Tokyo 2020 - Adam Peaty on mental health break – ‘People who aren't athletes don’t really understand’
Adam Peaty revealed he will be taking a month out of swimming to recharge physically and mentally. He has defended his decision to do so having faced a backlash online, insisting it is difficult for people to understand the pressure athletes are under. You want it? We have it. Stream every Olympic event live on discovery+.
Tokyo 2020 - Adam Peaty exclusive interview on Tokyo 2020, family life and Paris 2024
Having already defended his decision to take a break from swimming, Adam Peaty has stressed the importance of stepping away from the sport in order to entertain the prospect of a longer career.
The 26-year-old, who won two gold medals and a silver at Tokyo 2020, will miss the International Swimming League (ISL) which begins in September so he can have a break ahead of the World and European Championships and the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Peaty spoke out on Twitter after coming under some criticism for his planned break, and upon his return to the UK he reiterated how important it will be to take some time out from swimming.
“You can’t do all the highs without the lows,” he said. “You can’t continue to push without taking a break. For me, going into the next three years, I knew going into the Games I needed a break, a long time away from the pool.
“I knew that was going to happen. When I saw those comments, people don’t really understand how hard it is to be an athlete. That’s nothing against them, they’re just not athletes.
Unless you’re in this world, it’s very hard to understand. You’re putting in this mad effort, love, passion, energy – it takes so much from you.
"We’re fuelling that every now and then, it’s a great thing. A lot of athletes should be inspired [to take a break] because that way you’ll know if it works or not.
Peaty pointed towards athletes who have remained at the top of their game for one or two decades as a reason why breaks can help.
He added: “I’ve had a lot of support, but some of the comments are like ‘you don’t deserve it’, but I’m like, have you lived with me the last seven years? No. So it’s like, you don’t understand. I don’t hate anyone for having an opinion, but at the same time I know exactly what’s best for me.
“In sport we’re entering a new era, not only just of short-term success, but how do we sustain that over 10, 20 years. Some of the greatest players and athletes in the world sustain it for a very long time and that’s because they look after themselves first.
“I’ll come back with a lot more fury and fire, and if I’ve got that, my fitness, my technique, everything that makes me happy, I’ll be more dangerous than ever.”
'Mental health matters'
“Reading some of the comments in response to this is why we have such a stigma around mental wellbeing in sport,” Peaty wrote on Twitter after addressing a backlash from some online.
“It isn’t a normal job. There is a huge amount of pressure. Money does not buy happiness.
“I’m taking a break because I’ve been going extremely hard for as long as I can remember. I’ve averaged 2 weeks off a year for the last 7 years.
Unfortunately there are people out there who think they know you more than you know yourself.