Adam Peaty aims to rediscover his passion for swimming as he lamented a disrupted build-up to the Commonwealth Games after a shock defeat in the men’s 100 metres breaststroke final.
Hours after finishing fourth to end an eight-year unbeaten run in his favourite event, Peaty was back in the pool and reached the 50m semi-finals with the joint fastest time of 27.1 seconds in the heats.
Peaty was still digesting what occurred on Sunday night, however, admitting he may have burdened himself with expectation on his comeback from a broken foot he suffered in a training accident in May.
The 27-year-old also wondered whether his desire is as strong as it used to be, even if he remains committed to competing at the 2024 Olympics as he sent an ominous warning to his rivals.
“You back a lion into a corner, they’re going to bite. I’m backed into a corner now but I’m OK with that,” said the triple Olympic champion and the world record holder in the 50m and 100m breaststroke.
“It’s just as important in an athlete’s career to have these moments. You think do I want to be here? Do I love the sport as much as I did? I don’t know. Those questions, I have to address.
“I haven’t really had a winter block where I’ve reset. I haven’t even had chance to know where I’m going, it’s almost like you get in a car without a destination.
“I’ve only been in the water for four weeks, I put way too much expectation on myself and now I’m still debriefing and will be over the next three or four weeks.
I've still won every single championships, done all the world records, that hasn't been taken away from me, I've just had one bad day in the office
“Maybe it’s God’s will to get to this point to have this real low because it is a real low. Obviously it was a devastating night for me.”
Peaty admitted he had just a couple of hours’ sleep as he struggled to unwind after finishing behind English compatriot James Wilby and Australian pair Zac Stubblety-Cook and Sam Williamson in Birmingham.
But while he now seems set to skip the relay events, he had no intention of pulling out of the 50m breaststroke, the only major gold medal missing from his collection after finishing second in 2018.
“I didn’t really bother warming up, I had two hours’ sleep,” said Peaty. “(Coach) Mel (Marshall) was like ‘do you want to do it?’ I was like ‘I’m a f*****g fire. I’m going to turn up, do the race and go through the rounds’.
“I turned up with an hour to go, put my suit on and sprinted. I found that love again, but maybe because I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m not looking for gold, I’m just going to look for my best possible swim.”
Peaty feels he has a rough blueprint to get back to the top but took some comfort from words of advice James Guy, who told his English team-mate ‘don’t let the swimming define you’ on Sunday night.
“That was a bit of a switch,” added Peaty. “As sportspeople we always think our results define us and the whole world sees us as these results.
“But I’ve still won every single championships, done all the world records, that hasn’t been taken away from me, I’ve just had one bad day in the office.
“I almost know what I need to do. I’m carrying way too much body weight, way too much muscle for the 100m, so I need to lose four kilograms. That’s just straight off my mind.
“But really it comes down to training, you can’t hide from the training and this year I just haven’t had enough of it.”
Peaty is in action later on Monday in the 50m semi-finals, as is Wilby, who recorded a time of 27.74secs in the heats.