Adam Peaty became a British Olympic great today driven to success by the love of his 10-month-old son George and a working class family who encouraged a little boy who was terrified of water to become a British sporting phenomenon who has now conquered the world of swimming.
The star swimmer, 26, has said much of his success is due to his grounded parents Mark and Caroline, his girlfriend Eiri and his coach Mel, who will tell him off ‘if she thinks I’m being a bit of a k***head’ and shook him up when he missed out on London 2012 and ‘got hammered’ every Friday and Saturday night.
Today, as he became a sporting great by becoming the first British male swimmer to retain his men’s 100 metres breaststroke Olympic title, he said on live TV: ‘Thanks to the nation for being behind me for five years and my family and my beautiful boy. I knew it was going to take every bit of energy and I’m just so f****** relieved. Apologies for the swearing!’
But his success as an athlete is a world away from the water phobic boy who grew up in Uttoxeter. His mother Caroline said today: ‘He hated water. We only found out later on it was because his brothers told him that sharks would come up out of the plug hole. We forced him to swim and we have a strong belief that all children should swim because it’s a life-saving skill’.
He has always had the backing of his inimitable nan Mavis, who stayed up all night to watch the race and tweeted at 3am this morning: ‘You have done it Adam a double OLYMPIC CHAMPION so proud’, signing the message off with: ‘NAN’.
Adam and Eiri had their first child during lockdown, where Adam was forced to train in a giant bathtub in their garden when swimming pools were shuttered because of covid and the star swimmer has credited his little boy George-Anderson for driving him on. Eiri posted a moving photo of mother and son watching the medal ceremony this morning.
Eiri said today: ‘I can’t even find the words. I’ve never felt such pride before. Obviously George recognises the swimming now because we all get so excited when it comes on and then he sees his daddy, and definitely saw him when he was celebrating. If he was here now I’d give him a huge hug because that’s what I’m dying to do and I’d tell him we’re so proud of him and we love him so much and I didn’t expect anything less from him’.
At 6ft 3in, and 13st 5lb, Peaty is the perfect shape for an athlete, and has earned the nickname of Britain’s ‘Hunk in the Trunks’ as well as admirers of his tattoos, which includes a lion on his arm he says ‘represents not fearing who I am up against’.
Adam Peaty and Eirianedd Munro with baby George before he set off on his Olympic odyssey where he retained his breastroke title
Adam Peaty’s girlfriend Eiri and son George watch with pride as he collected his gold medal this morning in Japan
Eiri said today (pictured) that George recognised his daddy and got excited when he won
Adam Peaty qualified for the Commonwealth Games trials as a schoolboy and has a supportive family including his nan Mavis
His nan Mavis tweeted her congrats to her beloved grandson as he romped home at 3am
Adam Peaty’s lion tattoo reminds him he’s a ‘big cat’ of swimming and not in a herd of buffaloes
Adam Peaty’s meaningful tattoo of
After winning gold and setting a world record in Rio in 2016, Peaty spent 20 hours in a tattoo studio, covering his upper arm with the image of a lion, along with roman numerals denoting the year 2016.
‘I’ve wanted to get a tattoo for a while, but I couldn’t because it would mean staying out of the pool since you can’t get them wet for a while,’ he said. ‘It reminds me what it took to get gold, and the new world record.’
‘The lion for me represents not fearing who I am up against, not fearing a herd of buffaloes and going out there on my own.’
On the inside of his bicep, he has a second tattoo, of the Olympic rings.
A working-class boy made good, Adam is the fourth and youngest child of Lidl caretaker Mark Peaty and his wife Caroline, a nursery manager, who still live in the red-brick semi where he grew up on the outskirts of Uttoxeter, Staffordshire.
As an infant, the future Olympic champ was terrified of water. ‘He was petrified: he didn’t even like having a bath or a shower,’ Caroline recalled. ‘From the time he could stand, Adam would never even sit down in the bath.’
