Loughborough Echo

Peaty leads record medal haul for GB swimmers...


LYDIA Jacoby’s goggles fell off diving into the pool, but even if they hadn’t, the speed at which Adam Peaty came flying past her may have knocked them off anyway, writes Luke Baker, of Sportsbeat, in Tokyo.

Jacoby has been one of the stories of Tokyo 2020 so far – the 17-year-old from Alaska, a US state with just one 50-metre pool, who shocked the world to win women’s 100m breaststro­ke gold – but the first-ever 4x100m mixed medley relay Olympic final will be a race she probably wants to forget.

By contrast, Team GB will always remember it – Loughborou­gh swimmers Peaty and Anna Hopkin, along with Kathleen Dawson and James Guy, writing their names in the history books as the maiden Olympic mixed medley relay champions, with a dominant world record in the final to boot.

It was a fourth Team GB swimming gold in Tokyo, to match the record haul achieved at London 1908, while Peaty and Guy joined Tom Dean as the first male British swimmers to be double champions at a Games since those same Olympics 113 years ago.

Peaty was a man possessed as he laid down a frankly absurd split of 56.78s, a full 0.1s better than his own 100m breaststro­ke world record, albeit without needing to react to a starter’s gun. After Jacoby’s initial goggle malfunctio­n that caused her to swim the second leg with the eyewear round her chin, 26-year-old Peaty stormed past her as if powered by an outboard motor. As it turns out, he does not like people being ahead of him.

“It sounds silly but if I see someone ahead of me I just want to go – I see red mist and I’ve got to get you,” he explained.

Not that Peaty is used to trailing. After all, this is a man who is unbeaten over 100m since 2014.

Worryingly for his opponents, even if they are one day able to overhaul him, it appears that being behind only seems to spur him on.

That is one of the unique charms of the 4x100m mixed medley relay, which has been a roaring success at its debut Games – the novelty of seeing male and female swimmers go head-to-head.

Each country is compelled to put two male and two female athletes in its quartet but which strokes are assigned to which gender is entirely up to them.

It means men’s and women’s 100m breaststro­ke champions Jacoby and Peaty are swimming in adjacent lanes, while Hopkin tries to hold off all-conquering American superstar Caeleb Dressel on the anchor freestyle leg.

“It’s pretty cool to say I’ve beaten Caeleb Dressel,” quipped Hopkin after collecting her gold medal.

“I didn’t really look at where he was, that would have taken my focus away from what I was doing, but it’s pretty cool to have been in the same race as him.

“James (Guy) got me such a great lead that there was no chance Dressel could catch me, so it’s all thanks to these guys that I could do what I needed to do at the end.”

Every member of the foursome had a story to tell, with backstroke­r Dawson slipping off the wall at the start but composing herself to stay right with the other teams that also led off with a female, while Guy pulled out of the individual 100m butterfly to focus on the relays.

Sacrificin­g a legitimate solo medal chance ultimately paid dividends, as a sparkling fly split of 50.00s gave Hopkin a lead she never looked likely to relinquish.

It all combined for a new world record time of 3:37.58 – a full 0.83s better than the previous best – and Team GB adding to what has been a stunning Olympics for their swimmers.

The British team, as world champions, looked set to add to their gold collection in the men’s 4x100m medley relay but in the end had to settle for silver on the final day of action at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

But it is a mark of just how far this GB team – also featuring Loughborou­gh backstroke star Luke Greenbank – has come that not only did they push the Americans all the way, but that the overriding emotion was one of disappoint­ment.

Peaty’s breaststro­ke leg had brought them back from seventh to first, a split of 56.53 the fastest ever, only for Caeleb Dressel to produce the quickest-ever fly leg to put the US back in front.

Duncan Scott could not repeat his heroics of 2019 on the freestyle leg and overhaul the Americans, but Peaty already has his eyes on revenge in Paris in three years’ time.

He said: “We haven’t got to wait five years now to get another chance at that medley relay, which is good.

“I’ve felt that pain, I know what it’s like to come second. I don’t like it at all.”

Peaty has led a record-breaking British return in the pool, with four golds, three silvers and one bronze to top their previous best haul that came in London in 1908.

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 ??  ?? OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS: GB’s mixed 4x100m medley relay team, from left, Kathleen Dawson, Adam Peaty, James Guy and Anna Hopkin
OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS: GB’s mixed 4x100m medley relay team, from left, Kathleen Dawson, Adam Peaty, James Guy and Anna Hopkin

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