Swimming: Golden girl Steph has Proud moment

STEPH Proud will have to slightly revise her plans for a Chinese summer after springing the shock of the British Gas Championships in Manchester last night.

STEPH Proud will have to slightly revise her plans for a Chinese summer after springing the shock of the British Gas Championships in Manchester last night.

The 22-year-old from Chester-le-Street left European champion Lizzie Simmonds and world and European champion Gemma Spofforth in second and fifth respectively as she won the 200m backstroke in 2:09.41.

The time was more than three seconds inside Britain’s qualifying time for the world championships in Shanghai in July.

And Proud will now be bidding for a medal there rather than defending her title at the World University Games in nearby Shenzhen the following month.

Although she has represented Britain at junior level and short-course events and England in last year’s Commonwealth Games, it will be Proud’s first outing with at a senior long-course international championship.

Simmonds, 20, from Loughborough University, will have to swim again in June if she is to qualify for Shanghai.

Spofforth, who trains alongside Proud at the University of Florida, has already qualified in the 100m backstroke and will now focus on that for the summer.

Proud said: “It helps having to swim against people of this level. They are the reason I’m swimming so fast.”

She added: “There is no room for mediocrity at all.”

Like Simmonds, City of Newcastle butterfly specialist Andy Mayor will have to head for Sheffield in June if he is to qualify for Shanghai.

Mayor, 25, who last year represented his native Scotland in the Commonwealth Games, came fourth in the 100m butterfly in 53.95.

The time was only 0.4sec outside his PB and he missed the bronze medal by an even smaller margin.

Mayor said: “I had a break after Delhi and we had a pretty rocky winter with the bad weather so I’m very happy to come here when not in top shape and get into the 53s.

“I’m disappointed to be out of the medals. I wasn’t quite good enough today but it’s definitely a platform to push on from.”

 
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