Olympic champion Adam Peaty is unsure whether he will return to top form for his defense of the 100m breaststroke at the Paris Games, but is at ease at the prospect of not being a favorite in an event he has dominated like no other.
On the comeback trail after a mental health break last year, the British world record holder topped Sunday’s qualification for the 100m final in Doha with a time of 58.60sec in his long-awaited return to the World Championships.
Pitti returned to the pool with modest results in a trio of World Cup events in October and is building step by step on the road to Paris where he will bid for an unprecedented third consecutive gold at the event.
While Monday’s final in Doha will give him an idea of his condition, he said only time would tell if his previous heights were achievable.
“Who knows? Unfortunately, success and especially sports is never a linear graph,” Peaty, whose world record of 56.88 has stood for more than four years, told Reuters.
“With this sport you never know what’s going to happen in an Olympic year. So I can’t just put myself out there or put myself in. Because we don’t know until we start the Olympics. “Will it ever come back to who? I was; Probably not. “I’m at peace with that — and that I’m not just an athlete, I’m a person who wants to do better in the sport but also continually get better in development.”
Peaty, who has been open about depression and drinking problems, was injured last year and missed last year’s world championships in Fukuoka while taking time out of competition. It was time well spent, he said, allowing him to reassess priorities and focus on life outside of sports.
In Pitti’s absence, China’s Qin Haiyang completed an unprecedented sweep of the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke titles at the world championships in Fukuoka last July to emerge as a major threat to Pitti’s hopes of a sweep. in Paris. Like many other top swimmers, Chin opted to skip Doha, meaning he will relinquish his titles.
Peaty was well beaten by Chin at the World Cup events in October, but the Brit said he was in a “very different place” at the time and still believed he could return to the top.
“Going to the Olympics now — again, (it’s) very, very different. I’m not going there (as) a favorite,” he said.
“I haven’t done anything in the last few years — that I’m happy with. “I’m finding a way back now. I have the experience, I have the knowledge and I have the talent, I believe, to do it.”
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