When the time came to teach him to swim, a severe tantrum ensued. ‘His mum took him to the swimming pool, but he would not go in,’ said his grandmother Mavis Williams, a former biscuit factory worker. ‘Then, around one week later, a friend took him along. I don’t know what happened, but after that, he started going.’
His family say that his fear of water has not entirely disappeared, with the fastest breaststroke swimmer in history is still not keen on going in the sea, still wearing shoes and long trunks because he ‘can’t stand seaweed’, his mother has said.
While Peaty was training at Loughborough University, he met girlfriend Eirianedd Munro, a student who was studying Fine Arts. He was in a relationship with Anna Zair until 2017.
Adam and Eiri announced they were expecting their first child in April 2020, and welcomed their son in September.
He has credited girlfriend Eiri and their son George-Anderson with providing him the extra motivation he needs in training.
He said: ‘As soon as I look at pictures from home, my son or my girlfriend Eiri, I’m like, “OK, I am ready to go now”. It gives me a natural emotion of, “I want to do them proud”.
He says photos of their young son
Eri has herself amassed a total of 13k followers on Instagram, where she shares sultry snaps, and also posts photographs of her nude paintings on her art page.
Meanwhile she has also launched a YouTube channel, on which she has 865 subscribers, and posts videos like: ‘Things I Wish I Knew Before Having a Baby.’
It was at the City of Derby Swimming Club where the pair first met and it was his mother Caroline who woke up at 4.30am every morning to take the youngest of her four children from their home in Uttoxeter to training.
Peaty has credited his father Mark for instilling a relentless work ethic that only surfaced in a sliding doors moment while watching London 2012, which put the then unfocused 17-year-old on the right path.
Adam’s doting parents Mark and Caroline (pictured today with one of their grandchildren) who admitted for many years their star swimmer son was scared of water
Peaty says he stays motivated for training through his desire to the fastest person he can be for his family – and was forced to train in a giant bath in his garden during lockdown
Adam is now a British Olympic great after today’s win
‘My dad says I don’t know what I’ve achieved yet and he’s probably right. But I’ve got a good support team around me and Mel (Marshall, his coach) will keep me grounded. If she thinks I’m being a bit of a k***head she will be quick to say so. She is a massive influence on me.’
At 14, Adam had sufficient talent to be asked to train daily at the City Of Derby Swimming Club. ‘It was really hard going,’ Caroline recalled. ‘I’d get up at 4am, drive him 40 minutes to Derby, wait two hours while he was training, or go to Tesco, then drive him back and do a full day’s work. Then we’d do it again in the evening.’
The local community organised barbecues to help with the cost of travel to competitions.
In 2012, Adam was one of 264 talented young swimmers to receive a £1,000 grant from Lloyds Bank designed to help create ‘future Olympians’, but he was still some way short of being selected for that summer’s Games in London.
He was then aged 17 and was about to go and get ‘drunk in a field’ before discovering that Craig Benson, a friend from their junior days, had made the semi-final of the 100m breaststroke.
‘I was really jealous,’ Peaty has recalled. ‘He was the same age and he was at a home Olympics, something I would never get a chance to do again. It was a “What am I doing with my life” moment.’
That was the moment he ‘started being serious’ about swimming and four years later he became Olympic champion in that event.
‘As a teenager, I used to love getting hammered,’ Peaty admits. ‘But you get those moments where you appreciate that you are an athlete and all these things that come with an athlete have to come first. I’d love to go out on a Friday night, on a Saturday night with the lads. I did that in 2018, pretty much, from like September to December.’
Every Friday and Saturday? ‘Oh yeah, and Thursday,’ Peaty replies. ‘And I just got bored of it in the end, and now I don’t even crave it because I got it out of my system. It got a bit tedious.’
Despite his lifestyle in the months prior, Peaty still won three gold medals at the World Championships in July 2019, breaking his own world record in the 100m —clocking 56.88 in the semi-finals.
The 17-year-old decided to sacrifice his vibrant social life to devote himself fully to swimming.
