Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Ruta Meilutyte (15) claims Olympic gold medal for Lithuania in 100m breaststroke

Published 31/07/2012 | 04:39

Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania reacts as she receives her gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Breaststroke
Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania reacts as she receives her gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Breaststroke
Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte took gold in the women's 100m breaststroke (AP/Lee Jin-man)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania celebrates with her gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Breaststroke on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte on the podium after collecting her gold medal in the Women's 100m Breaststroke Final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park, London, on the third day of the London 2012 Olympics. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 30, 2012. Photo credit should read: Tony Marshall/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania reacts as she receives her gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Breaststroke on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania reacts as she receives her gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Breaststroke on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania reacts as she receives her gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Breaststroke on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania reacts as she receives her gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Breaststroke on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania reacts as she receives her gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Breaststroke on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Yuan Cao and Yanquan Zhang of China compete in the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Diving on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Sun Yang of China competes in the Final of the Men's 200m Freestyle on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: (L-R) Chad Le Clos of South Africa, Tyler Clary (C) of the United States and Yin Chen of China compete in the first semifinal heat of the Men's 200m Butterfly on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Bronze medal winner Yujie Sun of China poses after the Women's Epee Individual Fencing Finals on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Ning Gao of Singapore returns the ball during his Men's Singles Table Tennis fourth round match against Wang Hao of China on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Ning Gao of Singapore returns the ball during his Men's Singles Table Tennis fourth round match against Wang Hao of China on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: (L-R) Yuan Cao and Yanquan Zhang of China celebrate with their gold medals during the medal cermony for the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Diving on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: (L-R) Yuan Cao and Yanquan Zhang of China compete in the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Diving on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Yuan Cao and Yanquan Zhang of China compete in the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Diving on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: (L-R) Silver medalists German Sanchez Sanchez and Ivan Garcia Navarro of Mexico, gold medalists Yuan Cao and Yanquan Zhang of China and bronze medalists Nicholas Mccrory and David Boudia of the United States celebrate celebrate on the podium with their medals during the medal cermony for the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Diving on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Ning Ding of China returns the ball during her Women's Singles Table Tennis fourth round match against Huajun Jiang of Hong Kong, China on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on July 30, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
Yuan Cao and Yanquan Zhang of China compete in the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Diving
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28: (L-R) Silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel of the United States, gold medalist Shiwen Ye of China and bronze medalist Xuanxu Li of China celebrate during the Medal Ceremony for the Women's 400m Individual Medley on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 28, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28: Ilona Burgrova #8 of Czech Republic shoots against Lijie Miao #8 of China during Women's Basketball on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on July 28, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
China fans cheers on their team at the London 2012 Olympic Games
Yao Jinnan of China practises on the Beam during training sessions for artistic gymnastics ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games
The Chinese Olympic gymnastic team pose for a photograph after a training session at Salto Gym in Lisburn, Co Antrim. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 18, 2012. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire.
Zhang Chenglong pictured at the Chinese Olympic training camp in Salto Gymnastics Club, Lisburn. The mens and ladies team will base themselves in Lisburn before they move to London to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Youth Olympic Gold medalist Tan Sixin pictured at the Chinese Olympic training camp in Salto Gymnastics Club, Lisburn. The mens and ladies team will base themselves in Lisburn before they move to London to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Chinese Olympic training camp in Salto Gymnastics Club, Lisburn. The mens and ladies team will base themselves in Lisburn before they move to London to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Yan Mingyong pictured at the Chinese Olympic training camp in Salto Gymnastics Club, Lisburn. The mens and ladies team will base themselves in Lisburn before they move to London to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Empty seats during the Egypt v New Zealand Group C match at Old Trafford, Manchester
Empty seats on Centre Court during Great Britain's Andy Murray's First Round match in the Men's Singles at the Olympic Tennis Venue, Wimbledon
Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska plays in front of empty seats, during the First Round of the Women's Singles at the Olympic Tennis Venue, Wimbledon
Empty seats are seen during the Artistic Gymnastics team qualification at the North Greenwich Arena
Empty seats are seen during the artistic gymnastics team qualification at the North Greenwich Arena, London
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: The Olympic Rings are assembled during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Mark Cavendish crosses the finish line in the men's road race
Kazakhstan's Alexandr Vinolurov celebrates winning gold (centre) alongside second placed Rigoberto Uran and third placed Alexander Kristoff
Hannah Miley came fifth in the Women's 400m Individual Medley at the Aquatic Centre
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers dressed up as Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond parachute out of a helicopter above the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: (L-R) Norma Major, Gordon Brown and Chief Executive of LOCOG Paul Deighton during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Gary Connery and Mark Sutton parachute into the stadium as part of short James Bond film featuring Daniel Craig and The Queen during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a scene of an ordinary family arriving home on a Saturday night during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: United States' fans celebrate the openning of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Trafalgar Square on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: British Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt (2L) and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (R) is seen during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: People celebrate the openning of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Trafalgar Square on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: People celebrate the openning of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Trafalgar Square on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Rings representing both the Olympics and the Industrial Revolution are lit during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Rings representing both the Olympics and the Industrial Revolution are lit during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Rings representing both the Olympics and the Industrial Revolution are lit during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: The Red Arrows disappear over London ahead of the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Olympic Park on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Fireworks are set off during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Paul McCartney performs during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Great Britain's Sir Chris Hoy carries the Union Flag during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
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The Olympic flame is lit during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic Flame burns after it was lit at the end of the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony . Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius waves at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic Flame burns after it was lit at the end of the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
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Steve Redgrave, right, holds up the Olympic flame after entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Cameron Spencer, Pool)
Steve Redgrave carries the Olympic flame into the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Cameron Spencer, Pool)
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Fireworks light up over the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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There will, after all, be an Olympic gold medal to be celebrated by the staff and pupils of Plymouth College. Just hours after Tom Daley, the school's most famous graduate, failed to claim a medal, Ruta Meilutyte produced the third of three astonishing swims spread over the course of two days to claim gold for Lithuania at the age of 15.

