PLYMOUTH Leander's Ben Proud wins gold at British Gas International Open in Leeds
PLYMOUTH Leander's exciting young teenage talent Ben Proud won a gold medal as did better-known club-mate Ruta Meilutyte at the British Gas International Open Meet in Leeds.
Olympic gold medallist Meilutyte stormed to victories in the women's open 50m and 100m breaststroke final, while fellow Leander and Plymouth College team-mate Proud took first place in the men's open 50m butterfly.
It was Proud's second medal of the tournament, having won a silver in the men's 50m freestyle on Friday.
Lithuanian bombshell Meilutyte, not 16 until March 19, won her blue-riband sprint event emphatically by just under two seconds.
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Meilutyte stormed home in a time of 1.06.75 which clearly delighted the city ace, who made her international breakthrough at last summer's Olympic Games in London.
She added open 50m breaststroke gold in 30.57 seconds yesterday evening.
Proud, 18, an unknown outside of Malaysia less than two years ago, beat off a tough field, including Leander's brilliant Olympic sprint swimmer Antony James, in a time of 24.10.
Proud's medal-winning time was quicker than that of his heat while James had to be content with fourth place on day three of the championships, which doubled up as European trials.
Proud, who won a 50m butterfly silver at last year's European Junior Championships in Antwerp, was delighted to have gone one better than 2012 at the Leeds swim-fest and in is preferred discipline.
He said: "If I had to choose between the 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly I would say butterfly is my favourite. "So, I'm really pleased to get the gold.
"My plan now going forward is to keep training hard and, hopefully, look to post some fast times."
Leander coach Jon Rudd told Herald Sport he was delighted with his swimmers' performances and their medal returns but insisted they had not come as a surprise.
"Ruta's 100m time was closer to her PB set in the semis at the Olympics. She is setting a terrific pace for those who want to beat her over this distance," said Rudd.
"She's only going to get better and quicker as she trains and works hard.
"Ben has been with us for less than 18 months after he came to our attention out in Malaysia. His family are ex-pats out there. He came to us at Plymouth College and has worked hard to improve.
"You shouldn't read too much into Ben beating Antony in the final. AJ's speciality is the 100m – he would definitely win that race.
"Our success and that of the divers at the Life Centre shows what an aquatic sporting powerhouse Plymouth is right now."
JACK SMITH added to Plymouth Leander's medal haul in Leeds yesterday, breaking the British age record and winning the men's 18 years and under 100m freestyle in 51.02 seconds.