PLYMOUTH Leander’s Ben Proud sensationally won the world 50m butterfly title in Budapest on Monday evening.
The 22-year-old former Plymouth College pupil kept his nerve in a tight race to touch first and claim his first global medal.
Proud, who has spent the last few months training in Turkey with James Gibson following Jon Rudd’s move to Ireland, clocked a new British record time of 22.75 seconds to win. Brazil’s Nicholas Santos took second in 22.79 and Ukraine’s Andrii Govorov bronze in 22.84.
Surprisingly American Caeleb Dressel and Olympic 100m champion Joseph Schooling both missed out on medals.
Proud’s success follows on from that of his former Plymouth College team-mate Tom Daley, who won 10m world diving gold on Saturday, and Plymouth cricketer Heather Knight captaining England to the Women’s World Cup glory on Sunday.
Proud, who frustratingly finished fourth in last year’s Olympic 50m freestyle final, was lost for words after his win in Hungary.
“I really don’t know what to say,” he said immediately after his swim. “I am on the verge of tears.
“It has been a dream since I was six years old. It is hard to put it into words.”
Proud, who still swims for Leander despite training in Turkey, will have another chance for a medal when he competes in the 50m freestyle event at the end of the week.
Another former Plymouth College pupil Ruta Meilutyte qualified third fastest for the women’s 100m breaststroke final.
The 2012 Olympic champion and world record holder clocked 1:05.06 in her semi-final.
Controversial Russian Yuliya Efimova was the fastest qualifier, just missing Meilutyte’s world record of 1:04.35 by one-hundredth of a second. That final will take place on Tuesday evening.