Ben Proud spoke of his “really special” moment after ending Great Britain’s wait for gold at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest.
Proud claimed the 50m freestyle title in 21.32 seconds, ahead of Michael Andrew (21.41) of the United States and France’s Maxime Grousset (21.57).
“To come top of the podium, it’s really special,” said Proud, 27, who had carried the tag of race favourite following Olympic champion Caeleb Dressel’s withdrawal from the competition.
“If you said at the start of the week I was going to win this, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m thrilled.”
Fellow Briton Lewis Burras finished seventh as Proud again showed his liking for swimming in Budapest.
Proud had pulled off a shock 50m butterfly win at the World Championships in the same pool five years ago.
He said: “Budapest is a beautiful place, great fans and (I am) really chuffed.
“This is a medal for everyone back at home. Everyone who has got me past the last 12 months – I just have to say thank you to everyone.
“It was a great race and great field; really happy with that.”
American Katie Ledecky won her fifth consecutive 800m freestyle world title.
Ledecky’s time of eight minutes 8.04 seconds was four seconds faster than her gold medal time at the Tokyo Olympic Games last year and the fifth fastest of all time.
“It’s always hard, you want it to hurt, especially at the end of the week,” said Ledecky, who now has a tally of 22 medals across five World Championships since 2013 after her fourth Budapest gold.
“I’m really happy with that result and really excited for the future.”
Ledecky had already won two individual gold medals this week in both the 400m and 1500m freestyle, plus a team title with the USA in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
Australia set a new world record of three minutes 19.38 seconds in the final of the mixed 4x100m freestyle. Great Britain finished fourth, just over three seconds back.
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom took the women’s 50m butterfly gold medal for the fourth time in a row, while Hungarian swimmer Kristof Milak delighted the home crowd by wining the men’s 100m butterfly.
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