Happy Ben Proud ends ‘weird year’ on a high with world championships gold

Sprint specialist Ben Proud said he was happy to walk away from a ‘weird year’ for himself with a world championships gold medal.

Proud triumphed in the splash and dash 50m Freestyle final in a time of 20.45 – 0.25 seconds clear of America’s Ryan Held, with Canada’s Joshua Liendo Edwards third in 20.76.

It was the first medal for the British Swimming team at the 15th FINA World Championships (25m) in Abu Dhabi on the fourth day of the competition.

A delighted Proud said: “It was great competition to race against and I’m really happy to execute the race I wanted when it mattered.

“I’m really pleased to add that title to my name and I’m just really happy. 

Ben Proud is congratulated by Ryan Held after winning the 50m Freestyle at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m)

“It’s been a weird year for me so I’m just happy to walk away from 2021 with a medal around my neck and go back home, see family for Christmas and just finish the year off 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.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Molly Renshaw set a new British record as she qualified for the 100m Breaststroke final.

She finished fourth in her semi-final in a time of 1:04.43 to knock 0.29 seconds off her previous best of 1:04.72 set in Budapest, Hungary, in November 2020.

It ensured Renshaw qualified sixth fastest for the 100m final, which takes place on Monday 20 December.