Adam Peaty inspires Great Britain teammates with unexpected World Championships gold

Adam Peaty
Adam Peaty of the Great Britain celebrates his victory in the men's 100-meter breaststroke final Credit: MTI

 By Matt McGeehan in Budapest

Adam Peaty claimed an expected title before proving the inspiration for Great Britain team-mate Ben Proud to secure a surprise gold medal at the World Championships here last night.

Peaty bettered his championship record to finish in 57.47 seconds, but his own world record of 57.13sec set last August in winning Olympic gold in Rio was beyond him. ­Moments after Peaty had received his second successive 100 metre breaststroke world title, Proud won the 50m butterfly. Proud had ­qualified fourth fastest, but built on a superb start to touch the wall first in 22.75sec.

Peaty was 1.32sec clear of the field and was happy with his performance after a first length which was 0.11sec under world record pace. “The way I swam it is very encouraging for me for the future,” Peaty said. Proud and Peaty, both 22, won gold medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

It has taken the Plymouth swimmer a little longer to take a global title, in his third World Championships, but he paid tribute to trailblazer Peaty. “He has really taken Britain a step forwards,” Proud said. “It’s made it easier for that next person to go up and win gold. We saw it two years ago with James Guy. Britain’s a force to be reckoned with.”

Silver medal winner Kevin Cordes of the USA, gold medal winner Adam Peaty of the Great Britain and bronze medal winner Kirill Prigoda of Russia Credit: MTI

Guy won the 200m freestyle title in Kazan, Russia in 2015 and qualified second fastest in defence of his title. Fastest was his team-mate Duncan Scott.

Peaty won Britain’s first gold medal of the Rio Olympics, 1.5sec ahead of his nearest rival. But the 22-year-old Uttoxeter swimmer is determined to build on that performance. His long-term goal is ‘Project 56’, clocking under 57sec, and another gold at Tokyo 2020.

Peaty clocked 56.59sec in claiming medley relay silver in Rio, but relay takeovers result in faster times.

So brilliant has Peaty been in recent years that a world record is expected of him whenever he steps on to the starting block.

Yet he was thrilled to win by a handsome margin from silver medallist Kevin Cordes of the United States, who finished in 58.79sec.

Bronze went to Kirill Prigoda of Russia in 59.05, while Briton Ross Murdoch was eighth in 59.45.

Adam Peaty (C) of Great Britain, Nicolo Martinenghi of Italy (top) and Kevin Cordes of the United States of America Credit: EPA

“I went out there with a lot of guts tonight,” said Peaty, who is now hoping to again win the 50m breaststroke title he claimed in 2015.

“It’s not the time, it’s the way I did it. If you want to go 56 you’re going to have to do stuff you’ve never done before and I was out in a 26.5 – that was very, very easy.

“It’s great to find areas where I can improve, and that was the turn tonight.”

Proud won the non-Olympic 50m butterfly by 0.04sec ahead of Nicholas Santos of Brazil, who finished in 22.79, with Ukraine’s Andrii Govorov taking bronze in 22.84.

Proud said: “As soon as I nailed that start I let my body take over and switched my mind off. And it took me a while to realise I’d won.

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“I was waiting for somebody else to start celebrating. And as no one did I looked at the scoreboard and saw my name was on top.

“This is something I’ve dreamt of ever since I started swimming.

“I was never going to give up on that dream. I was going to keep going until my mid-30s until I was the 50 fly world champion.

“For it to happen in my third world champs is a true blessing.”

There was disappointment for Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, the Olympic silver medallist, as she had to settle for seventh behind home favourite Katinka Hosszu in the 200m individual medley.

Olympic champion Hosszu was roared on by a partisan crowd to win in 2:07.00. O’Connor finished in 2:10.41.

Sarah Vasey and Kathleen Dawson advanced to the 100m breaststroke and 100m backstroke final, respectively, in eighth place.

Guy and Scott will be optimistic of adding to Britain’s medal tally on Tuesday.

Guy won the first 200m freestyle semi-final in 1:45.18 and Scott won the second semi-final in 1:45.16, ahead of Olympic champion Sun Yang of China.