Aquatics / Olympics

Proud says ‘real job’ starts now after reaching Olympic semi-final

BEN PROUD says the ‘real job’ starts now after progressing through to the semi-finals of the men’s 50m freestyle event at the Tokyo Olympics.

Proud, who has won world, European and Commonwealth titles, has yet to win an Olympic medal. He was agonisingly fourth at the Rio Games.

But his bid for Olympic glory in Japan did not get off to the most convincing of starts on Friday, only qualifying 13th in a strong 50m event, where 16 swimmers went under 22 seconds.

Proud clocked 21.93 seconds, but he knows there is more to come as his PB is 21.11, which ranks him as one of the fastest in the field.

“That heat was okay,” said Proud. “I’ve made it through which is what you need to do – but at the same time, it’s about tomorrow morning, get through the rounds and put in my best performance.

“Having been watching the guys, medals coming more and more often, for me, I want to get into my race now. Now’s the real job, go get rested, prepare well for the morning and then do my best to make it through.”

Proud has had a frustrating wait to compete in Tokyo.

“We planned for this,” he said. “We expected to stay back at the holding camp for an extra week. As much as that’s great to do, I really now need to get into the meet, pick up performances and treat it like an Olympics.”

Meanwhile, Laura Stephens will not get the chance to compete in the women’s medley relay.

Stephens had swam the butterfly leg to help Great Britain win the European Championship gold medal in May, but she did not swim the heats at the Olympics on Friday and the British team missed out by one place on reaching the final.

But former Mount Kelly pupil Federico Burdisso will get the chance to add another medal to the bronze he won in the men’s 200m butterfly after helping Italy into the final of the men’s medley relay where they will go head-to-head with Team GB.

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