Phil Jones has revealed how injury hell left him feeling "the lowest I've ever been" and that his career was "finished" as the Manchester United defender at last closes on a first-team return.

The 29-year-old has not played for the Red Devils since January 2020 due to a debilitating knee problem that has dogged him throughout his career.

First identified during his academy years at Blackburn Rovers, Jones had an operation after Euro 2012 to remove the meniscus in his right knee. He was forced to manage the problem for years, playing at "60 per cent" because he would "do anything for United", even though, by 2016, "any resistance against the knee was just agony".

Jones then recovered fitness during the coronavirus-enforced shutdown last year but, when he had to stop running in training, he sought further treatment that culminated in surgery last August. The centre-back has been battling to recover again in the 14 months since and has now played two matches for United's Under-23s, most recently against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Retelling the story of his progress and setbacks to the Times, Jones said the moment his knee gave up again last May left him considering whether the fight was worth it.

He said: "I'd lost my mind completely. I'm thinking, 'I'm finished, can't be bothered with all this anymore'. I went straight to the doc and said, 'Enough's enough. I've had too many anti-inflammatories, too many injections, too many close shaves. I need this sorted.'

"It was the lowest I've ever been as a human being. I used to come back [from the training ground] and be in bits. My head was an absolute mess. I'd be in tears. I'd say to [wife] Kaya, 'I don't know what to do'. I remember us both crying.

"She has kept the ship together while I got my s*** together. I feel guilty because she didn't deserve having to deal with me every day and then look after the kids."

Jones, who has just under two years on his contract, was prompted to speak out when former United team-mate Rio Ferdinand described him as a "waste of time" who was blocking a youth player's passage to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's senior side. Solskjaer himself was angered by Ferdinand's comments.

"Listen, the respect I've got is enormous," Jones said of Ferdinand. "I've shared a dressing room with Rio – great professional. Loved playing with him. Great lad, good humour. Learnt so much off him. But what he said was poor. Really poor. 

"I've done my absolute utmost. From tablets, to my diet, to setting up my house so that every time I get back from training I'm sitting in recovery boots and have my ice machine ready. Nobody can say, 'You didn't do enough'.

"I'll fight for United until someone tells me, 'Go somewhere else'."

Jones, who was also heckled in the street while walking with his infant daughters, added: "In this society we're living in at the minute, all the racism and stuff that affects mental health – I'd just say be careful. You don’t know how it's going to affect players: physically, mentally, emotionally. 

"Listen, my problems are not bigger than the problems someone has to deal with in an office, I know that. But they are problems. Footballers have problems like anybody else, and maybe me talking can help players.

"Every footballer has a tag and unfortunately mine is, 'Let's have a laugh at him'. But – and I say this in the nicest possible way – I know who'll have the last laugh. I'm proud of my career and when it finishes and I'm enjoying my life – and by the way I'm super fortunate that I'll be able to do that, because footballers are fortunate – [the keyboard warriors] will still be in their mum's spare bedroom, sipping Diet Pepsi that's flat, eating a Pot Noodle, sitting in their boxers, tweeting."

Jones, who has only played eight times since the start of 2019-20, won the Premier League title during Alex Ferguson's final season at the club and it was a meeting with his old boss that helped to boost him on his journey back to playing.

"He was just unbelievable for me," Jones added. "I went to the premiere of his film with a few players and he came over, we shook hands and then out of the blue he said, 'Hey, you were f****** terrific against Real Madrid away [in 2013]. F****** marking [Cristiano] Ronaldo.'

"It just gave me so much confidence. To be honest, I didn't even watch his premiere, I was just sitting there thinking about his comment, thinking, 'He remembers it... someone of his magnitude remembers that'."

Taylor Heinicke is determined to establish himself with the Washington Football Team, and his display in the 30-29 win over the New York Giants was hailed as "gutty" by Ron Rivera.

Filling in for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is out with a hip injury and likely not available until November, Heinicke threw two touchdown passes in a game for the first time in his short NFL career.

The quarterback has had prior spells in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers, but before this season he had tallied just eight games in the league.

