Proud back on form to virtually secure his place at the Tokyo Olympics

BEN PROUD produced an impressive display at the British trials to almost certainly book his place at his second Olympic Games.

The Plymouth Leander swimmer, who finished fourth at the Rio Olympics in 2016, stormed to victory in the 50m freestyle final on Saturday night in London in an impressive time of 21.42 seconds.

That was the second fastest time in the world this year – just 0.01 of a second behind Russian Vladimir Morozo – and shows the double Commonwealth champion is back to his best.

Proud, former world champion over the 50m butterfly, was 0.68 of a second ahead of any of his British rivals on the one length ‘splash-and-dash’ race and well inside the consideration time for this summer’s Olympic Games.

The former Plymouth College pupil admits he has decided to just concentrate on the 50m freestyle ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“It’s a different one this year as I’ve taken away the 100m freestyle,” said Proud. “That’s normally something to get into the competition with – but with Olympics this year, I really want to hone in on that 50m.”

Proud was so close to a medal at the Rio Olympics, finishing fourth, and it is the only gong missing from his collection having won world, European and Commonwealth titles.

“The last Olympics was my first on so it was all quite new,” said the former European champion. “But I’ve had a host of experience since then, so I’m looking to do the best I can, do the best work going into it and then we’ll see what happens.

“The 50m is a short race, but there’s lots to think about. We work on details every single day – I’ve always had a passion for it – and it pays off.”

There was an impressive bronze medal for Leander’s 18-year-old backstroke specialist Honey Osrin on Saturday evening.

She took third in a strong 200m backstroke final, finishing behind the more experienced Kathleen Dawson and Cassie Wild. Orsin, a European junior medallist, clocked 2:11.76.

Team-mate Tom Beeley reached the final of the men’s 100m butterfly final where he finished sixth in 54.51 seconds.

Mount Kelly’s Erin Little was not too far away from reaching the final of the women’s 100m freestyle. The youngster clocked 57.19 to finish 11th in the heats, with Emily Haines 16th in 58.00.

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