Adam Peaty: why the Olympic swimmer is taking a break - and what he said on Twitter about mental health

The Team GB swimmer bagged Britain’s first gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the 100m breaststroke
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Adam Peaty has spoken out about his disappointment over the negative comments he received when he announced that he would be taking a short break from swimming in order to recharge his mental health.

Peaty made history for Team GB as he became the first British swimmer to retain an Olympic title with his performance in the final of the men’s 100m breaststroke at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

His incredible swim in the final also meant that Peaty bagged the first gold medal for the UK in the Tokyo Games.

Adam Peaty of Team Great Britain celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Men's 100m Breaststroke Final on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)Adam Peaty of Team Great Britain celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Men's 100m Breaststroke Final on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Adam Peaty of Team Great Britain celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Men's 100m Breaststroke Final on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

What happened?

After winning two gold and one silver medal at Tokyo 2020, Peaty announced that he would be taking a break from the pool in order to rest and reset, therefore skipping the International Swimming League which starts next month.

He referenced the struggles of American Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, who recently withdrew from a number of events, and England cricketer Ben Stokes, who has announced a break from cricket.

When asked how he intended to unwind after his appearance at the games, Peaty said: “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?”

As well as preparing for the Olympics, Peaty recently became a first time father, with the swimmer stating that he wanted to “make that time up” that he’s lost.

He said: “The amount of time that has been taken away from me with my partner and my boy – he doesn’t know it – but I want to make that time up. I’m going to enjoy it, recover. I’m going to need all the energy I’ve got and all the downtime.

“I can’t believe how quick this year has gone, the amount of stuff we’ve gone through, the amount of challenges we came through, I was training down the local park for a while with Mel, that’s where we were, the whole country was in lockdown.”

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What was the reaction like?

When an article about Peaty’s decision to take a break was published, it became overrun with negative comments criticising the medal winning Olympian.

One person wrote: “I think this whole ‘mental health’ thing has gone a bit far.”

Another commented: “Don't you start, Adam! If only the struggling employers and their employees could take an "entire month out" to recharge their batteries. Employers all stressed out with Covid-19... employees struggling to feed themselves, and their families at this particularly testing time for one and all. Now, when one really thinks about it, Adam, you and your sporting colleagues are only playing games... a well subsidised hobby so to speak.”

“This is getting pathetic,” another wrote.

Another user wrote: “Holy moly another mental healther! its amazing with all our advances in our living conditions,our unequalled health care and standard of living. there are some who think they are hard done by!!! we ve never had it sooo good yet some would like us all to think its a hard life!!!!!!!”

How has he responded to the comments?

Taking to Twitter to address the comments, Peaty wrote: “Reading some of the comments in response to this is why we have such a stigma around mental wellbeing in sport.

“This 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 two weeks off a year for the last seven years.

“Unfortunately there are people out there who think they know more than you know yourself.”

Replies to Peaty’s Tweet have been overwhelmingly positive, with many offering their support and kind words.

One Twitter user wrote: “Adam, you put in a huge effort (mental, physical & emotional). You deserve all the rest you want. Mate, if you want to sit in an armchair eating biscuits for the rest of… you’ve earned it. Take time out with loved ones. Don’t swim til you miss it. It’ll mean more to go back.”

Another Tweeted: “Mate, you’ve been an inspiration to many for 5 years, you’ve dedicated yourself to winning but also gave yourself up for everyone else! Make sure you are ok, look after yours and enjoy normal time! Breaststroke isn’t going anywhere!!”

“I completely agree with you Adam, mental health matters. Enjoy your time off and congrats again on the gold medal - all well deserved,” Tweeted another.