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Ben Proud is enjoying the kind of purple patch most swimmers can only dream of after adding Commonwealth gold to the world title he claimed in Hungary last month.
Eight years after he announced himself on the international scene by winning double gold at Glasgow 2014, Proud was back on the top step of the podium, claiming Team England’s first gold in the pool in the 50m butterfly.
In Budapest at the World Championships, he finally achieved his ambition of becoming the fastest man in water by winning the 50m freestyle, but you sensed that this success meant even more.
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He said: “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.
“I walked into this event eight years ago and walked away with a 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 to take that gold back into my hands, that's something I'm extremely grateful for.”
Swimming is such a gruelling sport, all those hours spent putting in the lengths in training, so longevity is rare.
Now 27, Proud has proved the exception, and a year after a disappointing Olympic Games, he has bounced back in style.
He broke the Games record with a time of 22.81, a full four tenths faster than his closest competitor, and he will now look to double up in the 50m freestyle in which he will also be favourite.
And having come close to calling it a day after Tokyo, Proud was clearly in reflective mood over what he has achieved in a matter of weeks this summer.
He added: “I've dedicated my life to swimming and the sport in a way that probably few people have. This is the achievement I can take away and say that I've done for the rest of my life and be happy with.
“I can't say I'll be here in four years to retain that title again, who knows. But to me, this was my legacy swim and I've done it. I'm looking forward to the freestyle now.”
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