Adam Peaty has revealed his excitement for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as he aims to “complete the collection” with 50 metres breaststroke gold – but stressed he is keen not to put too much pressure on himself in a busy 2022.
As well as being a 100 metres breaststroke gold medallist at Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth level, Peaty is also the reigning world and European 50m champion.
But a Commonwealth triumph in the 50m race – which is not an Olympic event – has so far eluded him – he has had to settle for silver behind South Africa’s now-retired Cameron Van Der Burgh at both Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018.
The main ticket ballot for the Birmingham Games, set to take place from July 28 to August 8 next year, opened on Wednesday, and the Uttoxeter-born 26-year-old, who trains in Loughborough, told the PA news agency: “I think it’s going to be incredible, not only because we get a home Games – also, for me, it’s a very local Games.
“I live literally 40 minutes away from Birmingham. I’m actually contemplating staying at home and just travelling in to race, which is a very different way of approaching a big Games.
“I think it is a huge opportunity for Birmingham to really show what it’s about, show what the people can give. And I like a home crowd, I like performing.”
Peaty, the world-record holder over both 50m and 100m, added: “It’s the only race I haven’t won to be fair, the 50m at the Commonwealth Games. That’s one I’m looking forward to completing the collection with, and yeah, let’s see what we’ve got. Why not? I always dream big, I always go out there to attack.
“I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself, (just) do what I do. I know I’m the fastest man on the planet, so I’ve just got to ride that wave and see what happens. We’ve got a long way to go before then.
“There’s been a lot of competitions in the past where I’ve put too much pressure on myself, lost my kind of reason why I was doing it. So I just want to enjoy it, this journey, especially this year, and hopefully come away with a few wins.”
Either side of the Birmingham showpiece, the World Championships in Japan are scheduled for May and the European Championships in Rome for August.
Peaty said: “The schedule gets very busy, and then if you have commercial stuff, business stuff, family life (his son George was born last year), how do you fit all that in? But I’m paid to do this job, to do it better than anyone else and, for me, I know I can deal with that kind of thing.
“Can anyone else? I don’t know, I can’t really speak for them. But that’s where the enjoyment has to come in – you have to enjoy what you do, and once January comes around that is when I will be shifting that mindset into making sure I’m making the most of each one.
“That is why I am not racing now, because there is so much ahead of us, and I think a lot of athletes may get caught out, going, ‘Am I going to be a bit fatigued?’ For me, I could already foresee that. I didn’t want to compete in the (ongoing) ISL (International Swimming League) or the World Championship short course (in December), because I want to peak long-course, at the meets where I feel like I can get the best out of me.”
Peaty said he was not looking to point the finger of blame regarding the schedule next year, adding: “I’m used to doing a lot of races. Communication could probably be better between everyone I guess, but I think that’s the way it is. Being an athlete is about being adaptable and turning up to the races where it matters and giving our best performance when it matters.”
After claiming two Olympic golds in Tokyo this summer to take his overall haul to three, Peaty, who says he would “like to be in the water end of November in terms of just ticking over”, is currently on what he says is the biggest break he has taken.
He spoke at the end of the Olympics about the importance of mental health, and says he is in a good place on that front, confident he will be sufficiently refreshed for 2022.
Peaty said: “I realised that as an athlete…we’re always in this kind of constant state of, ‘I’ve got to be ready’. It’s not a healthy state to be in. I don’t really have that much time off and I’ve realised now that I need time off to reset my brain, be hungry for the sport again.
“I just want to go into this next season and have my most favourite season I’ve ever produced, in terms of fun, in terms of taking risks. I’ve done a lot of metres over my life, it’s taken a lot out of me. But that’s why we take breaks, why we take a break now – so we don’t get to that point of exhaustion where we hate the sport that we actually love.”
Part of Peaty’s break is preparing for the forthcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing, which starts later this month, and he said: “I’m going to have a lot of fun hopefully. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I perform in the water, but I’m comfortable there – I’m not very comfortable on land!”
:: The main ticket ballot for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is now open. Apply for tickets now at Birmingham2022.com. The ballot closes at 8pm on September 30.