Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Star : Proud to be under AirAsia’s wings


PUTRAJAYA: Glasgow Commonwealth Games double gold medallist swimmer Ben Proud (pic) will come under AirAsia’s backing as he makes a bid for Olympic glory in Tokyo in 2020.

AirAsia yesterday announced a four-year tie-up with the British Olympic swimmer who grew up in Kuala Lumpur.

Proud attended the Alice Smith School from kindergarten until year 11 when he left to pursue his swimming career further at Plymouth College.

As part of the deal, the 22-year-old will host an annual talent pool coaching clinic for up-and-coming competitive swimmers in the region, which kicked off in Putrajaya yesterday.

The Malaysian leg of the clinic, supported by the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM), saw 30 club swimmers aged 12 to 15 take part in an intensive one-day session at Marina Putrajaya Indoor Pool.

It was conducted by Proud and AquaElite coaches Antony James, a former Olympian, who will be joined in subsequent clinics by Commonwealth Games finalist Steven Beckerleg of Britain.

Proud swam for Britain in the 50m and 100m freestyle at the Rio Olympics last year.

He placed fourth in the 50m freestyle final in Rio.

“Following my first Olympic Games experience in Rio last year, I’ve set my goals and focus on achieving success at Tokyo 2020 and prior to that, defending my title at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. It’s going to be a challenging and exciting few years ahead.

“I am delighted to have the chance to return to my swimming roots in Malaysia, where I first fell in love with the sport while growing up in Kuala Lumpur, to help train the talents of tomorrow.

“It will be really rewarding to work with AirAsia to inspire and nurture future swimming champions throughout the Asean region over the next four years,” said Proud, who won the Commonwealth Games 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle golds in Glasgow in 2014.

AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said: “Asean has an abundance of talent but we don’t always develop that to the fullest.

“I hope that with the talent pool, which we will take all across Asean, we can help fill that gap and maybe even unearth the next Joseph Schooling (Singapore), Sun Yang (China), Kosuke Kitajima (Japan) or Ben Proud.”


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