Piers Morgan’s at it again on mental health – this time over Adam Peaty

Piers Morgan’s at it again on mental health – this time over Adam Peaty

Piers Morgan doesn’t seem to be able to keep his nose out of the mental health struggles of top athletes, to the point that it’s starting to feel like an unhealthy obsession.

Just days after the former GMB host criticised against US gymnast Simone Biles over her withdrawal from three Tokyo Olympics finals, he turned his attention to one of Britain’s top swimmers.

Adam Peaty won two golds and a silver at Tokyo 2020, including retaining his men’s 100 metres breaststroke title. However, following his stunning victories, he announced that he would take a month-long break from the pool in a bid to prioritise his mental health.

The 26-year-old from Uttoxeter tweeted in the early hours of Monday: “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.”

He added that being an elite sportsperson “isn’t a normal job” and involves a “huge amount of pressure.”

But Morgan, 56, seemed to dismiss his plight in his own Twitter post, comparing the stresses felt by sporting stars to that of surgeons performing complex procedures on infants.

He wrote: “I love Peaty and he’s a great champion but we do need some perspective about sporting pressure. As an ENT (ears, nose and throat) doctor in LA once told me during a round of golf when I said he had a big pressure putt: ‘Real pressure is performing emergency tracheotomies on babies.’”

(A tracheotomy is when an opening is cut in the neck to form an airway for those who can’t breath on their own or are having difficulties breathing.)

His comments were met with widespread condemnation on the platform, with Gary Lineker among those challenging his assessment.

The ‘Match of the Day’ presenter wrote in response:

But in a reply to the footballing legend, Morgan doubled-down on his diagnosis, tweeting:

Meanwhile, here’s how other users reacted to the 56-year-old’s remarks:

The outspoken commentator isn’t the only person to question Peaty’s decision, as the Olympian lamented in his own Twitter thread.

After news of his planned break emerged, he wrote: “Reading some of the comments in response to this is why we have such a stigma around mental wellbeing in sport.”

He added in a separate post: “Unfortunately there are people out there who think they know you more than you know yourself.”

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Peaty cited Biles’s personal battles, and those of England cricketer Ben Stokes, as he emphasised the importance of striking a balance between ambition and wellbeing.

“It’s been hard for everyone, for every sport out there," he told the paper. "It’s been very very tiring. I think what’s next is celebrating and having what Mel (Marshall, his coach) and me call a forced rest, where we’re not allowed to touch the water for a month now.”

He continued: “You’re seeing it with Simone Biles. You’re seeing it with Ben Stokes. Mental health matters and it is about getting the balance right at that elite level. We love to celebrate, and why shouldn’t we?”

It comes after Morgan was accused of hypocrisy over his treatment of the different athletes who have opened up about struggling with depression and other psychological issues.

Having tweeted in response to Biles’s Olympic exit: "Are 'mental health issues' now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport? ,” he refrained from any criticism of Stokes, 30, following his personal announcement.

When one commentator asked the broadcaster for his stance on the cricketer’s decision to take time off, he said he felt sure the England star would share his opinion.

He wrote: “I’m sure Ben Stokes wouldn’t call his decision to pull out of the massive India Test series ‘tremendously courageous’, ‘inspiring’ or ‘heroic’, as some are saying.”

This was a reference to his earlier tweets and MailOnline column about Biles in which he claimed that athletes who “lost or quit” are “now deemed more courageous, inspiring and heroic” than those who don’t.

Morgan went on to pay tribute to the 30-year-old, saying: “England will be weaker without him and I hope he’s back for the Ashes.”

When another questioned if he would say to Stokes that “you have let down your team-mates, your fans and your country” – words used in the headline for his Mail Online piece – Morgan replied: “If he quit in the middle of a test match with no physical injury, leaving his teammates in the lurch like Simon Biles [sic] did, and complained he wasn’t having enough ‘fun’, then I would have said that.”

Scores of commentators were quick to point out the disparity in stances, including the BBC’s Dan Walker, who wrote:

Others were more explicit in their criticism of Morgan:

Elsewhere in the now infamous Mail Online article, Morgan likened Biles to Naomi Osaka – a previous subject of his disdain.

“Now we have Simone Biles being saluted as ‘iconic’ for quitting, and even citing Naomi Osaka as her inspirational spirit animal for doing so,” he wrote.

“Well sorry if it offends all the howling Twitter snowflake virtue-signallers, but I don’t think it’s remotely courageous, heroic or inspiring to quit.”

Last month, the 56-year-old hit out at the tennis star after she announced that she would no longer take part in press conferences or interviews.

The sportswoman explained that her decision was a bid to protect her mental health, revealing that she had suffered constant bouts of depression since winning her first grand slam title three years ago.

But Morgan instantly dismissed her deeply personal admission, accusing her – in another column for the Daily Mail – of “playing the mental health card” and branding her an “arrogant spoiled brat whose fame and fortune appears to have inflated her ego to gigantic proportions”.

The outspoken broadcaster dismissed any suggestion that his criticism was based on sexism or racism, responding to one critic at the time: “What does her skin colour have to do with it? I’d have written the same column if Naomi Osaka was white. For you to now play the race card to attack and silence any perfectly justified criticism of her behaviour is shameful.”

In his column on Biles he harkened back to the backlash, writing: “Nobody now dares criticise Naomi Osaka, and if you try, as I’ve done, you get branded a sexist racist douchebag.”

In Wednesday’s comment piece he also couldn’t resist taking aim at his ultimate nemesis: the Duchess of Sussex, describing her as “the person who more than any other has fuelled this cynical new phenomenon of shutting down legitimate criticism by disingenuously playing the mental health and race cards.”

He also had a dig at 18-year-old tennis player Emma Raducanu who dropped out of Wimbledon at the start of the month, saying dismissively that she had “some kind of panic attack” but “would probably have lost the match anyway”.

His fresh diatribes prompted scores of commentators to point out a discrepancy in his treatment of different public figures:

But Morgan shows no sign of taking their observations on board, instead making a controversial joke following the latest twist in Biles’s Tokyo journey.

On Monday, USA Gymnastics confirmed that the 24-year-old star would make a dramatic return to the Olympics by competing in the women’s beam final on Tuesday.

Biles has not competed since she withdrew early in the women’s team final last week. Afflicted by a phenomenon known as the “twisties” – essentially a temporary struggle with spatial awareness – Biles pulled out of the first three of the four individual finals for which she had qualified.

However, she has been named as the third of eight starters in the beam final, for which she qualified in seventh place last Sunday.

USA Gymnastics tweeted: “We are so excited to confirm that you will see two US athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow – Suni Lee and Simone Biles!!”

In response, Morgan mockingly claimed credit, suggesting his insistance that she shouldn’t have quit compelled her to press ahead.

He tweeted:

If there was a gold medal for provocation and rubbing up people the wrong way, we know who’d win it, hands down.

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