ZUO Sports >Olympic Legacy >Adam Peaty discusses Michael Phelps comparisons, Gordon Ramsey's influence and attacking his third Olympic Games

Adam Peaty discusses Michael Phelps comparisons, Gordon Ramsey's influence and attacking his third Olympic Games

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Adam Peaty embraces Michael Phelps comparisons with honour, even if outside perceptions mean little. He feels "at peace" again, and to him that is enough to springboard another assault on the Olympic Games. 

Peaty is targeting a third successive 100m breaststroke title in Paris after being announced as part of the 33-strong Team GB swimming squad.

It awaits as something of a culmination of the Olympic champion's comeback following his time away from major competition to look after his mental health, alongside Commonwealth Games disappointment and injury setbacks since his triumph in Tokyo.

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"It's a great honour, it's my third Olympic team," he told Mno Sports. "I took a little break from the sport so it's great to come back with a very good result from London to qualify, it wasn't that I made the team by default, I still had to fight for it and that's all in the spirit of Team GB.

Peaty has his sights set on another Olympic gold Peaty has his sights set on another Olympic gold
Peaty has his sights set on another Olympic gold

Peaty secured his place in Paris earlier this month when he stormed to victory at the Aquatics GB Swimming Championships in London, in the process posting the fastest time of the year in the world.

He has previously spoken of the loneliness he experienced while battling depression and problems with alcohol, with the 29-year-old having withdrawn from the British Championships and been omitted from the GB World Aquatics Championships squad.

"I took time away because I was on a descending slope that is very hard to get out of, bad habits, bad choices and trying to fill a void," he explained. "It took its toll over years and years of this career. For anyone that does sport, whether it's casual or elite, it's incredibly difficult to keep doing over and over again and chase the pursuit of human excellence.

"So I found myself there, took a break and I came back and reconstructed everything I was doing in the sport, and like any job, you've got to put the fun back in it. So I found the fun, and anyone who knows me I'm going to work on and be the hardest worker in the room.

"So once you pair that with the fun and you know the strategies and the techniques, you're always going to be successful because you can't lose so I'm looking forward to what comes this summer."

Phelps, a 23-time gold medallist, famously dealt with ADHD and depression amid his ascent as the most decorated Olympian of all time, revealing how he had contemplated suicide on the back of the 2012 Games.

It is a story to which Peaty can relate in his own way as he seeks to emulate the success of the American sporting icon.

"I'm just my own person on my own path and people compare," he explained. "People can say you're the best in the world and you can be the best athlete and people say you're rubbish, because they've never done it.

"Obviously he's an incredible idol. Incredible person, incredible athlete. If you're going to achieve anything great, it's going to come at a cost. But it's how you work your way back to that and we'll see what my story ends up."

The motivating factors have multiplied over the years and with the experiences Peaty has been through.

With Paris on the horizon, he has plenty from which to find inspiration during his mission to clinch a third 100m breaststroke gold medal.

Peaty booked his place at the Paris Olympics Peaty booked his place at the Paris Olympics
Peaty booked his place at the Paris Olympics

"I think it's just not one driver now. Before it's was about chasing the world record or chasing a medal. These aren't singularities anymore. It's more of a variable," he continued.

"You got hundreds of variables. So it could be my son and inspiring him. Or it could be the kids that we teach every summer where I can't just say, 'don't get knocked down', I've got to do it myself. I've got to lead by example.

"It's my third Olympics and people think you go in there to defend titles and I found my way back that I'm not defending anything here. I'm going on the attack and going on the forefront. And to do that you've got to do more action and less talk. It's just pure discipline, pure process and belief at this point."

Peaty admits to being "absolutely battered" in Tokyo such had been the emotional ride across five years heading into the competition.

To him, the question over whether he is a better person for what he has come through is for the world to say. With that said, he feels it. And that is all that matters.

"For me, I'm at peace with myself," he said. "And I think if you're at peace with yourself you have nothing to prove to anyone else.

"And I think in essence you get more patience with people which may come across as a better person so I think I'm a better person but what's important to me is that I'm a better father. A better partner. Hopefully husband one day."

Having split with the mother of his son in 2022, Peaty began dating Holly Ramsay - the daughter of Gordon Ramsey - in mid-2023.

He paid tribute to both for their influence in helping him navigate his return to competition.

"He's a high level, kind of executioner really," he said of Gordon. "So for me, I see myself as a process-orientated person who works at a high level every single day. And he just inspires me to be successful and be like that.

"He's a great person. And Holly is obviously part of the team and the core team every single day. He's on this journey with me."

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