x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Ruta Meilutyte sprints back into action in the UAE

Breaststroke short-distance world-record holder confirmed to compete at Dubai event.

Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte.
Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte.

The fastest breaststroke sprinter in women's swimming history is coming to Dubai for the Fina World Junior Championships next week, organisers said on Sunday.

Ruta Meilutyte, a Lithuanian who attends Plymouth College in England, is the world record-holder in both the 50-metre and 100m breaststroke, and won a gold in the 100m at the London 2012 Olympics.

Meilutyte, still only 16, will be looking to add gold from the junior championships, at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex, to augment her Olympic, World Championships and Short Course collection. "We are very excited that Ruta Meilutyte will be competing in Dubai," said Ahmed Al Falasi, the president of the UAE Swimming Federation and chairman of the event's organising committee.

"She is an exceptional talent and we encourage the public to come and see her in action next week.

"The standard of competition will be very high and spectators are guaranteed some world-class performances."

Meilutyte was only 15 when she won the 100m breaststroke gold at London 2012, clocking a time of 1:05.47 seconds. "I can't believe it," she said after that race. "It's too much for me."

Her Olympic gold medal was Lithuania's first in swimming since the country established independence in 1990.

Last month, she set world records in both the 100m (1:04.35) and 50m (29.48) at the World Championships in Barcelona.

She had been training in England with Jon Rudd for three years ahead of winning gold at the London Games.

"We didn't realistically know what she would do," Rudd told the BBC, adding that Meilutyte was a freestyler when she arrived in England. "Her breaststroke was pretty tidy and we tidied it up even more.

"A big swim around the 1:05-1:06 mark was brewing for a while, it was just about putting the elements together on the day.

"She is a talented and vigilant worker. When you've got talent and work ethic you've got a great kid."

The Plymouth College assistant head teacher Sarah Dunn told the BBC: "We are almost in tears, it was such an achievement. We knew she had great potential when she arrived here three years ago. Not only is she a fantastic athlete, but she is also a great scholar.

"She has always demonstrated superb talent and the hunger and desire to succeed. We had every confidence in her.

"To achieve what she has at such a young age is incredible. She is a real credit and we are so proud of her."

She will have a very heavy schedule in Dubai; her plans are to compete in nine events.

"Seeing Meilutyte swim will be truly inspiring, as she has worked very hard and overcome many obstacles to make it to the top in swimming at such a young age and is a great example of what can be achieved with dedication and commitment," Al Falasi said. "This is a great opportunity for people to show their children what is possible, and to see both current and future world champions in action."

The World Junior Championships begin a week from Monday and continue through August 31.

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