Adam Peaty questions lottery funding future as he shares his next chapter

The Olympic Champion swimmer finished third in the Sports Personality of the Year public vote and used the moment to highlight many of the struggles he sees at the grassroots level.

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Emma Raducanu wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Adam Peaty’s next chapter in his life is ‘no longer about him’ as he questioned whether lottery funding was enough to keep sport accessible with families struggling more than ever.

The Olympic champion swimmer was speaking after taking third place in the BBC ’s Sports Personality of the Year presented from dock10 Studios in Salford.

Emma Raducanu was crowned the winner following her incredible US Open triumph, while Tom Daley came second after finally becoming an Olympic Champion in the summer.

Peaty also enjoyed a summer to remember as he became the first British swimmer to successfully defend an Olympic title at the Tokyo Games, claiming victory in the 100m breaststroke.

Adam Peaty poses with his third placed Sports Personality of the Year Award


David Davies/PA Wire)

He followed that up with a second gold medal at the Games in the mixed 100m medley relay, but after his third-place triumph at Sports Personality he emphasised how that chapter in his life had now closed and it was no longer about him.

“It’s all about legacy, it’s not about me anymore,” said the 26-year-old.

“I’ve closed that chapter of my Olympic journey, of winning, of defending that title and being the first British swimmer to do that.

“But now it’s about how I have an impact socially, how do I have an impact on people coming through the sport and trying to maintain the level of standard we have in British swimming as well.

“We don’t want this to go to waste now, we need to use this opportunity and make sure the young ones coming through are going to fight just as hard as we have.”

Peaty also used the moment to discuss issues surrounding funding at the grassroots level of swimming and sport, with the turmoil of the Covid pandemic having a particular impact on all walks of life.

“This is what I wanted to say up there [on stage] and I couldn’t find a way to get it in,” Peaty explained.

“The government are closing – or plan to close – 2,000 leisure centres by 2030 and we look at mental health, me included, and I swim every single day, and I use sport as a facility to help myself.

“It’s just the government now more than ever – especially with Covid constantly on the horizon, breathing down our necks – we need to make sure we are supporting that and hopefully providing facilities for everyone – not just the elite.”

Adam Peaty during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2021 at MediaCityUK


David Davies/PA Wire)

He added: “Money is money and you need money to excel in sport now more than ever.

“I know how hard it was going through that and trying to scrape together £1500 for four days in London to compete in London 2012 for the trials.

“You look back now and think: ‘how do people do that and find the money for that?’

“That’s one of my cases now, is lottery funding enough now? Is it the government that should be investing in this vehicle that they have the whole benefit from?

“It’s a complicated picture and not as simple as that. But it’s very hard and it’s getting harder, especially as inflation goes up and families are struggling more than ever.

“I’m just saying what I see and what I hear but I think we need to support that grassroots level a lot more.”

Peaty also had a special word for the 2021 Sports Personality of the Year Raducanu, who became the first woman to win the award since Zara Phillips in 2006.

“It was incredible,” he said of her achievement.

“That’s what I mean, everyone has done so much incredible stuff and it’s just a huge honour to be part of that tonight.

“It’s a little bit weird without the audience tonight, because there’s no noise!”

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