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KNIGHTHOOD: Foster says Olympic champion Peaty should be a Sir

Mark Foster, the former world champion, believes Adam Peaty should be knighted after he defended his Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.

Peaty became the first British swimmer to successfully defend an Olympic title after roaring to victory in the men’s 100 metres breaststroke final in 57.37 seconds, the fifth fastest time in the history of the event, with runner-up Arno Kamminga a distant 0.63secs adrift.

His coronation has seemed inevitable for a while as not only is he unbeaten in major competitions over the distance in seven years, his personal best of 56.88s is almost a second quicker in the event than anyone else in history.

Foster lauded the achievements of Adam Peaty and hopes he'll be knighted at some point due to his outstanding successes at the Olympic games.

He said: “I’m hopeful he’ll win Sports Personality of the Year because I believe he should do and I’m hoping he becomes Sir Adam at some point because I believe he should.

“He’s the most successful swimmer we’ve ever had and I would say he’s one of the most successful sportsmen we’ve ever had.”

Foster thinks Peaty could defend his Olympic crown again at Paris 2024 – and even go beyond that.

The 51-year-old said: “Adam could come back and say, ‘I’ve had enough, I’m tired of this’ but I don’t think he will. He’s 26. He’s got Paris in three years time, and four years after that is LA.

“Knowing Adam, Paris is definitely on the cards and, if I was him and in his shoes… I didn’t retire until I was 38 because I loved what I did. He loves what he does.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Jack Buckner, the chief executive of British Swimming.

Buckner, himself a former Olympian in distance running, said: “No British swimmer has ever repeated a gold medal. He’s not only our best-ever swimmer, he’s one of our best-ever Olympians.

“To have a long career like that is really challenging, so he’s right up there. We probably don’t appreciate quite how great he is and the scale of his achievement. He is in the pantheon of British sports stars.”

It is hoped Peaty’s success will not only inspire current swimmers but encourage more people to take up the sport.

George Wood, sport development director of Swim England, said: “Every kid needs to learn to swim for their own safety and life skill.

“With Adam as the figurehead, I think it is going to be amazing for swimming, inspiring a whole new generation to get involved. This could be an amazing moment for swimming.”

Adam Peaty’s early swimming instructors were “gobsmacked” by his talent as a child.

The staff at Uttoexeter Leisure Centre always knew their former charge was going to be special and were beaming with pride on Monday morning as Peaty made British swimming history by defending his Olympic title.

The 26-year-old was in a class apart as he powered to victory in the 100 metres breaststroke at Tokyo 2020, following up his triumph from Rio five years ago.

It was a performance that came as no surprise to many that have followed his career, not least his former instructor Sheila Hughes.

“It was a marvellous performance,” Mrs Hughes, 71, told the PA news agency. “He is phenomenal swimmer.

“I first came across Adam in beginners’ class when a colleague said, ‘Will you have a look at this little boy’.

“We were so gobsmacked. We hadn’t seen a boy with breaststroke feet like that.

“He got his 10-metre badge and then went through to intermediate and then advanced. I had him until he was 11.

“He had a work ethic at that age – he got in and he swam. He did the business. He had a special talent from a very young age and I don’t think anyone will ever catch him, no way.”

John Plant, the chairman of Dove Valley Swimming Club in Uttoxeter, has also known Peaty from a young age and was among his first coaches.

“I’m speechless and that’s not said very often for me,” Mr Plant, 66, said. “What Adam has achieved, not just today, but over the last seven years is just fantastic.

“To be on top of your game momentarily is brilliant but for seven years, in a sport like swimming which is so gruelling and so physical, with the mental stresses too, Adam is absolutely up there.”

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