Tokyo Olympics: Adam Peaty to take short break to mentally recharge before busy 2022

Adam Peaty: Team GB star wins 100m breaststroke gold at Tokyo Olympics
Dates: 23 July-8 August Time in Tokyo: BST +8
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British swimmer Adam Peaty is taking a month-long break from the sport to protect his mental health and recharge before a push for more success in 2022.

Peaty retained his men’s 100m breaststroke title on the way to two golds and a silver at Tokyo 2020.

The 26-year-old has referenced the struggles of American gymnast Simone Biles and England cricketer Ben Stokes as reasons to strike a balance.

“It isn’t a normal job. There is a huge amount of pressure,” Peaty said.

“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.”

It means he will miss the International Swimming League, which starts next month.

Speaking to the Telegraph,external-link Peaty said the next three years leading into the Paris 2024 Olympic Games would be a “war of attrition” and stressed the importance of athletes protecting their mental health.

Next year will see World and European Swimming Championships, as well as the Commonwealth Games.

“Mental health matters and it is about getting the balance right at that elite level,” Peaty said.

But he has been disappointed by some of the replies to the news on social media.

“Reading some of the comments in response to this is why we have such a stigma around mental wellbeing in sport,” he said in a Twitter post.

“Money does not buy happiness. Unfortunately there are people out there who think they know you more than you know yourself.”

American gymnast Biles, 24, withdrew from Monday’s floor final, having pulled out of the women’s team final and individual all-around final last week to focus on her mental health.

England cricketer Stokes, 30, is taking “an indefinite break” from the sport to prioritise his mental wellbeing and rest his left index finger.

In response to Peaty’s decision, British gymnast Max Whitlock says it is a “huge positive” that athletes are talking publicly about how they feel and making decisions which are “right for them”.

Whitlock, who won his third career Olympic gold medal on Sunday, said he took three weeks off after London 2012 and had a three-month break following Rio 2016.

“Sport is dangerous and every sport has its own dangerous parts,” Whitlock, 28, told BBC Breakfast.

“Adam and Simone would agree that getting results after hitting the pinnacle of your sport previously is 10 times harder to achieve. Chasing is 10 times easier.

“The pressure you put on yourself and the external pressures – you’re expected to bring back a gold if you’ve done it before – is mentally really hard. If you’re not mentally right you wont be able to perform.

“Taking a break is massively deserved and needed. A month off is actually quite conservative, I think.

“I didn’t get into the gym after London and Rio because I wanted to wait until I was itching to go back in. If I went in before that it would feel like it was routine and what I had to do.

“Waiting until you’re itching helps your mindset and get that fire in the belly to help achieve what you want to do more.

“People are realising it is OK to speak out if you’re not feeling great. That’s a great thing.”

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