Adam Peaty roared at International Olympic Committee and FINA today for making the wrong call when they added more freestyle events to the Olympic swimming program for the Tokyo 2020 Games and beyond at the expense of stroke 50m dashes on backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.
The Olympic 100m breaststroke champion, speaking at the launch of the Adam Peaty Instinct Limited Edition kit collection from Arena in London, criticised blazers for failing to consult athletes before making their decisions.
Peaty, whose views were backed by Britain’s double distance Olympic gold medallist of 2008 Becky Adlington, told SwimVortex: “It’s hard to put this the right way but I don’t think another two long-distance events should be in the programme, I don’t think it’s the right call. And someone has to speak up because I don’t think they really asked the athletes what they want – I don’t think we have been asked what we want and there should have been at least some acknowledgment from FINA or the IOC of what we want and what the fans want.”
Peaty was delighted to see the mixed medley relay – two men and two women will race together in Olympic waters for the first time in history, in which he and Great Britain are world champions – make the Olympic cut.
However, when it came to the “gender equality” claim attached to adding a men’s 800m freestyle and a women’s 1500m freestyle to the 800m for women and 1500m for men that already exist, Peaty pointed out that men and women would still have had the same race program in the pool for the first time in history if the women’s 800m had sinply been scrapped in favour of the 1500m.
As things stand, in the wake of FINA making too much of the IOC, freestyle swimmers will have six events to aim at stretching from 50 to 1500m, while stroke specialists on backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and medley have two events apiece to target.
If the dominance of Katie Ledecky, of the USA, continues, then Tokyo 2020 may well see the Rio 2016 champion over 200, 400 and 800m freestyle become the first swimmer ever to win those and a 1500m at the same Games.
Peaty’s views were backed up by Britain’s double gold medallist of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Becky Adlington, when she told Liz Byrnes:
“I would personally have preferred to see the 50s come in instead of the extra 800m and 1500m. I don’t know why but I just feel like the 50s would have been real exciting and just from a selfish point of view I really want to see Adam get gold in the 50 breast and the 100 breast. It would have been amazing to see that. I don’t know if they will ever bring in the 50s but I am just looking at it selfishly because I want Adam to win the 50 breast.”
Peaty, who will defend the World titles over 50m and 100m breaststroke in Budapest next month, said of the IOC’s decisions: “I’ve got mixed emotions really. Obviously, the medley relay is really good because I get to swim it so that’s awesome because I get another event.
“But I think looking back as a kid watching the Olympics for me the sprints have always been the best part of it because you are like ‘agh, who’s going to win’ and you can win and lose by 0.01 and the further and further you go on the more someone can dominate even more. Its a little bit disappointing about the 50s but I am not going to cry over spilt milk.”
He added: “They talked about equality and stuff but I don’t know why they couldn’t have both gone up to 1500 and cut the 800 but we’ll see over time, I could be completely wrong, it could be a really exciting event. But I would have liked the 50s to have been in there, I think everyone would liked another few 50s.”
Peaty will get to race the dash next month in Budapest and is likely to remain the draw to watch over 100m breaststroke all the way to the blocks in Tokyo.
The Roar Of Instinct
Today at Trafalgar Square alongside the famous lions of London, Peaty launched his “Instinct” signature collection.
The Olympic Champion and World Record holder was more than happy to show off his Lion tattoo beneath the statuesque sculptures of the creatures whose spirit he likes to draw on when racing.
“Today has been a bit of fun ahead of the serious competition next month. After winning gold in Rio I got my Lion tattoo – it roars my values and also Great Britain’s – so I was more than happy take part in this photoshoot here with London’s Lions! My new ‘Instinct’ collection is great to compete in and I love the new-look and colours which will hopefully help me to more medals in Budapest.”
Arena was inspired by Peaty and two other Olympic champions in its stable of stars, Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström and Italy’s Greg Paltrinieri, to create “a very special capsule collection”. It says the Instint editions celebrate the swimmers’ “passion, their personalities and their unique drive as outstanding athletes through the symbolism of animals.”
A spokesman for Arena said:
“Speaking to Adam, Sarah and Greg, we discovered that they each identify very strongly with an animal, they recognise speciﬁc qualities of their chosen animal in themselves and in some ways are inspired by them.”
Peaty made his choice clear after Rio 2016 when he had a British Lion tatooed in his arm. “By discussing this powerful animal and its most striking qualities, we created a speciﬁc colour palette which perfectly reﬂects the vibe of both the Olympian and the ‘animal spirit’,” says arena