TOKYO (Reuters) – World record holder and defending champion Adam Peaty shaved his moustache but won, as usual, by much more than a whisker as he powered through to the Tokyo Olympics 100m breaststroke final with the fastest time on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Briton won his morning semi-final comfortably in 57.63 seconds, slower than the 57.56 in Saturday’s evening heats but more than a second quicker than China’s Yan Zibei.
American Michael Andrew was third in that heat, 1.36 off Peaty’s time.
Dutch rival Arno Kamminga won the other semi-final in 58.19, also slower than his Saturday time of 57.80 and only 0.09 quicker than Italian Nicolo Martinenghi. Britain’s James Wilby was third in that heat, 0.81 off the pace.
“Medals aren’t won in the heats, they’re not won in the semi,” said Peaty, who said he still had something in reserve for Monday’s final.
“The Olympics are always about racing. It’s never about the time. I’m the best racer in the world, I think, so I’m looking forward to it.
“I wanted to be a little bit quicker this morning but hey ho, it’s the morning so you never know what you’re going to get.”
Peaty, who said he had shaved after getting “a lot of bad comments” about his upper lip, made a point of bowing when he appeared poolside despite the lack of spectators.
“It’s obviously very different to the worldwide perspective,” he said.
“When you’re actually here, everyone’s so welcoming and so happy. These are the Olympic Games, they are the greatest show on earth and obviously we want to show our mutual respect.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Peter Rutherford)