Now Heinicke has a chance to play a string of games for Washington, and even though he threw an interception with 2:22 remaining in Thursday night's game, he came good after that, commandeering the drive that resulted in Dustin Hopkins making a match-winning field goal.

Heinicke finished the game with 34-for-46 passing for 336 yards and the two touchdowns, as Washington won their first game of the season.

Speaking on Thursday Night Football, Heinicke said: "Defense came up big and we had a chance to close them out there and throwing a pick is not what you want to do.

"A lot of guys came up to me and said we've got one more chance to do it and fortunately we did. Defense came up and we went down and scored."

Asked whether he considered he had done enough to stay on the team, Heinicke said: "I do, and I have confidence that I can do it. If those guys in the locker room and the facility believe in me, that's all that matters and I think they do, so let's try to keep this ball rolling."

An impressed Rivera was captivated by Heinicke looking to make amends for his error, and by the 28-year-old's overall performance..

"It was very gutty," said the Washington coach. "The thing that was real impressive about him was the way he bounced back after the turnover. Prior to that, he went down and, in what, three plays, he scored a touchdown and turned around, and we were trying to kill the clock, and he made a bad read, made a bad decision.

"But getting that opportunity, he stepped up again."

Heinicke lost his cool and threw down his helmet after the interception, before gathering his thoughts and moving on.

"He was p*****. He was upset at himself, he really was," said Rivera. "He slammed his helmet into the ground. It was just one of those things that you just felt if we can get the ball into his hands...

"He does have the ability to throw the ball, and make all the throws And we've seen that. And he's got a lot of confidence. And when he gets into a really nice rhythm, he can deliver a good ball.

"He's got a little swagger to him and his team-mates feed off of it, they really do."

Barcelona are a structurally better side without superstar forward Lionel Messi, according to head coach Ronald Koeman.

The LaLiga giants were left stunned last month when Messi departed for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer after they were unable to fulfil a new contract that had been agreed.

Messi's exit has left a big void at Camp Nou, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner having scored 672 goals and assisted 265 across his 778 appearances for Barcelona.

Barca have started the post-Messi era with two wins and a draw in their opening three league matches, scoring seven goals in the process, and Koeman believes his side are adjusting to life without their greatest ever player.

"It was a huge blow to lose him," Koeman told Sport. "We had planned for the season with him. 

"We lose so much and it took a few days to get things in order, but we must turn the page and build the team.

"Losing Messi doesn't oblige us to play different tactically but there are things without the ball where the team can improve. 

"We won't have the individual quality of Leo, but in pressing and structuring the team, the team is better now."

 

Antoine Griezmann is another high-profile forward to have left Catalonia last month, the France international returning to Atletico Madrid on an initial loan just two years after swapping clubs.

Koeman understands the club's decision to let Griezmann depart in the final stages of the window, with Luuk de Jong arriving from Sevilla as a replacement.

"The aggravation we had on the last day, with practically no time to find a solution, it was a b****," Koeman said.

"Griezmann had a great contract and if he left it was going to help improve the financial situation of the club. That's why I agreed to his departure."

 

Koeman has repeatedly called on his other attacking players to step up and new recruit Memphis Depay has done exactly that with two goals and an assist in his first three competitive games for Barca.

Depay also scored his first international hat-trick for the Netherlands in Tuesday's 6-1 win over Turkey to move level with Johan Cruyff and Abe Lenstra in Oranje's list of all-time top scorers.

President Joan Laporta revealed this week Depay's number nine shirt is now the biggest seller at Barca and Koeman has backed his compatriot to be the face of the club for years to come.

"Memphis can mark an era at Barca," Koeman said. "He has something that is essential to be a success here: personality and character. 

"There's something different about him and he's really motivated by the challenge of being here."

He added: "There are always things to improve but I'll tell you one thing: if we have everyone available, we can do big things.

"We have a great team. We still have to be realistic, it will be difficult, but I am optimistic and ambitious."

Chelsea lodged three bids before Romelu Lukaku realised their interest in him was serious, but he did not want to disrespect Inter after they rescued him from Manchester United.

Lukaku returned to Chelsea for a reported £97.5million (€115m) last month, departing Inter after two seasons in Serie A, having led the Nerazzurri to the title last season.

