British swimmer Adam Peaty has arrived back on British soil to a heroes welcome alongside all the other Team GB winners.
Footage showed the team members, who won a total of eight medals, embracing their friends and family as they left Heathrow Airport after arriving back from Tokyo 2020.
Peaty won two gold and a silver including retaining his men’s 100 metres breaststroke title, as Team GB eclipsed their previous best of seven medals at the 1908 Games.
He said he was overwhelmed when he saw his 10-month-old son George for the first time after arriving back in the UK.
‘I cried,’ he said. ‘For anyone that spends any time away from their kids for more than a week or more than a day, it’s obviously been emotional.
Footage showed the team members, who won a total of eight medals, embracing their friends and family as they left Heathrow Airport after arriving back from Tokyo 2020
‘But coming away with everything we’ve worked for as a family and as a team, it’s great to see that pay off and it’s a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life.’
Peaty added that he is also looking forward to being a ‘normal person for a second’ after announcing that he will be taking a few months away from the sport to relax and focus on his mental health.
‘I think it’s important to be normal, as an athlete. You need to stop continuously pushing and trying to break barriers and now it’s time to relax and challenge myself in a different way.’
Team GB swimmer Tom Dean, who won two gold medals, was welcomed to a huge street party as he arrived home in Maidenhead.
Footage showed the emotional athlete hugging his mother as he walked down the street where friends and family had come in their droves to show support.
Three young men were seen sitting on a wall holding smoke flares for his arrival.
Peaty, 26, spoke at a press conference to say how the key to the team’s success was the ‘brotherhood’ the athletes created.
He said: ‘I’ve been pushing for so long and broken a world record every single year since 2014 so it’s like an outrageous amount of effort not just from me but everyone behind me.
Pictured: Tom Dean embraces with a family member as he touches down at Heathrow
Adam Peaty has hit back at criticism of his decision to take a break from the swimming pool
‘It’s been a huge journey so to be part of this team is extremely special, I’m very proud to be able to say I’m on the team with them.
‘People are scared to race us now, it’s been so long since we’ve done so well.’
The swimmer, from Uttoxeter, referenced the moment where James Guy cried as another of his teammates won and said: ‘Obviously Jimmy started crying but that’s the amount of passion you want from your teammates.
‘If you don’t care then what’s the point of being on the team. If you don’t cry at their success then you don’t deserve to be on their team so I think that’s the most special thing about us.
‘We have a brotherhood. No other team has got that.’
Peaty won two gold and a silver including retaining his men’s 100 metres breaststroke title, as Team GB eclipsed their previous best of seven medals at the 1908 Games
One of the Team GB swimmers hugs a relative after landing at Heathrow Airport
He added that the team is already looking ahead to Paris 2024 and said: ‘Going into Paris we’re going to look at fine tuning, how can we beat America – they’ve never lost that race.
‘We’re a small nation going against America so we’re going to try and do our best.’
The swimming champion also noted that he thinks the team has more belief in itself.
He said: ‘You’ve got to be going out there and take your chin up and think I’m representing Great Britain and going for the win.
‘I think belief is the strongest thing out there.’
The 26-year-old announced he will skip the next month of action to allow him to reset
Peaty intends to skip the International Swimming League, starting next month, in order to reset, referencing the struggles of American gymnast Simone Biles and England cricketer Ben Stokes as reasons to strike a balance.
However, he has been saddened by some of the negative comments he has read in an article highlighting his decision, insisting the burden he and his team-mates have carried over the last few months is different to usual employment.
Peaty said on Twitter: ‘Reading some of the comments in response to this is why we have such a stigma around mental wellbeing in sport.
‘It isn’t a normal job. There is a huge amount of pressure. Money does not buy happiness.
Peaty took to Twitter to insist his job is not a normal one and the pressure he is under is unique
‘I’m taking a break because I’ve been going extremely hard for as long as I can remember. I’ve averaged two weeks off a year for the last seven years.
‘Unfortunately there are people out there who think they know you more than you know yourself.’
Peaty bagged his second successive men’s 100m breaststroke title, adding gold in the mixed 4x100m medley relay and silver in the men’s equivalent in the final race of the swimming programme in the Japanese capital on Sunday.
Asked afterwards how they would unwind, James Guy joked ‘a burger and some chips will do me’ but Peaty offered a more sobering reflection on how important time away from the pressures of the sport is.
He finished the Tokyo Games with three medals including another 100m breaststroke title
He said on Sunday: ‘It’s been hard for everyone, for every sport out there, it’s been very, very tiring.
‘But I think (what’s next is) celebrating and having what my coach Mel Marshall and me call a forced rest, where we’re not allowed to touch the water for a month now.
‘It’s going to be a war of attrition over the next three years, we have three major championships next season, and you’ll see people who are falling off, going all the way through ISL and World Cups, by the time they get to Paris.
‘You’re seeing it in all sports now. You’re seeing it with Simone Biles, you’re seeing it with Ben Stokes, mental health matters. It is about getting the balance right at that elite level. We love to celebrate, why shouldn’t we?’
Simone Biles has withdrawn from many of her events due to having mental health concerns