Brits rush to claim a slice of teen swimming sensation

2012-07-31 14:39

London – Success-starved Britain rushed to claim a slice of Lithuanian teenager Ruta Meilutyte’s gold-medal glory after the swimmer’s remarkable win in the 100m breaststroke.

Meilutyte, who became the youngest winner of the Olympic event at 15 years and 133 days, goes to school in England and trains at the same Plymouth facility as British poster-boy diver Tom Daley.

While Meilutyte is Lithuania’s first Olympic swimming champion you could be forgiven for thinking the blonde schoolkid is British given the reaction to yesterday’s 100m breastroke win over American world champion Rebecca Soni.

Jon Rudd, her coach at Plymouth Leander swimming club, claimed Meilutyte should be regarded as “our adopted Brit”.

“She goes to a British school, swims for a British club and has a British coach, so she is a great British interest story,” Rudd told The Daily Telegraph.

“We should feel really proud of her: she is a product of our nation’s work. I hope Brits around the country got behind her: she should be our adopted Brit.”

The Daily Mail proclaimed: “Plymouth schoolgirl wins swimming gold ... but it’s for Lithuania,” while The Independent said “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”.

Meilutyte’s mother died after being hit by a car when Ruta was four years old and she came to England in 2010 with her father and established their new home in Plymouth where she joined the local swimming club.

She could barely speak after her victory, looking stunned as she straddled the lane rope trying to take it all in amid the tumult around the pool.

Meilutyte, the only female in the Lithuanian swim team, was barely composed as she shed tears on the podium after her country’s national anthem was played to sustained applause from the heart-felt crowd at the Aquatics Centre.

“I put all my strength into that race. I still can’t believe it. I’m shocked, but in a good way,” she said.

“I started crying on the podium, that’s when it started to sink in.

“I can’t believe it. It’s too much for me. It was hard and difficult. But it means a lot to me and I’m so proud.”

Meilutyte’s improvement has been stunning. She arrived at the Games with a best time of 1:07.20 and whittled it down by 1.73secs to become Olympic champion.

Now she owns the fastest time of the year (1:05.21) and her future is boundless.

“It was definitely a surprise, but after her prelim swim, I knew she would be a great competitor,” runner-up Soni said.

“It is amazing to be able to do that at 15. She swam three races impressive, so it wasn’t out of nowhere. It was an honour to have swum with her as she will do great in the future.” 

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.