The former United forward excelled in Italy after a difficult two-year spell at Old Trafford, regaining the form that saw the Red Devils pay a reported £75m to sign him from Everton.

Lukaku scored on his second Chelsea debut, helping Thomas Tuchel's team to a 2-0 win at Arsenal.

Reflecting on his move while on international duty with Belgium, Lukaku revealed he was swayed by how much the Champions League holders pushed to sign him.

However, he was grateful to Inter, and adamant he would not take an unfair route in order to secure a move back to west London.

"I didn't want to go behind Inter's back," Lukaku said. "They got me out of the s***. I was in a deep hole at United."

Speaking to VTM Nieuws, Lukaku said: "With Chelsea's third offer, I knew it was serious.

"I only realised that Chelsea were serious when they made their third offer. First, they offered €100m. Then €105m, €105m plus [Marcos] Alonso. Then they offered €110m plus [Davide] Zappacosta, but Inter said no.

"After training I went to [coach Simone] Inzaghi's office. I didn't want to ruin the atmosphere because I was no longer in Milan in my head. So I asked him: please find an agreement."

Lukaku netted twice in Belgium's 5-2 win over Estonia on Thursday. On Sunday, he will make his 100th appearance for the national team should he feature against the Czech Republic.

"He is a legend of Belgian football, his statistics are fantastic," Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said of Lukaku, who is the country's record scorer with 66 goals.

"When I talk about Romelu, it's always a bit subjective. I've been lucky enough to see Romelu grow as a player and he's developed superbly.

"Tomorrow he will play his 100th international match and I think that should be a big party. Sometimes we take for granted what we have. But players like Romelu are rare, they should be enjoyed."

Oscar De La Hoya has been hospitalised after contracting COVID-19, putting his boxing comeback on hold.

De La Hoya, often cited as one of the sport's greats, was due to come out of retirement to face former UFC champion Vitor Belfort in Los Angeles on September 11.

However, the 48-year-old has had to withdraw from the fight after falling ill due to the coronavirus.

Former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, 58, is reported to have been lined up as a replacement for De La Hoya.

De La Hoya tweeted a video from his hospital bed on Friday, with the caption: "Wanted you to hear directly from me that despite being fully vaccinated, I have contracted COVID and am not going to be able to fight next weekend.

"Preparing for this comeback has been everything to me over the last months, and I want to thank everyone for their tremendous support."

De La Hoya went on to explain he feels he will still be back and ready to fight before the end of 2021.

"I am currently in the hospital getting treatment and am confident I will be back in the ring before the year is up. God bless everyone and stay safe," a follow-up tweet read.

In the video itself, De La Hoya – who had a 39-6 record from his 45 professional fights – said: "I mean, what are the chances of me getting COVID?

"I've been taking care of myself. This really, really kicked my a**."

YouTube star-turned-boxer Jake Paul survived the biggest test he has faced inside the ring after withstanding former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.

Paul (4-0) was sent to the ropes by boxing debutant Woodley, who landed an overhand right in the fourth round to rattle the 24-year-old in Cleveland on Sunday.

However, Paul overcame the adversity to score a split decision 77-75, 78-74, 75-77 for his fourth professional boxing win.

"He's a tough opponent ... it was a tougher fight than I expected," Paul said afterwards. "My legs felt weird since the locker room, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

"All respect to Tyron, he's a tough opponent. This is a dream come true."

Paul was not happy one judge awarded the fight to Woodley, adding: "Let's be honest, that's bull****.

"Especially in my hometown. Like, where's that judge at? He hit me with one [real] shot the whole fight."

Woodley demanded a rematch post-bout, the 39-year-old saying: "I feel like I won the fight.

"F*** the Fury fight – me and Jake need to run that back. I want a rematch."

There has been talk of Paul facing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury's younger brother Tommy (7-0) in his next boxing bout.

But Paul said: "I haven't gone to the dentist, I haven't gotten my haircut. My teeth are crooked, my nose is crooked, I may need to chill out for a bit. I'm still only 24."

Kevin Durant and Draymond Green blamed Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and the franchise's management for mishandling the pair's infamous on-court spat, which led to the former leaving the team.

