World record holder Adam Peaty talks about making his newborn son proud, his love of Birmingham, and overcoming a childhood aversion to water…
It may be a surprise to learn that Adam Peaty – the world’s fastest breaststroke swimmer – wasn’t always a fan of the water:
“I used to hate having a bath and a shower. I used to go down to the park with my brothers and sisters and get all muddy. My Dad used to chuck us all in the shower together as kids, so there wasn’t really much to like! I always found it difficult around the perception of water and going underwater, until I made it fun, when I started to race.”
It didn’t take Peaty long to conquer his aversion to water, of course. Bursting onto the international scene aged 19 at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, he upset South African world record holder and Olympic champion Cameron Van De Burgh to win the first of his three Commonwealth Games titles.
With his own Olympic and World titles, multiple world records and sporting immortality now secured, Adam Peaty will have nothing to prove when he steps onto the blocks at the new Sandwell Aquatics Centre to compete for a fourth Commonwealth Games title at Birmingham 2022.
Peaty does have a new motivation though; his son George-Anderson, born in September, who’ll be old enough to cheer him on from the stands in two years:
“Obviously he’s a baby now and can’t really understand much apart from drinking milk, but when he does get to that age where he looks up to me and wants to see me do well, that will be a huge motivation for me. He already is in my training, but competing as well it’s going to have a huge impact on how I’m going to feel before I get up on those blocks.”
Peaty adapted to the challenges of lockdown by installing a training pool in his back garden, and says it’s been a lifeline during a troubling time:
“It’s been very hard finding motivation when competitions keep getting cancelled and moved. Having access to a pool in lockdown has been a lifesaver, and a tool to help my training so much more. Without that I think I would have changed sports; I’d have been a cyclist or a boxer by now!”
Thousands will be cheering Peaty and his teammates on at the new Sandwell Aquatics Centre during Birmingham 2022, and he says having a state-of-the-art aquatics facility in the West Midlands will inspire a new generation of swimmers:
“People shouldn’t underestimate how much a facility investment can help the local area, but it’s also a national investment. Competitions after the Games will be coming [to Sandwell] from left right and centre. Never underestimate how much that brings, especially to local teams, local athletes and how much it inspires them. Hopefully we can secure that next generation of athletes.”
And with Adam Peaty’s hometown of Uttoxeter in Staffordshire less than 40 miles from Birmingham, he knows the city is going to put on a fantastic Commonwealth Games in 2022:
“I think we’ve got to treat these events not just as a celebration of sport but of everyone coming together. It’s going to be so special to have it in the Midlands, the heart of the country. I love Birmingham; I love the shopping, the nightlife, the food, the people, so if you combine all that, and put a Games there, I think the legacy will take care of itself.”