British swimming superstar Adam Peaty is to take a month-long break from the sport to protect his mental health following his success at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Peaty won two gold medals and one silver at the Games as he retained his 100m breaststroke title.
His move comes after US gymnast Simone Biles and England cricketer Ben Stokes both publicly announced their own mental health battles.
Biles pulled out of today’s floor final, having already withdrawn from the women’s team final and the individual all-round final.
Stokes announced last week that he would be taking an “indefinite break” from cricket.
Peaty, who is due to compete in the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and European Championships next year, referenced Biles and Stokes in announcing his break.
“It isn’t a normal job. There is a huge amount of pressure,” he said.
“I’m taking a break because I’ve been going extremely hard for as long as I can remember. I’ve averaged two weeks off a year for the last seven years.
“Mental health matters and it is about getting the balance right at that elite level.”
Peaty’s decision means he will miss the International Swimming League, which begins in Naples next month.
Peaty break ‘deserved and needed’, say Whitlock
Team GB gymnast Max Whitlock, a fellow Tokyo gold medallist, said he admired and supported Peaty’s decision.
“Sport is dangerous and every sport has its own dangerous parts,” Whitlock told BBC Breakfast.
“The pressure you put on yourself and the external pressures – you’re expected to bring back a gold if you’ve done it before – is mentally really hard. If you’re not mentally right you wont be able to perform.
“Taking a break is massively deserved and needed. A month off is actually quite conservative, I think.”
Peaty said he felt “dismayed” by some negative reaction to his decision.
“Reading some of the comments in response to this is why we have such a stigma around mental wellbeing in sport,” he said in a Twitter post.
“Money does not buy happiness. Unfortunately there are people out there who think they know you more than you know yourself.”