Durant and Green were involved in a heated verbal exchange against the Los Angeles Clippers in November 2018, with the argument reportedly continuing in the locker room post-game.

Green was suspended for one game by the Warriors as a result.

Durant eventually departed the Warriors via free agency at the end of the season, joining the Brooklyn Nets.

Warriors team-mates from 2016 to 2019 – winning two NBA championships, Durant and Green spoke about the incident.

"It wasn't the argument," Durant said on Bleacher Report show 'Chips' when asked how much the argument contributed in his decision to leave Golden State.

"It was the way that everybody -- Steve Kerr -- acted like it didn't happen. [General manager] Bob Myers tried to just discipline you [Green] and think that would put the mask over everything."

Green recalled: "'Y'all are about to f*** this up. I said, 'The only person that can make this right is me and K [Durant]. And there is nothing that y'all can do, and y'all are going to f*** this up.' And in my opinion, they f***** it up."

"I think so too," responded Durant, who averaged 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists with the Warriors in 2018-19 before suffering an Achilles injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Durant added: "I remember watching 'The Last Dance,' and when Scottie [Pippen] didn't go into the game, the whole team in the locker room said, 'Scottie, that was f***** up that you did that.'

"We needed that. We just needed to throw all of that s*** on the table and say, 'Yo Dray, K, that was f***** up that we even had to go through that.'

"Let's just wipe our hands with that and go finish the task. ... I didn't think we did that. We just tried to dance around it. I just didn't like, just the vibe between all of that, it just made s*** weird to me."

Germany's Olympic cycling sports director Patrick Moster has been banned for the rest of the year after making racist slurs about time-trial riders from Eritrea and Algeria.

The UCI, cycling's world governing body, announced the punishment on Friday, in the wake of Germany's national federation (BDR) doling out its own punishment.

Moster has been stripped of his duties at international level and taken an enforced pay cut. The BDR described Moster's comments as "a massive violation" of the values of the federation and cycling as a whole.

Moster urged German rider Nikias Arndt to "get the camel drivers" during the July 28 time trial at Tokyo 2020.

He has since apologised but is paying the consequences now, with the UCI taking action over comments it labelled as "discriminatory and contrary to the basic rules of decency".

The UCI said in a statement: "Mr Moster has since acknowledged before the disciplinary commission that he had committed a breach of the UCI regulations and agreed to the imposition of a suspension until 31 December 2021, during which time Mr Moster may not participate in any capacity in any competition or activity authorised or organised by the UCI, a continental confederation or a member national federation.

"The UCI underlines that the sanction imposed by the UCI disciplinary commission is in addition to the measures taken by Mr Moster's national federation, the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer.

"The UCI condemns all forms of racist and discriminatory behaviour and strives to ensure integrity, diversity and equality in cycling."

Elaine Thompson-Herah made history, while Karsten Warholm blasted the world record in the men's 400 metres hurdles in a frantic day of athletics action at Tokyo 2020.

Jamaican sprint star Thompson-Herah completed the 100m and 200m double becoming the first woman to defend each title at the Olympics having won both in Rio five years ago.

There was also a slice of history for Anita Wlodarczyk in the women's hammer and Athing Mu romped to victory in the 800m.

Here's a round-up of all the best action from the track and field on Tuesday.

THOMPSON-HERAH REIGNS AGAIN

It has been another Olympics to remember for Thompson-Herah, whose winning time of 21.53 seconds is the fastest ever in the women's 200m.

The 29-year-old stormed out of the bend and left her rivals trailing in her wake to take a commanding victory.

Christine Mboma of Namibia claimed the silver in a world under-20 record of 21.81 with Gabby Thomas of the United States completing the podium.

WARHOLM SMASHES RECORD IN RACE FOR THE AGES

Norwegian sensation Warholm absolutely destroyed his own 400m hurdles world record (46.70) with a blistering time of 45.94. Nearest rival Rai Benjamin himself posted a 46.17 to take silver.

"This is so crazy. It's by far the biggest moment of my life," two-time world champion Warholm said.

