#SJA2017: pool poster boy Peaty has to be ultimate champion

The voting has opened for Sportsman, Sportswoman and Sports Team of the Year at the SJA British Sports Awards sponsored by the National Lottery. As far as ANTON RIPPON is concerned, there is only one man in contention.

Adam Peaty is Britain’s greatest breaststroke swimmer. That is partly why I will be voting for him as the SJA’s Sportsman of the Year for 2017. 

Consider the evidence – 16 major titles in only three years. In Rio he become the first British male to win an Olympic swimming gold medal since Adrian Moorhouse, who won the same event in Seoul in 1988 (Moorhouse, by the way, would have been seven metres behind Peaty) and he would probably have won gold for the 50m, too, but that is not an Olympic event.

The only person left for Peaty to race against is himself – coach Mel Marshall

This year Peaty has won gold medals at the World Swimming Championships in Hungary at both of his specialist distances, 50m and 100m. He twice broke his own world record in the 50m, in the heats and semi-final, and became the first man to swim under 26 seconds in the event.

And he didn’t do that just once. He did it twice. So where does this leave him? His coach, Mel Marshall, says: “The only person left for Peaty to race against is himself.”

In The Guardian, Andy Bull put Peaty’s achievements into perspective:  “At the Rio Olympics, Peaty won the 100m by 1.56sec. That was 2.65 per cent faster than the man who finished second, Cameron van der Burgh. When Usain Bolt set his world record in the 100m in Berlin back in 2009 he was 1.33% faster than the silver medallist, Tyson Gay.

“To have won by as large a margin as Peaty did, Bolt, the fastest sprinter in history, would have needed to be twice as far ahead again than he already was. In swimming, the only man who has matched Peaty’s winning margin in a sprint is Michael Phelps.”

MEDAL MAN: Peaty (Getty)

It isn’t just that, though, that compels me to vote for Adam Peaty. It’s also his work ethic. Six days a week Peaty gets up at 6am to train. He is in bed by 9pm. When he is in peak training he swims seven miles a day Monday to Saturday. That means that the European, Commonwealth, World and Olympic 100m breaststroke champion swims 1,680 lengths a week.

The 22-year-old City of Derby Swimming Club life member has dominated breaststroke swimming, and it surprised no one that he was among the first 15 athletes selected to represent England at next year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia.

He said: “With the English lion on my arm, I’m pretty patriotic and the Commonwealth Games is where my senior career started, in Glasgow in 2014. It’s where I got my first major win under my belt, taking down the previous Olympic champion in the process. That’s what put me on the stepping stone for these last four years.”

Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington says: “He is the poster boy for swimming across the world, not just in Britain.”

I mean, what more do you want?

Voting closes on Wednesday November 8.

The SJA charity partner for the British Sports and British Sports Journalism Awards is Alzheimer’s Society.  Unite now – text UNITE to 70677 to donate £3 a month or visit