Peaty moves to brink of quad-quad history with another European gold

It looks like George Peaty will have to get used to his dad making history.

Adam Peaty freely admits the birth of his son last September has provided added motivation and when you’re already the greatest breaststroke swimmer of all-time, you probably don’t need much more.

Yet Peaty moved within one step of another remarkable accolade as he sealed victory in the men’s 50m breaststroke on the penultimate day of the European Swimming Championship in Budapest for his 15th European title since 2014.

He is now just a 4x100m medley relay gold on Sunday away from a scarcely believable quadruple-quadruple – winning four titles at four consecutive European Championships.

It would be a brave person to count against the 26-year-old doing not only that, but also becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title in Tokyo this summer, especially with baby George inspiring him every step of the way.

“I’m pretty happy, it was almost perfect execution,” said Peaty after clocking 26.21s to seal 50m breaststroke glory. “If I can do these times in the 50m, it looks very promising for my other races and for the future.

“Obviously, my life has changed a lot since I became a Dad. Basically, he [George] is my sole motivation now and I want to be the best inspiration I can be for him.

“I wanted to show that you can even give your best when the times are tough.”

Peaty set the tone for further British success on the penultimate evening in Hungary as gold in the 4×100m mixed freestyle relay, silvers for Luke Greenbank and Abbie Wood and Anna Hopkin’s bronze cemented GB’s place atop the medal table.

The relay quartet of Duncan Scott, Tom Dean, Hopkin and Freya Anderson dug deep in the final race of the night to hold off a surging Netherlands team, as Anderson touched the wall 0.19s ahead of Femke Heemskerk on the anchor leg.

That took GB’s relay tally for the week to an impressive five golds ¬– with the men’s and women’s 4x100m medley relays to come on Sunday – and the overall haul of gold medals to nine.

Meanwhile, the silver-medal count is at seven after Wood and Greenbank were both narrowly pipped in their races, with Wood just 0.04s behind the victorious Anastasia Gorbenko of Israel in the women’s 200m individual medley.

“I’m really happy with this medal, this my first European podium as an individual,” she said.

“It’s been a hard and intense week for all the British team obviously, the results show that we are going to do well in the summer.

“It’s just been race after race, I’m trying to get as much experience as possible.”

In the men’s 200m backstroke, Greenbank led almost wire-to-wire, only to be overhauled in the final metres by Evgeny Rylov of Russia – ultimately missing out by 0.16s with his time of 1:54.62.

“It was a really difficult race,” he admitted. “I swam 1:54 twice in two days which is better than I had expected.

“Yet, I was so close, to be honest, I’m a bit disappointed, but I suffered an injury between the British nationals and coming here and my only goal was to give my best. Ultimately, this exceeded my expectations so I’m really, really happy.”

And before helping the freestyle relay team to glory, Hopkin claimed a bronze medal in the women’s 100m freestyle by the narrowest of margins, just 0.01s ahead of fourth-placed Ranomi Kromowidjojo in a time of 53.43s, while Anderson came home in fifth.

Hopkin said: “I’m so, so happy, this is my first individual international medal. The time is not far from my personal best which is 53.2. I feel great.”

A series of other Brits also secured places in finals to take place on the last day of competition as both Katie Shanahan and Cassie Wild swam beautifully to ensure double British representation in the women’s 200m backstroke showpiece.

Ben Proud did enough to come through the men’s 50m freestyle semi-finals, James Guy clocked an impressive 50.96s to win his 100m butterfly semi-final and the women’s 50m breaststroke final will feature Sarah Vasey after she qualified third-fastest.

Sportsbeat 2021