"I've been training like a f*****g maniac. I struggled to sleep last night because I had this special feeling in my chest. It's like the feeling I had as a six-year-old on Christmas Eve. I was so focused on getting that last medal in my collection and now it's all complete."

 

Also in the morning session, world champion Malaika Mihambo saved the best until last to win gold in the women's long jump.

American Brittney Reese, the 2012 Olympic champion, and Ese Brume of Nigeria had traded the lead through the first five rounds until Mihambo posted the only seven-metre jump of the competition at the sixth attempt (recording exactly 7m).

Reese finished in silver behind the German, with Brume taking the bronze.

MARVELLOUS MU TAKES 800m CROWN

Mu, the world leader over 800m this year, took up the lead almost immediately from the off and never looked back to come home in a time of 1:55.21 – setting a new American record in the process.

Keely Hodgkinson made a strong charge late in the race and set a new British benchmark of 1:55.88 to take silver.

A personal-best time of 1:56.81 from Raevyn Rogers meant the USA had two women on the podium.

HISTORY FOR WLODARCZYK AS DUPLANTIS REIGNS SUPREME

There was a sense of deja vu in the women's hammer as Wlodarczyk successfully defended the title she won at London 2012 and Rio 2016 – making her the first woman to win a trio of golds in the same discipline at three straight Games.

Her throw of 78.48m was a season's best. China's Wang Zheng took silver thanks to a 77.03m on her last throw, while Malwina Kopron of Poland was third with a 75.49m. Coincidentally the podium line-up was the same as the 2017 World Championships in London.

Mondo Duplantis lived up to his billing in the men's pole vault to win gold at his first Olympics by clearing a distance of 6.02m.

The Swede has broken the world record twice since winning silver at the World Championships in Doha two years ago, and had a crack at going to 6.19m here after it was confirmed he had won gold ahead of American Christopher Nilsen.

While he fell short there, Duplantis still fulfilled his dream of winning Olympic gold and, at 21, has plenty of time to try and beat his own benchmark.

DE GRASSE COASTS THROUGH, LYLES ALMOST PAYS THE PRICE

Fresh from winning bronze in the men's 100m, Canada's Andre De Grasse was fastest in the men's 200m with a Canadian record time of 19.73 seconds in the third semi-final.

World champion Noah Lyles is also into the final but eased up during his semi to finish outside the automatic spots and had to qualify as one of the fastest losers.

In the first round of the men's 110m hurdles, world champion Grant Holloway clocked a 13.02s – faster than the time needed to win gold at Rio 2016 and the fastest heat time of any competition in history.

Simone Biles has pulled out of Monday's floor final at the Tokyo Olympics, USA Gymnastics has announced.

There remains the possibility of the American gymnastics superstar competing in the beam event on Tuesday, yet that must also be in doubt.

Biles, who won four gold medals at the Rio Olympics five years ago, was expected to be a star of Japan's Games too.

However, she was involved in just one rotation of Tuesday's women's team final, in which she registered the lowest score, before sitting out the rest of that event.

It was later confirmed the 24-year-old would not defend the individual all-around title in order to focus on her mental health.

Biles then withdrew from the finals of the vault and uneven bars, and now she will be conspicuous by her absence again.

USA Gymnastics said in a statement: "Simone has withdrawn from the event final for floor and will make a decision on beam later this week. Either way, we're all behind you, Simone."

Biles posted on Instagram that she has "the best friends/support system", accompanying the message with a picture of herself alongside a friend from home, Kevin Waterman.

Waterman paid tribute to Biles with a message describing her as a "trailblazing, kick-ass inspiration".

He wrote: "A fortunate few get to see the real you and the genuine compassion, selflessness, and kindness you have. You've been there for me during some of my most vulnerable moments and because of that, you'll see me at my strongest. To put your own health and well being first shows true strength, growth, and self care. You’re the definition of leading by example.

"Thank you. Thank you for being you, for staying true to yourself, for always being there, and for setting a better example than any medal ever could. You continue to be a barrier breaking, odd defying, trailblazing, kick-ass inspiration. The love I have for you is endless and I'll forever be thankful for your friendship. Through thick and thin, I'll always have your back!"

