James Wilby wants to put down Tokyo marker in breaststroke fight with Olympic rival Adam Peaty at British Swimming Selection Trials in London
- James Wilby offers to knock the seemingly unstoppable Adam Peaty off his stick
- The duo will compete against each other during the British Swimming Selection Trials in London
- Peaty hasn’t lost a major 100m race in a 50m Olympic pool since 2014
As Tokyo celebrates 100 days to the Olympics, Adam Peaty kicks off his own countdown on Wednesday with a race against his main gold medal rival.
However, the stage for the battle of the world’s best schoolmasters is not an all-star international event, but the British Swimming Selection Trials in London behind closed doors.
James Wilby is the man who offers to knock the seemingly unstoppable Peaty off his stick after taking silver behind his teammate in the 100m breaststroke at the 2019 World Cup with the third fastest time in history.
James Wilby is the man who offers to knock the seemingly unstoppable Adam Peaty off his stick
That British one-two punch in South Korea means Peaty and Wilby have both secured all of their Team GB spots for Tokyo for this week’s Olympic trials.
But their race still promises to be the highlight of the first of five race days at the London Aquatics Center – and Wilby insists he won’t settle for second place now or in Japan.
“Every athlete can be beaten in the end,” says the 27-year-old of his prospects to beat the world record holder and Olympic champion.
‘The classic I’m thinking of is Michael Phelps. At Rio 2016, the three of those absolute legends (Phelps, Laszlo Cseh and Chad Le Clos) jointly received silver in the 100m butterfly and Joseph Schooling received the gold.
Wilby finished behind Peaty at the 2019 World Championships with the third fastest time ever
“Whenever people say” so and so is untouchable in this case, “I always think about it and think that anyone could possibly be beaten, even if it takes the perfect race.”
It may even take more, as Peaty hasn’t lost a major 100m race in an Olympic-sized 50m pool since his debut in 2014. His long world record time of 56.88 seconds is also more than a second and a half. faster than Wilby’s personal best.
“It’s a challenge,” adds Wilby of his rivalry with Peaty, who trains in the same pool in Loughborough but under a different coach. ‘He’s the best in the world, but it helps that he’s in Britain and just left the track. If someone ranks higher, you want it to be someone from Great Britain.
‘Having him there is both an element of competition and an inspiration. When we reach the international podium, we race against each other, but it is also “can we get the GB flag one and two?”. ‘
Unlike Peaty, Wilby is also competing in the 200-meter breaststroke in London in preparation for a longer-distance medal attempt at the rescheduled Tokyo Games, which begin with measures against the corona virus in 100 days.
Peaty hasn’t lost a major 100m race in a 50m Olympic pool since 2014
“ When it gets below the triple digits of days, it really gets real and it’s almost like looking down the barrel of a gun and we’re ready to race, ” says Wilby. ‘It’s just exciting to see it finally happen.
“Being pre-selected for the team is a lot of fun, but I still want to go to the trials and swim really fast times and prepare the way for myself for the summer.
“Some of the things that make the Olympics the Olympics aren’t going to happen, and that’s a real shame. But if that’s what we need to do to be safe, I can see that it doesn’t get in the way of actual execution. ‘
Team GB won six swimming medals in Rio, their best Games since 1908, but Wilby thinks they can surpass that in Japan. “ We haven’t had a major summer league in two years, so by the time we get to the Olympics, all guns will be on fire, as I’m sure everyone else will be, ” he adds.
‘I think there is an element that almost no predictions can be made about. There are some wild cards and some dark horses.
But there’s the prospect of dark horses coming through for GB, swimmers showing up that you wouldn’t have predicted 12 months ago, 18 months ago. It’s a bold statement, but I think our medal tier in Rio may be in jeopardy. ‘