Olympic champion swimmer Adam Peaty says he is “heartbroken” after finishing outside the medal positions in the Commonwealth Games 100m breaststroke final.
But with Peaty’s shock defeat came success for England, as fellow countryman James Wilby took the gold.
Peaty is the reigning Olympic champion and world record holder in his favored event, where he had not lost in eight years and never before in a major final.
A broken foot had ruled him out of the World Championships in Budapest earlier in the summer, but he unsurprisingly held the halfway lead in the final in Birmingham.
However, he struggled for momentum and was reeled in by Wilby, who was first to touch the wall in 59.25 seconds at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre.
Zac Stubblety-Cook was second in 59.52secs and fellow Australian Sam Williamson third in 59.82s, 0.04 ahead of fourth-placed Peaty, the champion at Glasgow 2014 and on the Gold Coast in 2018 who was unable to put his finger on a time that was just under three seconds below his personal best of 56.88s.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Peaty, who hinted he will not be at next month’s European Championships.
“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.
“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 (before the 2024 Olympics in Paris).”
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Wilby has for so long been in Peaty’s shadow and admitted, after winning 200m silver earlier this week, that he contemplated his swimming future following last year’s Olympics, where he won a relay medal but finished outside the podium positions in the individual event.
Asked whether this was the best moment of his career, Wilby said: “It is certainly up there as a special moment that I’ll remember forever.
“It just adds up to me, enjoyment and having that fun back in the sport is everything. We’ve all seen faster times than that, but I’m loving it, and that’s got me to the top of the podium this time.
“Everything else doesn’t matter. I’m always going to have that medal, I’m always going to love looking at it and remembering the moments that brought it here.”
Learning to walk…and months later winning gold
Alice Tai was another English gold medalist on Sunday night, prevailing in the women’s 100m backstroke S8 final, just a few months after having her right leg amputated below the knee.
“It’s a bit surreal,” she said.
“I started and ended last season with surgery, pulled out of Tokyo, then had an amputation in January. I’ve been learning to walk this year and getting back in the pool was just a bit of fun as I missed swimming.”
Wales’ Lily Rice finished third.
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James Guy picked up bronze in the men’s 200m butterfly final, where Chad le Clos’ silver took him to 18 Commonwealth Games medals, equaling the overall record held by shooting pair Michael Gault and Phil Adams.
Wales’ Medi Harris was a bronze medalist in the women’s 100m backstroke, while the quartet of Freya Colbert, Tamryn van Selm, Abbie Wood and Freya Anderson also finished third in the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay final.