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#CommonwealthGames; “I think a lot of athletes prefer a male coach but I have worked with Mel for so long and we are so effective I don’t think gender is an issue at all”

 

Adam Peaty, MBE (born 28 December 1994) is a British competitive swimmer who specialises in the breaststroke. He has represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games, FINA World Championships, and European Championships, and England in the Commonwealth Games. He won the gold medal in the 100m breaststroke at the 2016 Olympics, the first by a male British Swimmer in 24 years. He is the current holder of the world record in 50 and 100m breaststroke.

Peaty is the 2016 Olympic champion, the 2015 and 2017 World champion, the 2014 and 2016 European champion, and 2014 Commonwealth champion in 100 metre breaststroke, the 2015 and 2017 World champion, the 2014 and 2016 European champion in 50 metre breaststroke, part of the Great Britain team that won the mixed medley relay world title, and the world record holder as of 5 August 2015 in all three events. He is the first swimmer ever to win both sprint breaststroke events at the same World championships, and the most successful British swimmer in a single World Championships. He is one of only three British swimmers, with David Wilkie and Rebecca Adlington, to have won gold medals at all four major international events (Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Games), and the only swimmer to win all four major gold medals in the same single event at the same time, a feat he completed in winning the 100 metres breaststroke at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Adam Peaty was born on 28 December 1994 in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire to Mark and Caroline Peaty, the youngest of four children. He attended Painsley Catholic College and Derby College.  As a young boy, he developed an acute fear of water and was averse to being put in the bath after his brothers told him that sharks may come up through the plughole. 

Peaty first joined Dove Valley Swimming Club in Uttoxeter when he was nine, and started to win races and setting club records by the time he was twelve. When he was 14, a friend took Peaty to join City of Derby Swimming Club, but the coach at the club, former Olympic swimmer Melanie Marshall, was not impressed by Peaty’s performance in the freestyle and put him in the slow lane with younger girls.  However, she noticed “something special” the first time she saw him swim breaststroke. According to Peaty, he did not take swimming seriously until he was 17 – he was preparing for a night out drinking with friends when he read that Craig Benson, whom he knew well from the junior circuit, made the semi-final of the 100m breaststroke at the 2012 London Olympics, and was spurred on to commit fully to swimming and started training full-time.

 

Commonwealth Games 2018

Coach Mel Marshall watched from the stands on Friday, assiduously writing notes in a pocket handbook on both her own charge and other swimmers in the field. She is a rarity in elite sport, a female coach entrusted with a world-class male athlete. In the top four divisions of men’s football in Britain there are no female head coaches, nor are there in Premiership Rugby nor cricket’s County Championship. Andy Murray briefly selected Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo to be his coach but women are scarce at the top level of men’s tennis coaching, too.

A former elite swimmer herself, Marshall has trained Peaty at the City of Derby swimming club since he was 14. He claims growing up in a family of strong women means he is accepting of her demands. “I think Mel is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met – just because she is so versatile,” he has said. “She can overcome any challenge. She is a unique person in herself, not that we just have a unique relationship.

“That combination of my nan and my mum, and all the women in my life, I think it makes it easier for me to work with Mel. I think a lot of athletes prefer a male coach but I have worked with Mel for so long and we are so effective I don’t think gender is an issue at all.”

 

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