Olympic champion swimmer Adam Peaty says he is “devastated” after finishing outside the medal places in the Commonwealth Games 100m breaststroke.
But with Peaty’s shock defeat came success for England, as compatriot James Wilby took the gold.
Peaty is the reigning Olympic champion and world record holder in his favorite event, having not lost in eight years and never before in a major final.
A broken foot had ruled him out of the World Championships in Budapest earlier this summer, but he unsurprisingly held the lead halfway through the final in Birmingham.
However, he struggled for momentum and was pipped by Wilby, who was the first to touch the wall in 59.25 seconds at Sandwell Aquatics Centre.
Zac Stubblety-Cook was second in 59.52s and fellow Australian Sam Williamson third in 59.82s, 0.04 ahead of fourth-placed Peaty, the 2014 Glasgow and 2018 Gold Coast champion, who failed to put his finger on a time that was just under three seconds off his personal best of 56.88s.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Peaty, who hinted he will not feature in next month’s European Championships.
“I don’t see the point in doing something I wouldn’t be very good at, at the moment. We’ll see.
“I don’t know what went wrong. With 25 meters to go, I had nothing in my mind. Maybe it’s overexposure on the foot. Sometimes you just have a bad run, I can’t figure out where I went wrong. There’s a lot of debriefing to do I need a hard reset now.
“It was a slow final, I can’t remember the last time I went that slow. It just didn’t go right. Of course I’m disappointed, but that’s what makes you go faster next time.
“I’ve kind of lost that spark, whether it’s with my foot, but I’ll look for it in the next few months and into the next two years (before the 2024 Paris Olympics).”
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Wilby has been in Peaty’s shadow for so long and admitted, after winning 200m silver earlier this week, that he was thinking about his swimming future after last year’s Olympics, where he won a relay medal but finished off the podium in the individual event.
Asked if this was the best moment of his career, Wilby said: “It’s certainly up there as a special moment that I’ll remember forever.
“It just sums it up for me, enjoyment and having fun back in the sport is everything. We’ve all seen faster times than that but I love it and it’s got me to the top of the podium this time.
“Everything else doesn’t matter. I’ll always have that medal, I’ll always love looking at it and remembering the moments that brought it here.”
Learning to walk…and months later winning gold
Alice Tai was another English gold medalist on Sunday night, winning the S8 women’s 100m backstroke final, just a few months after having her right leg amputated below the knee.
“It’s kind of surreal,” she said.
“I started and finished last season with surgery, pulled out of Tokyo, then had an amputee in January. I’ve learned to walk this year and it was just a bit of fun to get back in the pool as I missed swimming.”
Wales’ Lily Rice finished third.
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James Guy took bronze in the men’s 200m butterfly final, with Chad le Clos’ silver taking him to 18 Commonwealth Games medals, equaling the overall record of shooting pair Michael Gault and Phil Adams.
Wales’ Medi Harris was a bronze medalist in the women’s 100m backstroke, while the quartet of Freya Colbert, Tamryn van Selm, Abbie Wood and Freya Anderson also finished third in the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay final.