BEN PROUD admitted reclaiming the Commonwealth Games men’s 50m butterfly title in Birmingham on Saturday evening was particularly special for him.
The 27-year-old former Plymouth College pupil, who last month became world 50m freestyle champion, broke his own Games record with a 22.81 swim at the newly-built Sandwell Aquatics Centre to claim England’s first gold medal in the pool.
The Commonwealth Games 50m butterfly title was Proud’s first major international gold medal of his career when he won it as a teenager eight years ago in Glasgow. But he was controversially denied the chance to retain that title in Australia in 2018.
Proud was disqualified four years ago for supposedly twitching on the starting block in the heats of that event on the Gold Coast.
But he made up for that on Saturday evening in Birmingham to add yet another medal to his impressive collection.
“It’s a weird one, on paper it’s just another gold medal but to me this is an eight-year legacy that I’ve just completed,” said Proud, who has 20 major medals to his name.
“I walked into this event eight years ago and walked away with the gold almost not knowing what I’d done. Four years later I got disqualified and felt like I was held back from retaining that title.
“So to be able to come back four years later after a lengthy career, after some highs and lows, and take that gold back into my hands – that’s something that I’m extremely grateful for.
“I’ve dedicated my life to swimming and to the sport in a way that probably not many people have and this to me is the kind of achievement that I can take away and say that I’ve done for the rest of my life.
“I can’t say I’ll be here in four years’ time to retain that title again, who knows, but to me this was my legacy swim and I’ve done it and I’m looking forward to the freestyle now.”
Proud achieved the 50m double in Glasgow and wants to do the same in Birmingham. If he could win the 50m freestyle he would make history by becoming the first person to win that event three times in a row. Proud will begin the defence of his freestyle crown on Tuesday.