x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

World Junior Championships: Ruta Meilutyte powers past pain

'One of the hardest days' for Lithuanian youngster as she picks up more gold, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

Ruta Meilutyte, in the green cap, had another successful day at Hamdan bin Mohammed Sports Complex in Dubai yesterday.
Ruta Meilutyte, in the green cap, had another successful day at Hamdan bin Mohammed Sports Complex in Dubai yesterday.

DUBAI // Ruta Meilutyte emerged from one of her toughest days in the pool with two new championship records and two more gold medals to add to her World Junior Swimming Championships tally.

The Lithuanian, 16 and the reigning world-record holder in two breaststroke events, competed in three events yesterday, starting with the 200m individual medley heats in the morning session. She started the evening session with gold in the 100m breaststroke final and returned a short while later to blaze to victory in the 200m IM final.

"It's pain, pain, pain," said Meilutyte after the strenuous 200m medley, still gasping for breath.

"Today has been one of the hardest days I have ever done. But I am really happy. My motivation is like, give it all, spend all my pennies this weekend. It's a really fast field and I gave it my 100 per cent. Other girls were really close."

Meilutyte, who also bagged a silver in the mixed 4x100m relay, is taking part in nine events at the world juniors, and despite the exhaustion, is happy with the way her week is going.

"One of the reasons we took all these events is to prove that I have to race hard against the other girls in other events," she said. "It's been interesting. It's been good fun."

In the 200m IM last night, Meilutyte set a new championship record of 2 minutes, 12.32 seconds, finishing ahead of American Ella Eastin and Canada's Sydney Pickrem. In the 100m breaststroke, she kept familiar rival Sophie Taylor of Great Britain at bay, clocking 1:06.61 to set a new championship mark.

"It's a good PB and a medal as well, so I am very happy," Taylor said. "That's the advantage of racing against her. She is always there, pushing you on.

"It just makes you want to swim fast because you think, the closer I am to her, the closer one day I could be a world champion. It's really just encouraging."

Meilutyte's 100m breaststroke win broke Russia's dream start to the evening, when they won three golds in succession, setting championship records in all three.

Alexsandr Palatov first wiped almost a second off the boys 200m breaststroke mark of 2:11.70, set by Japan's Akihiro Yamaguchi - the current world-record (2:07.01) holder in the event - in 2011.

Svetlana Chimrova then made it two-in-two for Russia with the girls 50m butterfly gold, improving on the championship record time of 26.40 she had set in the semis a day earlier with a 26.32 in the final.

Grigory Tarasevich clinched Russia's third consecutive gold, erasing Chritian Diener's 2011 mark of 25.58 in the 50m backstroke with a blistering finish in the 50m breaststroke. The Russian (25.44) managed to inch ahead of German Carl Louis Schwarz (25.76) and Michail Kontizas (25.90) of Greece in a tight finish.

"It's 50m, so it's basically pure luck - your start, your touch," Tarasevich said. "I was expecting to set a new championship record. So I am pretty happy with that."

The Great Britain boys 4x200m relay team also set a new championship mark, winning the gold ahead of Australia and the United States in 7:15.36.

In the morning session, New Zealand's Gabrielle Fa'Amausili improved on Daryna Zevina's 2011 mark of 28.45 in the girls 50m backstroke with a time of 28.14 in the prelims.