On an unrewarding night for Britain – Liam Tancock, the sole medal hope, faded to finish fifth in the 100m backstroke – the home support were able to claim a victory of sorts in the 100m breaststroke through Meilutyte. She has already been asked about switching allegiance and firmly declined.



Like Daley before her, Meilutyte is on a scholarship at the private school and trains at the same facility in Plymouth, but unlike the poster boy of Team GB she did not arrive in London with any great expectation resting on her young shoulders. Her coach, Jon Rudd, said they would have settled for a personal best and a place in the final. He got both.



It is the second astonishing teenage victory to come in the first three nights in the pool, but in many ways hers is even more remarkable a performance than that of Ye Shiwen, the 16-year-old Chinese who shattered the world record in the 400m individual medley and set a new Olympic mark in the 200m individual medley last night.



Meilutyte, the only female in the Lithuanian swim team, is ranked No 1 in the world in her age group but coming into the Olympics had managed to record only the 14th best time in the world this year. She has now recorded the fastest.



Whereas the raucous atmosphere inside the Aquatics Centre seems to have overawed some of the British swimmers, Meilutyte has thrived. From the moment she touched the water in her heat on Sunday morning she has dominated the event.



She began with a personal best and then in that night's semi-finals she broke the European record to advance to the final as quickest qualifier.



The rest of the swimming world was all too aware of her by the time she stepped out of the call room last night, clad in her dark green swim hat with the Lithuanian flag on one side. She appeared nerveless; she was unaffected by a false start from Breeja Larson, the American two lanes down, and also unbothered by the few minutes' wait that followed as the starting mechanism was reset.



Coming down the final 50m she opened up her lead and then held on as Rebecca Soni responded over the closing 15m. She touched 0.08sec quicker than the Beijing gold medallist, hauled herself out of the water and perched on the lane divider waving ecstatically to the crowd.



Meilutyte, whose mother died in a car accident when she was four, arrived in Britain two years ago. Her father had come to Plymouth to work as a carer, seen the facilities at the Leander club in the city and suggested she join him. "It will be good for your swimming," he informed her.



Her progress under Rudd, who has a stable of impressive young swimmers, has been meteoric. She was understandably taken aback. "It's too much for me," she said. "I really can't say anything. It was hard and difficult. At the moment I can't speak too much. But it means a lot to me and I'm so proud." Tears followed on the podium.



The best two British swims of the night came from women too. Caitlin McClatchey and Hannah Miley making finals in the 200m freestyle and the 200m individual medley relay respectively. McClatchey, at her third Olympics, produced her best swim since Beijing, setting the pace in a high-class field for the second semi-final. She led at the final turn, only for Federica Pellegrini to edge past but McClatchey held on to second to finish ahead of Missy Franklin.



The two men in action, Tancock and Robbie Renwick, were both in finals but neither troubled the podium. Renwick will be the more satisfied with his sixth place in the 200m freestyle final amid some stellar performers. It marked an improvement of two places on Beijing.



For Tancock, McClatchey's partner, it was one better than in 2008 but represents another frustrating failure to transform his dominance over 50m into the 100m. He swum his first world championships in 2005 and it is at world level where his success has come. The 50m backstroke, at which he excels as the world record holder, is not an Olympic event.



Gemma Spofforth completed the last individual race of her career with a creditable fifth in the 100m backstroke behind Missy Franklin. Spofforth will retire after the Games and plans to attempt to climb Everest. She will probably discover Meilutyte waiting for her.

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