Commonwealth Games 2014: Proud day for Britain as home nations enjoy a night to remember in the pool

Ben Proud beats two of Australia’s best young freestylers to snatch dramatic gold in 50m freestyle

tollcross swimming centre

Pride restored. Australia ended on top of the podium in the pool, the men and women in the golden caps having spent much of six raucously supported days collecting gold, but in between there were enough home-made successes to suggest British swimming has its head above water once again.

The reinvigorating collective performance of the British swimmers here was personified by Ben Proud. The Englishman arrived in Glasgow with no great ambitions of winning medals, yet sped past two of Australia’s best young freestylers, James Magnussen and Cameron McEvoy, to snatch a dramatic gold in the 50m freestyle. Then as if to underline the point, England’s 100m medley relay quartet stunned the Australians to take the final gold.

It was the 19-year-old Proud’s second gold of the Games – in his first he had beaten two of South Africa’s best, Chad le Clos and Roland Schoeman, to win the 50m butterfly. This is a young man quick off his blocks.

Proud’s swim was the British highlight of the closing night in the pool, but there were others worthy of inclusion on the show reel; England’s barnstorming relay team victory, Georgia Davies, who won a second Welsh gold in successive evenings with victory in the 50m backstroke, one of three Welsh medals in the sessions, and Dan “Freedom” Wallace, who produced one of his now trademark late surges to seize silver ahead of Le Clos in the 200m individual medley. He donned his kilt to receive his second medal and Scottish sport has found a new cult hero, at least until the football season starts.

“That silver was the cherry on top,” said Wallace. “If every competition was like that it would be great but I’m not sure many will top this. My dream is to be famous so I guess this is where it all starts.”

Wallace wants to inspire a new generation of Scottish swimmers into the pool. His generation of young British swimmers has done a pretty good job in that direction over the past six nights. Proud has led the way – and now has a curious level of fame of his own, with Battersea Cats and Dogs Home naming a Rottweiler after him. He is one of three teenage English medallists – another of them, Adam Peaty, won his second gold, in the 4x100m relay medley.

Three of England’s 4x100m relay medley quartet, Chris-Walker Hebborn, Adam Barrett and Adam Peaty, celebrate their success (Getty) Three of England’s 4x100m relay medley quartet, Chris-Walker Hebborn, Adam Barrett and Adam Peaty, celebrate their success (Getty)
Proud grew up in Malaysia, where he watched the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games aged four, before being sent to school at Plymouth College, the alma mater of Tom Daley and, more relevantly, Ruta Meilutyte, who won Olympic gold aged 15. She may be younger than her Plymouth team-mates but the Lithuanian is an inspiration, as is the man who guides them.

Jon Rudd, the swimming coach at Plymouth, has taken on head coach duties with the England team here.

There were minimal celebrations planned by Proud, unlike for the Australian team by the look of their mood poolside as they finished with 19 gold medals. For Proud the European Championships are looming.

“I’m going to have a day off and then get back into training,” he said. “I enjoy swimming and there is no point ruining something [by celebrating]. I’m swimming at my peak right now.”

There was a second medal in two nights for Jazz Carlin, but this time she had to settle for silver in the 400m freestyle behind Lauren Boyle, the New Zealander she had beaten to gold in the 800m. Davies snaked out a hand to take gold ahead of England’s Lauren Quigley by 0.13sec in the 50m backstroke, while Daniel Jervis, an 18-year-old from Neath, claimed bronze in the 1500m.

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all