One-third of John Isner's 15 career ATP titles have come at the Atlanta Open and the American will play for another Sunday against an up-and-coming countryman. 

Isner defeated Tayor Fritz 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-3 on Saturday to reach his first ATP Tour final this year after losing in the semis three times. 

One of those semi-final setbacks came last week in Los Cabos to Brandon Nakashima, who will be Isner's opponent Sunday. 

The 19-year-old Californian, ranked a career-best 115th, rallied to beat Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori 3-6 6-4 6-3 in the other semi. 

Nakashima defeated top seed Milos Raonic earlier this week and is riding high as he looks for his first ATP title. 

He is the first US teenager to reach the final in consecutive weeks since 18-year-old Andy Roddick won his first two ATP tournaments at Atlanta and Houston in the spring of 2001. 

Roddick's maiden title came in an earlier version of the Atlanta event. Since it was revived in 2010, Isner has won five of the 10 titles, with the first coming in 2013 about a week before Nakashima's 12th birthday.

"I didn’t know much about [Nakashima] prior to last week," Isner told the ATP's website. "But he kicked my ass last week, so we’ll see what I can do tomorrow.

"He’s 19 years old, that’s crazy. I was fishing on a boat when I was 19, here he is in the final of an ATP event.”

Max Verstappen has angrily hit out at the continued questioning he and Lewis Hamilton are receiving after their Silverstone clash.

Hamilton, who is on pole for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, received a controversial 10-second time penalty having collided with title rival Verstappen on the opening lap at the British Grand Prix last time out.

But while Verstappen was forced to retire from the race and sent to hospital for checks, Hamilton recovered from his punishment and went on to record a famous win that reignited his labouring championship bid.
 
A fierce war of words followed as Red Bull criticised Hamilton and race stewards for what had transpired.

But two weeks on in Hungary, Verstappen has been unimpressed at repeated questions on the matter.

He then hit out when he was asked after qualifying how he and Hamilton would approach the start of this race if they end up wheel-to-wheel once more.

Standings leader Verstappen, who starts third behind Valtteri Bottas and ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, cut off the question at a news conference for the top three drivers.

"Can we just already stop about this because we've had so many f*****g questions about this," he said

"It's just ridiculous, honestly. The whole Thursday we've been answering this stupid s**t all the time. 

"So can we just stop about it please? We are racers. We will race. And, of course, we are going to race hard but fair. We'll just be pushing each other."

As the fallout from the British GP incident continues, Hamilton was booed by the Hungary crowd during qualifying and after recording the fastest time on Saturday.

The Mercedes driver told fans at the circuit they had "fuelled" his success as he seeks a 100th career Formula One win.

Asked about the booing, Verstappen said: "What do you want me to say? It is not correct, of course, but at the end of the day I think we are drivers. 

"We shouldn't get disturbed by these kind of things. You should anyway just focus on what you have to do and that's deliver in the car. 

"Luckily we wear helmets actually when driving. When it matters you don't hear anything. That's maybe a bit different to other sports, probably we are quite lucky with that.

"Of course, it's not nice but it shouldn't influence any of us. I think we are all very professional."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was in a jovial mood after his team's qualifying success and he was shown Verstappen's comments as part of an interview with Sky Sports.

Asked what he thought would happen at the first corner, he joked fifth-placed Pierre Gasly could be primed to benefit from another Mercedes-Red Bull clash.

"Let’s see what happens, I think it's going to be an exciting start," Wolff said.

"Maybe Gasly leads after turn one and all four cars are out! 

"I'm just joking, I hope not. But it will be an exciting turn one and for sure from the strategy, we will see some interesting manoeuvres.

"But if I start teaching my drivers about how to approach turn one, it has actually completely gone off the rails.

"It [the rivalry] is exciting. You guys and everybody needs headlines and that keeps the sport interesting. It keeps stitching us up! But none of them has lost respect for each other, so let's see what happens."

Verstappen's lead in the standings has been cut to eight points, while Red Bull are just four clear in the constructors' championship.

Adam Peaty revealed he has gone through "breakdowns" and has had to hide emotions from his family after becoming a double Olympic champion.

