Adam Peaty shows Olympic title defence credentials with dominant victory in heat

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Adam Peaty underlined his status as the overwhelming favourite to become the first British swimmer to retain an Olympic title by cruising into the semi-finals of the men’s 100 metres breaststroke.

The 26-year-old from Uttoxeter prevailed in his heat in 57.56 seconds at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, the quickest time of anyone to compete in the event on Saturday night and the eighth fastest of all time over the distance.

He owns the previous seven as well and attention in Sunday morning’s semi-final will turn to whether he can set a new world record, currently 56.88secs which he recorded en route to winning gold at the 2019 World Championship.

Adam Peaty registered the eighth fastest time in the history of the 100 metres breaststroke (Adam Davy/PA)
Adam Peaty registered the eighth fastest time in the history of the 100 metres breaststroke (Adam Davy/PA)

Peaty was 0.24s ahead of closest challenger Arno Kamminga as the rivals took to the pool for the first time in the Japanese capital, the Dutchman shaving 0.1s off his personal best in an earlier heat to record a time of 57.8s.

Kamminga is the only other person to breach the 58-second barrier and he set a new Holland record here but he has work to do to catch Peaty, who admitted afterwards he was slightly unnerved by the absence of cheering supporters.

“(It was) really weird with no crowd, really weird,” the Rio 2016 gold medallist said afterwards.

“It doesn’t feel like an Olympics. It’s not the same. Of course it’s not. But obviously when you go back to the (athletes) village, that’s when it does.

“It’s about controlling all of those emotions and performing when it matters.

“We were very delayed here. It’s very hot. But that’s the psychological things we need to adapt to. I had no idea how it was going to feel out there. I’m glad the cobwebs are out now.

“Heats are heats. I always have cobwebs – it’s pretty much the exact same time I did in Rio – and I always build on that. We will just see where we go from here.”

Peaty’s compatriot James Wilby safely secured his passage into the semis by qualifying sixth in a time of 58.99, finishing behind Michael Andrew of the United States in their heat.

Aimee Willmott is into the final of the women's 400m individual medley (Adam Davy/PA)
Aimee Willmott is into the final of the women’s 400m individual medley (Adam Davy/PA)

In her third and final Games, Aimee Willmott will go in search of a first Olympic medal on Sunday after booking her place in the final of the women’s 400m individual medley, qualifying fifth fastest in a time of 4:35.28.

Max Litchfield squeaked into the corresponding showpiece of the men’s event, claiming the final qualifying position in a time of 4:10.20, while the British quartet of Lucy Hope, Anna Hopkin, Abbie Wood and Freya Anderson eased into the final of the 4×100 freestyle relay, which will be held on Sunday.

There was disappointment for Brodie Williams in the men’s 400m individual medley, as well as Harriet Jones in the women’s 100m butterfly and Olympic debutant Kieran Bird in the men’s 400m freestyle, the trio unable to qualify for the next stage of the respective events.

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