Ruta Meilutyte now has a world title to go with the Olympic gold medal already stored in her locker at Plymouth College – and both secured at the age of 15. Tonight, the Lithuanian won the 50m breaststroke at the world short-course championships in Istanbul to cap a staggering year.
If the gold in London was a shock, this was less so for Meilutyte, who competes for the Plymouth Leander club where she is coached by the respected Jon Rudd. But it does underline the fact that her success in London – which was greeted by an admiring text from Wayne Rooney – was the emergence of a rare talent rather than a one-off. Meilutyte has shocked Rudd with her progress. Before London her most significant swim had been to win a gold at the European Youth Olympic festival last summer.
Tonight she held off a strong field over two lengths – world-record holder Jessica Hardy of the US finished only fifth. "I really didn't expect it," said Meilutyte, who began studying for her GCSEs after her Olympic triumph. "It's crazy. I just get in there and treat it like the rest."
Meilutyte is on a sports scholarship to Plymouth College, a private school, with the rest of her fees paid by Lithuania's Olympic Committee. Unfortunately for Britain she has no intention of switching nationality.
There were no medals for Britain last night, although Hannah Miley could hardly have come closer. The Scot gave another indication of her new direction since London by finishing fourth in the 800m freestyle, one of seven events in which she is competing this week. Miley, who wants to increase her workload, finished fourth in an event which is by no means her speciality, just 0.16sec short of the American Chloe Sutton, who took bronze.
Georgia Davies finished fifth in the 100m backstroke, 0.14sec off bronze, while Sophie Allen's fine form continued as she earned a place in tonight's 100m medley final.
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