It was another dominant performance from world-record holder Peaty in the 100 metres breaststroke at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, with a time of 57.37 – the fifth fastest in history – enough for him to make history as the first British swimmer to defend an Olympics title.

Peaty is unbeaten in the event in seven years and only one other swimmer has ever breached the 58-second mark – that being silver medallist Arno Kamminga.

Despite his dominance, Peaty spoke about the challenges he has faced, with the 26-year-old having become a father to his son George within the past year.

He said: "It's been a heavy investment. A lot has changed this last year, more than the last five. Becoming a father, buying my first house and some days when I woke up and was like 'this is hard, this is really hard'.

"There's been so many challenges, so many challenges and f*****g some breakdowns as well. 

"It's like 'what am I doing every single day? Why am I training three times a day, giving it everything for this swim?'.

"I've hidden a lot of emotion from my own family, I've hidden a lot of stress and a lot of those moments where I was like 'this is very, very hard'.

"The 99.9 per cent of time that we spend in the dark is for the 0.01 per cent we spend in light."

Having made history, Peaty was asked how much longer he foresees himself staying in the pool, with the Paris Games three years away.

"I think of sport very simply, as soon as I stop having fun I'll stop, I'm still having fun, I have a lot of fun with my boy, I have a lot of fun at home and having a normal life too," he added.

"It's such a big decision, it's a family decision now, not just me being a selfish athlete because we have to be selfish but we'll have that conversation when we're home. 

"Obviously, we're targeting Paris anyway, anything after that is a bonus really. It's about how young you keep your mind, sport is getting faster, the world is getting faster, you have to take that in to consideration too.

"It depends what else is out there, if I can inspire people in other ways I'll probably do that. But I live in the present."

"Some days you've just got to attack the f*****g mountain, that's as simple as it is."

Those were the words of Adam Peaty during his pre-camp for Tokyo 2020. And boy has he attacked that mountain.

Five years ago, Peaty broke new ground to become an Olympic champion for the first time in Rio and set in motion a Team GB gold rush that would see them ultimately finish second in the medal table.

On this occasion, there was no world record – the only thing that is sure to secretly irritate this perfectionist who revels in finding new ways to push the limits of what is humanly possible – but not for the first time Peaty obliterated the competition to once again win Olympic gold in the 100 metres breaststroke.se

Whether his success can have the same sort of rousing effect on Team GB, only time will tell.

What is more certain is that Peaty must surely now be considered among the pantheon of Olympic greats.

At one stage in 2021, the 26-year-old was in possession of the 20 fastest 100m breaststroke times in history. It is mind-boggling dominance.

When the great Usain Bolt used to race there was a real awe about the way in which he had his opponents beaten by the time he was on the start line. It was mesmerising watching the sprint king, who just seemed to defy logic.

Peaty in the pool exudes a similar feeling. To witness this phenomenon in person is some experience. If you blink you might miss him.

Following his victory in the heats on Sunday, Peaty described Tokyo 2020 as "weird" without the crowds – with fans of course absent due to the coronavirus pandemic – and conceded it did "not feel like an Olympics".

He does have a point. Peaty's moment of triumph came on a day where Ariarne Titmus defeated Katie Ledecky in an epic to clinch the women's 400m freestyle – a race that really did deserve a full house – and Caeleb Dressel, tipped as an heir to American great Michael Phelps, won the first of what is likely to be multiple gold medals at these Games.

Such stars deserve a captivated audience. The cheers of their team-mates offered only slight consolation that their moments of glory are taking place in surreal circumstances.

But there is nothing strange now about seeing Peaty dominate in the pool and while the circumstances compared to his first crowning moment in Brazil could scarcely be more different, he continues to enhance his status as a supreme champion.

His latest victory was a moment of history – no British swimmer had ever defended an Olympic title before. Only three other swimmers from Britain have ever won multiple golds, and he is just the second man to defend the 100m breaststroke title after Japan's Kosuke Kitajima.

When you think of the great athletes Britain has produced – Steve Redgrave, Kelly Holmes, Chris Hoy, Laura Kenny, Jason Kenny – all belong in the category of elite Olympians.

