Ben Proud bounces back from disqualification to take Commonwealth Games swimming gold

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Four years on from being disqualified in the 50metres butterfly at the last Commonwealth Games, Ben Proud sealed England’s first swimming gold of Birmingham 2022.

The London-born 27-year-old got off to a far better start than he had done in the event at the World Championships in Budapest earlier this summer in which he finished seventh.

At Sandwell Aquatics Centre, he led from start to finish to get the touch in a Games record of 22.81seconds.

After winning gold, he said: “Eight years ago, I won this competition. Four years I felt like it was taken away from me. Now I’ve come in and got the Games record.

“It’s been a tough one. And this is for everyone who’s helped me through my journey. It might just be another medal but it’s very special to me.”

Proud had been the form athlete going into the race having dominated the heats and having won world gold in the 50m freestyle at the Worlds in Budapest. He has a chance later in these Games for a second individual gold in that discipline.

Teammate Imogen Clark came close to making it two gold medals in the space of a few minutes as she led for much of the 50m butterfly only be overhauled by pre-race favourite Lara van Niekerk in the final few strokes.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Her silver was still a national record, and came nine years after having to be rescued from the bottom of the pool after suffering an epileptic fit. She defied the advice of both doctors and her mother to continue swimming, and has to take two tablets a day to keep the seizures at bay.

Following her silver, she said: “I can’t get much closer. What a race. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It was great to see Ben win and hear the crowd.”

The men’s 200m freestyle was a repeat of the Olympic final as British teammates and close friends Tom Dean and Duncan Scott went head to head as they had done at the Tokyo Olympics.

In Japan, Dean had the edge but in a role reversal the English swimmer was upstaged by his Scottish rival as they completed another high-profile one-two.

Scott then returned to the pool an hour later for the final of the 400m individual medley where he finished third behind gold medallist Lewis Clareburt for New Zealand in a Games record just ahead of Australia’s Brendon Smith.

“It’s a real tough double,” said Scott, who had recently recovered from Covid. “The schedule doesn’t quite work in my favour. I struggled with Covid but the last four or five weeks have been great.”

In a blanket finish to the men’s 100m backstroke, England’s Brodie Williams shattered his lifetime best but agonisingly was edged out of gold by South Africa’s Pieter Coetze but just one tenth of a second.

And there were silver medals for England in both the men’s and women’s 4x100m freestyle relays.

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