SINGAPORE’S Joseph Schooling missed out on a podium finish as Malaysia-schooled Brit Ben Proud won a surprise gold in the 50m butterfly at the World Aquatics Championships.
Schooling had targeted gold in the event after breaking both the national and Asian records twice at the weekend – in the heats and semi-finals.
But he and America’s Caeleb Dressel – Schooling’s former Bolles School team-mate – both missed out on the medals despite Dressel being the fastest qualifier.
Proud, 22, was born in London but raised in Malaysia, where he attended the Alice Smith School in Kuala Lumpur from kindergarten until leaving for the UK at 16 to pursue his swimming career.
He won the final in Budapest, Hungary, in a time of 22.75 seconds, pushing 37-year-old Brazilian Nicholas Santos into the silver position, and Ukraine’s Andriy Hovorov into bronze.
Proud, who still regularly returns to Malaysia to visit friends and family, said: “At first I didn’t realise I had won.
“I was waiting for someone else to start celebrating, but when no one did, I looked on the scoreboard and saw my name on top.
“It’s a weird feeling, this is something I’ve dreamt of since I started swimming.”
That Dressel (22.89 seconds) and Schooling (22.95) both finished outside the medals was something of a surprise. But the Singaporean – Olympic champion in the 100m fly in Rio last year – has vowed to return stronger over the next few days.
He is due to compete in both the 100m freestyle as well as his main event – the 100m fly.
“This will spur me on even more to achieve better results for my next two events,” he said.
“I didn’t train for the 50 fly. The 50 is merely a gauge of how good my 100 is going to be, so from that race, I’m very pleased with my result.
“I will go back, get over it and learn from the race. That’s part of racing, that’s fine.”