PLYMOUTH Leander’s Ben Proud just missed out on winning an Olympic medal in Rio in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The 21-year-old University of St Mark and St John student finished fourth in an incredibly close men’s 50m freestyle final.
Proud clocked 21.68 seconds, which was just 0.14 seconds outside his new British record he had set in the semi-finals.
Veteran American Anthony Ervin, 35, won gold in a time of 21.40 seconds, with France’s Florent Manadou second in 21.41 and America’s Nathan Adrian third in 21.49.
Proud did beat Ukraine’s Andrii Govorov to finish as the second European. He was also first Commonwealth athlete.
It was Proud’s best performance at a global event, having finished eighth at last year’s World Championships.
The Plymouth swimmer was the youngest in the final, with all the athletes in front of him at least four years older than him, which will give him hope for the next Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
On the frustration of finishing fourth, Proud said: “It is what it is. It’s the toughest competition in the world and fourth in better than fifth and fifth is better than sixth.
“I’m really chuffed with that. It wasn’t a great swim, but even my fastest would not have got me in the medals.”
Double Commonwealth Games champion Proud, making his Olympic debut in Brazil, says his experience and performances in Rio have motivated him for the future.
“The Olympics are every four years so it is a long time to wait for the next one, but I feel really motivated,” he said.
“Going into the next couple of years I am really going to focus on the 50. I’m just really excited to see what is going to happen in the future.”