‘From then, I watched all the Olympics and said to myself I would make the next one. That was when I stopped getting drunk, messing about with my mates and started being serious about this.’
In November 2013, the work began to pay off: Adam won a place on British Swimming’s elite development squad. ‘Once you win a medal, all those nights you didn’t have out, or beers you didn’t drink, will be worth it,’ he said.
And he was good to his word, and has not lost a top level race since.
While Peaty was training at Loughborough University, he met girlfriend Eirianedd Munro, a student who was studying Fine Arts. The couple welcomed their first son last year
Swimmer Adam Peaty is among those tipped to defend his gold medal from Rio 2016 – and his artist girlfriend Eri Munro will be willing him on
Adam Peaty is part of a select band of athletes in Olympic history where the burning question is not so much about whether he will win but by how much and if another world record will tumble.
For Peaty, who as a child developed a fear of water and being put in a bath after his older brothers mischievously told him sharks could get in via the plughole, is redefining what appears possible in the men’s 100 metres breaststroke.
Being unbeaten in seven years in major events is remarkable but to be almost one second clear of anyone in history is scarcely credible. It seemed only coronavirus or a slip on a wet board could have denied him glory at Tokyo 2020.
On the horizon with a time of 57.8 seconds in Friday’s heats was Arno Kamminga, but, to put that into context, Peaty breached the 58-second barrier for the 20th time after retaining his Olympic title.
No British swimmer had ever done so but Peaty’s path to gold in Japan has seemed inevitable. He duly delivered in Monday’s final in a time of 57.37secs – half a second slower than his personal best, but that was a mere footnote.
Peaty’s status as one of Britain’s best swimmers is well established and some would argue he already tops the list. He could remove any doubt in the minds of some by claiming a hat-trick of golds at Paris 2024, before he turns 30.
It is a far cry from his early relationship with the pool, where aged 14 his front crawl underwhelmed the coach who would become his guru so much that she packed him off in one of the slower lanes with younger girls.
However, Mel Marshall spotted his natural ability in the style he has come to master, helping to hone a chiselled 6ft 3in frame that is able to power adroitly through the water and leave all his rivals struggling to keep up.
He has not looked back, rising to prominence at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow by pipping his idol Cameron van der Burgh to gold. Peaty and the South African would go toe-to-toe many times with the Briton often prevailing.
Swimming students at Adam Peaty’s first club, Dove Valley Swimming Club, celebrate his success at the Olympic Games in Tokyo today
British Swimming CEO Jack Buckner was in tears at Uttoxeter Leisure Centre as Adam won again
European and world honours swiftly followed – as he dominated both in the 100m and 50m, which to Peaty’s chagrin is not an event included in the Olympics – before making his presence felt as he won Team GB’s first gold in Brazil.
A time of 57.13s – a jaw-dropping 1.56s clear of the field – shattered the world record he had set days earlier as he became the first British male to become Olympic champion since Adrian Moorhouse in the same event at Seoul 1988.
The great Michael Phelps was left astonished in his final race later on in the Games as Peaty clocked 56.59s in his split of the 4x100m medley relay. The United States won but Peaty had a fan in the 23-time Olympic champion.
Peaty had a lion and the Olympic rings tattooed on to his left arm as a reminder of his success but pride did not come before a fall on this occasion, as his achievements in Rio only spurred him on further.
Thus ‘Project 56’ was born and conquered as he clocked 56.88s en route to yet another gold medal at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, to continue a hegemony few have enjoyed in any sport.
Peaty talks well about offbeat topics such as his beloved grime to more serious issues such as diversity, having last year become a father to a mixed-race baby boy with girlfriend Eiri Munro, who is of Nigerian descent.
He has credited the arrival of son George with giving him a fresh perspective on life and while many questioned whether the burden of expectation would get to him, Peaty spoke with authority about how he embraces pressure.