That Peaty now too belongs in that same category is not even a debate. He is a cool competitor, but he is also a ferocious one. A contemplator, a thinker, a man who self-described himself as "liberated" by the circumstances of the past year, time that saw him become a father and learn to appreciate the important things in life as lockdowns and restrictions became the norm for us all.

What is scary is that you feel there is still new ground for Peaty, unbeaten in his event since 2014, to break.

Speaking prior to the Games, Peaty opened up about what makes him the athlete he is.

"It sounds very cliche but I'm very obsessed with continual improvement and pushing the boundaries of what's possible," he said then. 

"I don't want to end my career and go 'oh I could have done that or I should have done this'. It's that relationship with the team that makes me that person. But I think it's also I just love to race, I love to scrap and I like to dominate. That's why I swim, that's why I race it gives me something I can't get in normal life."

And even now with all he has achieved there still seems to be an unquenchable thirst to be the best, no taking the foot off the gas in a continued desire to go where no one has been before.

"No one is invincible, everyone can be beaten," he told a news conference following his victory in Tokyo.

"I'm a firm believer in that. If I didn't believe in that I wouldn't have the world record, it's about setting no limits. 

"Today could have gone either way. It's a morning final, you saw it this morning with such a close race with Ledecky and Titmus, it could have gone either way.

"Everyone is beatable, it's who wants it more and who is invested more in those races."

For most, owning the world record and becoming a double Olympic champion would be well beyond the pinnacle of the mountain.

For Peaty, it seems certain he will just keep on f*****g attacking it.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants produced an MLB first as a controversial end to the latest series in their historic rivalry left ejected manager Dave Roberts apoplectic.

Dodgers manager Roberts sprinted to confront first-base umpire Ed Hickox in the ninth inning after he ruled Darin Ruf did not swing on a pitch outside the strike zone on a full 3-2 count with two men out and the bases loaded, awarding the Giants a walk that tied the game at 3-3.

Los Angeles thought the game was over moments earlier when Jason Vosler was ruled to have been thrown out at second base, only for the umpires to rule him safe on review, with Sheldon Neuse unable to keep his foot on the bag as he caught Chris Taylor's throw, meaning Thairo Estrada's groundball trimmed the Dodgers' lead to 3-2.

Hickox's contentious decision followed, setting up LaMonte Wade Jr to give the Giants a 5-3 lead with the next at-bat with a two-run single to right field.

The Giants held on to that advantage to take a three-game lead over the Dodgers in the National League West, with Los Angeles left to pick up the pieces after a third successive blown save from closer Kenley Jansen and his second in as many nights against San Francisco.

San Francisco prevailed 3-1 in the four-game series, which is the first in the modern era to have three games in which the team trailing in the ninth inning scored three runs to win, according to Stats Perform data. The Dodgers scored three runs in the last to emerge victorious on Tuesday, before the Giants scored three on Wednesday and four on Thursday to solidify their grip on the division.

But that piece of league history will have been of no interest to a furious Roberts.

"There's no doubt in my mind that he went [around and swung] and the game should have been over," Roberts said. "Eddie's a very good umpire, been around a long time. But in that spot, two contending teams, you just can't miss that call.

"The game should have been over and there's no other way to look at it.

"There's a lot of people that are really p****d off and I'm leading the way. We should have won that game. It's a game we really wanted, we had and we didn't. The game should have been over, man. I don't think the blame should be all on Kenley at all.

"I thought that play at second base, if we stretch, he's out and the game's over. The checked swing, the game's over and we're not having this conversation. I'm not reconsidering his [Jansen's] role."

Ruf, meanwhile, was able to reflect on the turning point with a smile.

"At that point, I'm just trying to have a good at-bat," Ruf said. "The 2-0 pitch was probably outside, but those things happen throughout the course of an at-bat. You just have to move on.

"After I got to 2-2, I just really wanted to see a pitch in the middle. He has three pretty good pitches and luckily I laid off the 2-2. The 3-2 was kind of a high backup cutter and luckily that call went our way.

"I'm just thinking, 'Please say I didn't go [and swing]. I think at full speed it was really, really close.

"Luckily that call went our way tonight and then LaMonte came up huge."

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