GWANGJU, South Korea (AFP) – Britain’s Olympic swimming champion Adam Peaty will channel his inner Mike Tyson as he looks to deliver a knockout blow to his world title rivals next week.
The double world record holder has not been beaten for five years over 100 metres breaststroke in major competition – a streak rarely seen in sport and one that invites comparison to the great American hurdler Ed Moses.
Moses went unbeaten for 10 years between 1977 and 1987 but Peaty chose a boxing analogy to describe his mindset going into the world championships, which begin Sunday in Gwangju, South Korea.
“The closer I get to a world championships, the closer I get to an Olympics, that’s where my strength really comes mentally,” added the 24-year-old, who is chasing a hat-trick of world doubles in the 50m and 100m.
“You almost have to turn it off. I like going into those meets mentally fresh because by the time I get to the end of it I literally sleep for about a week.”
One of swimming’s most recognisable athletes with his tattoos and rippling physique, Peaty was stung by a first defeat in four years at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where he was pipped by South African Cameron van der Burgh in the 50m final.
“I’m not immune to losing,” insisted Peaty. “But the greatest athletes lose and come back even stronger.”
Peaty already has one eye on next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“If I don’t get the best out of myself it will just annoy me and make me work 10 times harder,” he promised.
“Even if I do lose, that’s going to motivate me for the Olympic year.”
First up, Peaty takes aim at his 100m world record of 57.10 seconds on Monday.
“That’s my main motivation now – how do I get below that magic 57,” said the Briton, who has been flirting with that mark in training.
“I know it’s very possible but I need to be in the right frame of mind.”
While Brazil’s Felipe Lima and Joao Gomes could push Peaty in the 50m, the 100m will be Peaty’s to lose.
“It’s a world championships so it’s not going to be a walk in the park,” he said.
“But if I don’t feel threatened I can’t get the best version of myself.”
Mirroring Tyson’s warrior mentality, Peaty noted, “When you go into a world champs it can get very tense, it can get very hostile.
“I’ve been undefeated in the last five years in the 100m and that’s kind of unheard of in a sport as volatile as swimming,” he added.
“To stay number one over that period of time takes a toll on you mentally, it takes a toll on you physically.
“But I don’t really get caught up with the pressure. I’ve got nothing to prove to anybody.”