CWG ENGLAND – The morning after the night before, when Wilby ended Olympic champion Adam Peaty’s eight-year unbeaten streak to win 100m breaststroke gold, he was back in the pool for the 50m heats.
This time Peaty finished ahead of him but Wilby’s time of 27.85 seconds was good enough to advance him as the fifth best qualifier.
He stated that “It’s going to be a tough final, as the distance gets shorter it gets a bit more challenging for me, Similar to the heats and semis in the 100, it’s just about getting through the rounds. Its job done and hopefully I’ll challenge for medals in the final. These competition schedules are very difficult, particularly when you’re in multiple sessions back-to-back. but it’s about maximizing recovery. I was lucky to get the bronze in this event on the Gold Coast so it would be amazing to challenge for medals again.”
Former City of York swimmer Wilby admitted he was still pitching himself after his heroics at the Sandwell Aquatic Centre the previous evening.
However, he insists keeping emotions in check is a key part of his new approach.
He went to add that “It’s all part of it, it’s still not quite sunk in yet, I’m just trying to stay focused in game mode, every now and then I see a photo or message, I’ve had a lot of really nice messages, and that will make me smile but I have to remember the races still to come.”
Australia’s Sam Williamson looks the one to beat in the final while South Africa’s Michael Hollie and Scotland’s Craig Benson also posted eye-catching times in qualifying.
Peaty though was not impressed by the long holds on the starting block – urging officials to either change their approach or ‘change their starter.
Wilby added: “There are some long starts but everyone’s in the same pot. It would be nice if it was slightly shorter but I’m sure in the final they’ll have listened to some feedback.”
Peaty is still digesting what happened on Sunday night and while he acknowledged he may have expected too much on his comeback from a broken foot, he openly questioned whether his desire remains the same.
But the triple Olympic champion and world record holder in the 50m and 100m breaststroke said: “You back a lion into a corner, they’re going to bite.
“I’m backed into a corner now but I’m OK with that. It’s just as important in an athlete’s career to have these moments. You think ‘do I want to be here? Do I love the sport as much as I did?’. I don’t know. Those questions, I have to address. I haven’t really had a winter block where I’ve reset. I haven’t even had chance to know where I’m going, it’s almost like you get in a car without a destination. I’ve only been in the water for four weeks, I put way too much expectation on myself and now I’m still debriefing and will be over the next three or four weeks. Obviously, it was a devastating night for me.”
Peaty expressed some irritation with the waiting time on the dive board after his semi-final, where he was more than a second slower than his personal best of 25.95secs he recorded five years ago.
Peaty admitted he had just a couple of hours’ sleep as he struggled to unwind after finishing behind English compatriot James Wilby and Australian pair Zac Stubblety-Cook and Williamson on Sunday.
He intends to miss the relay events but Peaty said he was always committed to competing on Monday in a bid to win the only major medal missing from his collection, while he took some comfort from the advice of James Guy, who told his English team-mate “Don’t let the swimming define you” after his upset loss.
Peaty said: “That was a bit of a switch. As sportspeople we always think our results define us and the whole world sees us as these results. But I’ve still won every single championship, done all the world records, that hasn’t been taken away from me, I’ve just had one bad day in the office. I found that love again (on Monday), but maybe because I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m not looking for gold, I’m just going to look for my best possible swim.”
Peaty has a rough blueprint to get back to the top as he still wants to carry on until at least Paris 2024. He said: “I almost know what I need to do. I’m carrying way too much body weight, way too much muscle for the 100m, so I need to lose four kilograms. But really it comes down to training, you can’t hide from the training and this year I just haven’t had enough of it.”