Peaty certainly showed no sign of being overwhelmed on his way to making history. He may not finish with the medal counts of the likes of Phelps or Usain Bolt, but what he is achieving is no less extraordinary.
‘I’m just so f***ing relieved, who f***ing wants it more?’: Adam Peaty drops double F-BOMB live on BBC after winning Team GB’s first gold at Tokyo Olympics… and shows off huge lion tattoo on medal-winning arm
British swimmer Adam Peaty made Olympic history in Tokyo today by winning gold for the second time – before emotions saw him accidentally swear twice on live TV.
The 26-year-old from Uttoxeter cruised to victory in the 100m breaststroke to defend his crown and confirm his status as Britain’s undisputed king of the pool.
Fresh-faced Peaty, who had shaved off his beard just days before the event, was unable to beat his own world record of 56.88 seconds.
But the sight of him reaching home before anyone else was unmistakable, his left shoulder’s huge lion tattoo – inked after his first Olympic win – glistening in the water.
He remains unbeaten over 100m at breaststroke for the last seven years – which include his gold medal at Rio 2016.
His enthusiasm got the better of him as he turned the air blue with his first words after securing victory.
He said: ‘It takes an athlete to be the best person on the day and who f****** wants it more. It just means the world to me.
Team GB’s Adam Peaty made Olympic history in Tokyo by winning the men’s 100 breaststroke
Briton Peaty held his medal aloft and beamed during the medal ceremony after his triumph
Peaty dominated the field again to remain king of the pool and take Team GB’s first gold medal
‘I thought I had the best preparation but morning finals changed everything and threw that out of window.’
He added: ‘I felt the pressure but I needed to put myself on edge.
‘You can do whatever you want in your own pool but when it comes to being out here it’s not about a time.
‘I was racing myself. It wasn’t about the time but the race.
A clearly emotional Peaty celebrated wildly after coming home in first to retain his 2016 title
Peaty posed for the poolside cameras and had bowed to the crowd to acknowledge his victory
Team GB’s medal haul
Gold – 3 (Adam Peaty – 100m breaststroke, Tom Daley & Matty Lee – men’s synchronised 10m platform, Tom Pidcock – men’s cross-country mountain biking
Silver – 2 (Alex Yee, triathlon, Bradley Sinden, taekwondo)
Bronze – 1 (Chelsie Giles, judo)
‘I wanted it more. I know they are trying to get me but that’s where the training comes in.
‘It’s like the four-minute mile – once one person does it others do.’
Peaty also thanked everyone back in Britain for supporting him in his quest for gold.
He said: ‘Thanks to the nation for being behind me for five years and my family and my beautiful boy.
‘I knew it was going to take every bit of energy and I’m just so f****** relieved. Apologies for the swearing!’
Looking exhausted but ecstatic as he got out of the pool Peaty bowed to the crowd to acknowledge his victory.
The Briton shouted ‘come on’ to his Team GB team-mates who had come Tokyo’s Aquatics Centre to cheer him on.
Peaty came home clear of the opposition but did not come close to breaking his own record, recording a time of 57.37 seconds.
Swimming sensation Peaty (left) beat Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands, who won the silver
Peaty punched the water after defending his crown and continuing his lengthy unbeaten run
His victory is Team GB’s first gold medal at Tokyo 2020.
Before the event new father Peaty told how he missed having his family and other supporters in the crowd.
He also admitted Tokyo ‘does not feel like an Olympics’.
He said: ‘It’s very different out there.
‘It’s very strange because you think you can come here and rely on that “oomph”.
‘But there’s not many people in the crowd because they’re all athletes, coaches and media, which is very different.’
Peaty beamed with joy and pride as he was awarded his Olympic gold medal.
Peaty’s mum has told of her pride – and relief – at her son’s victory.
Caroline Peaty said in a tweet: ‘So glad that’s over, blood pressure must be through the roof lol x.
‘Our house was so quiet, we couldn’t breathe. We are beyond proud @adam_peaty.
‘Love u loads.’
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