BIRMINGHAM, England -- Adam Peaty rebounded from Sunday's stunning defeat at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham by winning gold in the men's 50m breaststroke final on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old world record holder suffered his first defeat in the 100m breaststroke of his eight-year senior career on Sunday as he finished in fourth place. Doubts remained over his fitness, given he had been in a race to be fit for these Games after taking time out of the pool following his triumph at Tokyo 2020, compiled by suffering a broken foot in May.
But Peaty, who previously compared himself to a "Lion backed into a corner", roared back on Tuesday, claiming gold in the 50m breaststroke at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre with a time of 26.76 seconds. It is the fifth Commonwealth gold medal of his career.
"I just reverted to who I am," Peaty added. "Mel [Marshall, his coach] said to me 'today you wake up and play,' but I said: 'No. Today I fight.' And I gave literally absolutely everything in my race. I don't care about the time. I don't care about the result. I just care about enjoying that crowd and winning."
Peaty has been a local hero this week, competing in a home Games with his West Midlands hometown, Uttoxeter, just a short drive away. When asked what that meant to him, he said: "I struggled, to be honest, really, really struggled. Again, no race exposure, I have no idea what I'm doing, almost, so I'm just going down there with my heart and my soul. It took until today toward the end of the meet to find that and what it's actually about."
Australia's Sam Williamson came in second to claim silver, while Scotland's Ross Murdoch won bronze. Team England swimmer James Wilby, who won Sunday's 100m breaststroke final, finished in sixth place.
Peaty soared through both his heat and the semifinal on Monday, and was later accused by BBC pundit Mark Foster of being "disrespectful" toward the Commonwealth Games after saying he wasn't bothered about the championships in comparison to the Olympics.
The 27-year-old responded to those comments: "It's been a tough Games, a very hard Games. I came from literally the lowest point two days ago, and I just said 'you know what, I am a fighter, I am not going to let just anyone take this and walk it.' I had to work hard for it."
Peaty lost the 50m breaststroke event at Glasgow 2014 and, famously, Gold Coast 2018, meaning Tuesday's win ended his wait for the only major title missing in his senior career.
"It's the only one I hadn't won in my whole career, and after the 100m I thought I'd have to wait another four years. But I knew this would be my last Commonwealths so today was the day to do it. I've completed the whole collection now," Peaty said.