Four months after threatening to fall out of love with his sport Adam Peaty returned to his imperious best by smashing his own 100m breaststroke world record at the European Championships in Glasgow.
Peaty stopped the clock at 57 seconds dead – a time later readjusted to 57.10 due to a problem with the timing mechanism – as he obliterated both his rivals and his own previous best mark of 57.13 secs that he set en route to winning Olympic gold at Rio 2016.
It marked a remarkable return to form for the 23-year-old, who had cut a dejected figure at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where he won in an uncharacteristically slow 58.84 secs as well as being beaten over his less-favoured shorter distance.
“I don’t just want to win – I want to dominate,” said a delighted Peaty. “That’s not an arrogant side, it’s just the competitive side in me.
“I wasn’t going out there to break the world record, but when I got to 50m I thought, ‘this is so easy’. Then I came back and all the passion and emotion of the letdown of the Commonwealths really fuelled that.
“After the heats I knew I was in good shape. After the semi I was back in the 58s, but it just shows what you can do if you have a positive attitude.”
Peaty’s superiority was such that his Great Britain team-mate James Wilby, from York, who took silver, finished over one and a half seconds behind him in 58.54.
While the likes of Wilby still dream of cracking the 58-second barrier, Peaty – still the only man to have done so – now stands on the brink of achieving his long-held and personal ‘Project 56’ campaign.
“It gives me another level of motivation,” said Peaty of narrowly failing to beat 57 seconds some two years ahead of schedule. “If I’d done it everybody would have started to talk about ‘Project 55’.
“It’s a great place to be in, to break the world record by a marginal gain and two years out (from Tokyo 2020) it leaves me and Great Britain in a very good place.”
Wilby goes for another podium in the 200m breaststroke final.
“The silver medal has happened, it was great and it’s helped push me on, but at the end of the day there are more races and medals to be won,” he said.
“I’m quietly confident, I’m pretty happy with how it’s been going.”
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