Tokyo 2020 - Is dominant Adam Peaty Team GB’s only guaranteed Olympic champion in Japan?
The Rio 2016 gold medallist looks untouchable in the 100m breaststroke after his performances at the British swimming Olympic trials led to him filling the 20 best ever times in the discipline. Peaty is the overwhelming favourite for the event in Tokyo and repeating his heroics from Brazil, so is he Britain’s only banker for a gold?
Adam Peaty looked in unbeatable form at the British swimming trials
It was a typical comment from the world record holder, always searching for perfection and continuously striving to be improve. Peaty has dominated the event since winning the world title six years ago and became a household name when he won Team GB’s first gold medal at Rio 2016.
To think anyone can beat him in Tokyo is unthinkable to most, unless you are his team-mate and friendly rival James Wilby, who believes he is not invincible.
Peaty’s display in London was remarkable given the lack of race practice and the fact there was no competitive need to compete at the Aquatic Centre. He had already been pre-selected for Tokyo, and did not need to take part in the trials. So what’s next?
Britain’s only guaranteed Olympic champion?
Peaty’s main motivation must be to become the first British swimmer to successfully defend an Olympic title. Another world record is surely on the agenda, but after achieving his goal of ‘project 56’ - to become the first swimmer to go below 57 seconds in the discipline - what is the next goal?
Surely it has to be to match his short course mark of 55.41 in a long course Olympic pool. Peaty’s extraordinary time in a 25m pool was set in an International Swimming League match in Hungary in November, and doing something similar in Tokyo must be a possibility.
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No other British Olympian is dominating a sport in quite the same way that Peaty is, and he surely has to be the only athlete you would put your house on for gold.
Peaty admits that swimming 57.39 in London this week is way beyond where he expected to be with over three months to go until the Games start, and you can bet that was not a flat out effort.
He is unfortunate that his other specialist race - the 50m breaststroke - is not an Olympic discipline, but his form may also be enough to help Britain’s 4x100m relay team to beat the USA and Australia, upgrading from silver in Rio.
Peaty says the birth of his son George in September last year is giving him the drive to keep going, despite admitting he had been to some 'dark' places during lockdown. With that in mind, the state of his form right now is all the more impressive.
Are there other Team GB bankers for gold?
There are plenty of British athletes who are contenders for gold, but it is difficult to look past Peaty for guarantees.
Gymnast Max Whitlock will be favourite to win the pommel horse, but faces competition from the likes of Ireland’s Rhys Joshua McClenaghan, who beat him to the title at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
We have no idea what sort of form world champion heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson is in, as she is yet to compete having dealt with an Achilles injury, and even at the best of times Nafi Thiam is hard to beat.
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Equestrian golds will probably come from Ben Maher and Ros Canter, while Liam Heath is well set to defend his canoe sprint gold from Rio.
But the focus will be on Peaty to help Britain get off to a good start.
What will be next for Peaty?
If Peaty achieves gold, and sets new world records, what is the motivation then?
He admitted a few years ago that he was considering the 200m, before confirming he would concentrate on the 100m. He has history in the longer distance, winning the British title in 2015, and it could be a challenge he may consider for Paris.
In France, Peaty will be 29 and still in peak condition to achieve further goals - you would not rule out him having a go over 200m in three years time.