Adam Peaty admits he’s desperately trying to ‘control all of those emotions and perform when it matters’ as he tries to adapt to ‘really WEIRD’ atmosphere without fans in Tokyo, despite cruising through to the 100m breaststroke semi-final
Adam Peaty admitted the behind-closed-doors Tokyo Games ‘do not feel like an Olympics’ despite storming into the semi-finals of the 100 metres breaststroke with the eighth fastest time in history.
The defending Olympic champion and world record holder clocked 57.56 seconds in his heat here at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre to qualify quickest for Sunday’s next round.
It was just one hundredth slower than he swam in the heats at Rio 2016, which was then a world record – a time he has since lowered to 56.88sec.
A dominant performance saw Adam Peaty cruise into the 100metre breaststroke semi-final
The 26-year-old could become the first ever British swimmer ever to retain an Olympic title
Peaty, sporting a moustache, nodded in approval at the end of his race and looks in the shape to smash his world best again over the next two days.
However, the British superstar said he was still coming to terms with the fact there are no fans in the stands because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘It’s really weird with no crowd, really weird,’ said Peaty. ‘It doesn’t feel like an Olympics. It’s not the same, of course it’s not. Obviously when you go back to the Village, that’s when it does feel the same.
‘So it’s about controlling all of those emotions and performing when it matters. That’s the psychological things we need to adapt to. I had no idea how it was going to feel out there. I’m glad the cobwebs are out now.’
But he was still coming to terms with the fact there are no fans in the stands at the Games
Peaty’s nearest challenger Arno Kamminga (right) set a personal best of 57.80 in the heats
Asked if he thought he could break a world record, Peaty replied: ‘Yeah. I had a shaky first 50m there. I was a bit shaky off the start. For some reason I was gripping it a bit too hard.
‘But it’s pretty much the exact same time I did in Rio and I was always building on that. We will just see where we go from here. It’s just getting used to the speed, getting used to the legs again.
‘There are a lot of variables when it comes to an Olympics. You try and control as many as you can but there are some you can’t control. We were very delayed tonight. It’s very hot. But that’s how we adapt into the semis and hopefully into the final.’
Peaty’s nearest challenger is Dutchman Arno Kamminga, who set a personal best of 57.80sec – he and Peaty are the only two men in history to go under 58sec but the Team GB man is still the owner of the 15 best times in history.
James Wilby, the world silver medallist, went through to the semi-finals sixth fastest
Kamminga said: ‘I swam 57 once and really wanted to go for it again here, so what a way to start. Let’s see if I can chip away at some more. If you’re next to Peaty, you’re going to go out faster because he is faster – but the second 50 is my forte.’
Peaty’s British team-mate James Wilby, the world silver medallist, went through to the semi-finals sixth fastest with a time of 58.99sec.
Elsewhere on the first day of the swimming, Aimee Willmott qualified for the final of the 400m individual medley second fastest and could win a medal tomorrow.
Max Litchfield also reached the final of the respective men’s event, but world champion and Japanese home favourite Daiyo Seto crashed out.