'I know what is best for me', says Adam Peaty as he takes time off to prioritise mental health

"I have broken a world record every single year because I know what is best for me," Adam Peaty reacts to the response following his announcement he is taking a mental break

Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Adam Peaty has told ITV News he knows "exactly what is best for him", following criticism to the announcement he will spend a few months away from the pool to prioritise his mental health.

The British swimmer won two golds and a silver at the summer's Olympics, including retaining his men’s 100 metres breaststroke title, as Team GB claimed a record eight swimming medals, eclipsing their previous best of seven at the 1908 Games.

Peaty is set for a busy 2022, which will include World and European Championships and the Commonwealth Games, as the British swimming team prepare for the next Olympics in Paris in three years.

The 26-year-old from Uttoxeter will miss the International Swimming League, starting next month, in order to reset, referencing the struggles of American gymnast Simone Biles and England cricketer Ben Stokes as reasons to strike a balance.

Speaking to ITV News about the criticism, Peaty said: "The thing is, especially being a sportsperson, a lot of people have opinions about you and what's best for you and for me I know exactly what is best for me.

"I have broken a world record every single year because I know what is best for me.

Great Britain’s Duncan Scott, Luke Greenbank, James Guy and Adam Peaty after winning the silver medal in the men’s 4x100m medley relay Credit: left-right

Peaty added: "So now I am going to take myself away from the pool for quite a while, I'm talking a few months - which is a long time in sport - just to give myself a mental break from the continuous pushing and the continuous grind and the continuous nutrition, recovery and just get away from it for a while."

Earlier he said he has been saddened by some of the negative comments he has read in an article highlighting his decision, insisting the burden he and his team-mates have carried over the last few months is different to usual employment.

Peaty said on Twitter: “Reading some of the comments in response to this is why we have such a stigma around mental wellbeing in sport."

He continued: "It isn’t a normal job. There is a huge amount of pressure. Money does not buy happiness.

“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.

“Unfortunately there are people out there who think they know you more than you know yourself.”

Peaty bagged his second successive men’s 100m breaststroke title, adding gold in the mixed 4x100m medley relay and silver in the men’s equivalent in the final race of the swimming programme in the Japanese capital on Sunday.

Asked afterwards how they would unwind, James Guy joked “a burger and some chips will do me” but Peaty offered a more sobering reflection at how important time away from the pressures of the sport is.

He said on Sunday: "It’s been hard for everyone, for every sport out there, it’s been very, very tiring.

"But I think (what’s next is) celebrating and having what my coach Mel Marshall and me call a forced rest where we’re not allowed to touch the water for a month now."

He added: "It’s going to be a war of attrition over the next three years, we have three major championships next season, and you’ll see people who are falling off, going all the way through ISL and World Cups, by the time they get to Paris.

"You’re seeing it in all sports now. You’re seeing it with Simone Biles, you’re seeing it with Ben Stokes, mental health matters.

"It is about getting the balance right at that elite level. We love to celebrate, why shouldn’t we?"

Where can you get help if you are struggling?

The NHS and several charities across the UK offer various resources and helplines for people who need help and for people who think someone they care about needs support.

Mind has a helpline on 0300 123 3393.

The Samaritans, which helps people who feel suicidal, can be contacted on 116 123.

YoungMinds, who support young people with mental health issues, can be contacted on 0808 802 5544.

The NHS has a resource page offering various routes to support here.