dancer, a rugby player, footballer, golf, anything - I want him to have a passion and enjoy and inspire other people through what he does and show them that there is so much hate in the world and so much negativity in the world that you can create a chain with some positivity and some good laughs.”
We are many years away from potentially seeing Peaty’s successor in the form of his own son, but with the likes of Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Roger Federer proving that age is just a number, we could be seeing the 26-year-old dominate in the pool for a fair while longer.
“I've always had a saying that as soon as I stop having fun with it, I'll be done with it - I learnt that from Drake. That is so true. I don't think you can do anything without fun and the charisma that it gives you and the personality and the growth and all the things that come with sport and your career.
“In terms of getting older and having more kids as I get older, I just think that makes it even more worthwhile. Watching your kids watch you while you race, it is a very niche job to have I guess... That is dad strength isn't it!” he laughs as he points to the biceps that should carry him to gold in Tokyo later this month.
Castore athlete Adam Peaty embodies the Better Never Stops attitude. To see the full premium sportswear collection visit castore.com