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Adam Peaty famously spent London 2012 drinking in a field while age-group rival Craig Benson was competing at the Olympics.
That was the wake-up call he needed and the turning point for the man who now sits as the greatest breaststroke swimmer of all time.
A decade on, Peaty will finally get the chance to compete at a home Games when he gets on the blocks at Birmingham 2022 and yet it almost did not happen.
A broken foot, suffered on a training camp in May, forced Peaty onto the side-lines, costing him a chance to defend his world titles and putting his Commonwealth participation in doubt.
The 27-year-old has made it back and will be gunning for gold in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, the former the only major title to elude the triple Olympic gold medallist.
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And while it has been a far from ideal preparation, Peaty is itching to get his opportunity to race in home waters, just an hour down the road from where he grew up in Uttoxeter.
“Birmingham is as close to home as it's ever going get for me. I can't wait. Crowds are what make me do what I do. When you take that away, it's weird. I don't like it,” he said, referring to winning gold in Tokyo in front of an empty arena.
“These last few months when I haven’t had the smoothest rides, I’ve had things taken away from me. I saw my World Championship titles being taken away without any control over that, and that's given me a new lease of life, a hunger that I was missing.
“The 50m Commonwealth title is the only one I haven't won, so I better not get DQd,” he joked.
“But part of the reason for my success over the years is that I treat every single race as one I haven't won. Nothing is ever given to you. With that mindset, I'm very focused on what I need to do.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Peaty is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in his home country.
With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Peaty hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.
The Commonwealth Games hold a special importance for Peaty. It was in Glasgow eight years ago, the closest he has come to a home Games to date, that he made his international breakthrough.
There he won the 100m breaststroke and he has not lost in the event since, smashing world records and becoming the first Briton ever to defend an Olympic swimming title.
Even then, Peaty was confident in his ability, and while the figure is slightly more imposing and the resume even more so, that steely determination has not changed.
A just as Glasgow was the springboard for even greater things, Peaty is planning to use Birmingham as a chance to extend his dominance of the sport even further.
“I was a lot more nervous in 2014 just because that was my first senior championships,” added Peaty, who is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing him to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science, and medical support.
“There were a lot of veterans on the team, but there was also a lot of expectation, I knew I was in a good place to potentially medal but I was going up against Cameron van der Burgh, who was the Olympic champion from 2012, and Christian Sprenger who was the silver-medallist and a world champion in his own right from the year before.
“So going into those Games, I was a complete underdog, but I knew I loved to race and if I was near anyone on the back end, I would have them. So, it was very different, I’m a little bit bigger now, a little heavier but also a lot more powerful, a lot stronger and my world record is 56.8 which I did in 2019.
“So now it’s about trying to nail down and get to those times, this is the start, two years out from the Olympics. I don’t think I could be in a better position in terms of where my head is at because now it’s about getting the train going.”
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