BEN PROUD put his Olympic disappointment behind him this weekend to become a world champion.
The former Plymouth College pupil comfortably took victory in the men’s 50m freestyle event at the World Short Course Championships in Abu Dhabi.
Proud clocked 20.45 seconds – just 0.05 off his own British record – to finish a quarter-of-a-second ahead of American Ryan Held, who took silver.
His dominant performance was the ideal way to end a year that saw him claim 50m freestyle silver at the European Championships before frustratingly narrowly missing out on the Olympic podium in Tokyo.
“There’s lots to be happy with,” said Proud. “There’s been a lot of racing over the last few days and even warming up today, my body wasn’t the same as it usually is. I needed to be a bit more careful and gentle than usual but, with the team around me, we’ve managed it really well.
“I’m really surprised with that time, I wasn’t expecting so much and that’s a big stepping stone for me.
“I was really upset with the Olympics and how it went, I can’t lie about that – but to finish off like this is a little surprise I didn’t expect and I can go home now with a nice medal around my neck, see family, see friends and enjoy myself.
“Looking ahead to next year, after the Olympics, there’s no pressure but I want to be on the podium at every event.
“I have a lot to learn and take away from this and for me I’ve learned so much about myself, racing so much. I can’t wait to come into the new year with less pressure. It was a tough year so to come through and do the best I can, will be great.”