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SPORTS

Adam Peaty Marks His Return from a Mental Health Break with a Bronze at Swim Worlds; US Wins 2 Golds

February 12, 2024

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — World-record holder Adam Peaty marked his return to major competition with a bronze medal in the 100-meter breaststroke at the World Aquatics Championships on Monday after an extended break to deal with mental health issues.

American swimmer Nic Fink won gold in 58.57 seconds, Nicolo Martinenghi of Italy claimed silver in 58.84 and Peaty touched in 59.10 — far off his world record of 56.88 set in 2019.

Peaty didn’t shave his red mustache and wore hoop earrings for the final. The British standout had a slow start and never quite recovered but his main goal this season is still to come at the Paris Olympics.

“I’m a bit disappointed with the execution,” Peaty said. “But that’s what I’ve got to focus on for the next five months now.”

Peaty, who took a break last year as he struggled with depression and alcohol abuse after an unprecedented run of success, won the 100 breast at the last two Olympics and claimed gold at worlds in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

“It’s bittersweet, because we did get a medal, which we didn’t aim for,” Peaty said. “The only thing I’m disappointed about is obviously the lack of skills but also going slower from the semi to the final. I don’t want to be that person who does that. I never have been.

Gold medalist Nic Fink of the United States, center, silver medalist Nicolo Martinenghi of Italy and Adam Peaty of Britain pose for a photo during the medal ceremony for the men’s 100-meter breaststroke final at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

“I’ve got to keep things in perspective that (since his return) this is my first triple — heats, semis, final — so still getting used to that, still enjoying this sport and being back in the arena,” Peaty added.

Peaty missed the 2022 worlds due to a foot injury and was taking his break during last year’s worlds — meaning his last major meet was the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

“I do believe everything happens for a reason,” Peaty said. “I’m going to take the success along with the failures. At this time of the season a failure is a good thing and makes me tune and learn a little bit more. We’ll see how it pushes us through trials and the Olympics.”

The 30-year-old Fink added to his gold in the 50 breast at the 2022 worlds in Budapest. He celebrated by propping himself up on a lane rope and pointing to his flexed right bicep, then tumbled backward into the water.

“It’s definitely crazy getting the first worlds gold in the 100 at the age of 30,” Fink said. “The fact I was able to accomplish so much in my career and I’m still experiencing new things is really fun right now.”

Kate Douglass — the only American individual gold medalist from last year’s worlds in Fukuoka, Japan, who came to Doha — comfortably defended her 200 individual medley title in 2:07.05 ahead of Sydney Pickrem of Canada (2:08.56) and Yu Yiting of China (2:09.01).

Angelina Kohler became the first German woman to win individual gold in 15 years at worlds when finished first in the 100 butterfly. Britta Steffen swept the 50 and 100 free in 2009.

Kohler touched in 56.28 to shave a whopping 0.77 off her fifth-placed finish in Fukuoka less than seven months ago. Claire Curzan of the U.S. took silver in 56.61 and Louise Hansson of Sweden took bronze in 56.94.

Diogo Ribeiro won the 50 fly for Portugal’s first-ever gold at worlds, touching in 22.97 ahead of Michael Andrew of the U.S. (23.07) and Cameron McEvoy of Australia (23.08). The 19-year-old Ribeiro claimed silver in the same event at Fukuoka last year for Portugal’s first ever medal at worlds.

The 50 fly is not an Olympic event.

In women’s water polo, the U.S. beat Australia 10-9 to set up a semifinal against Spain, which beat Canada 12-9. Also, Hungary beat the Netherlands in a penalty shootout and will next face either Italy or Greece.

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