Meilutyte focus is solely on the Rio Olympics, says Rudd
CITY swimming sensation Ruta Meilutyte can stage a repeat of her stunning Olympic gold medal in four years time, insists top UK coach Jon Rudd.
Meilutyte, just 15, ambushed the swimming world at this summer's London Games by winning a gold in the breaststroke and breaking a European record en-route to the final.
Rudd, who coaches the Plymouth Leander teenager, is already preparing her for the next Olympic Games, scheduled for Rio, Brazil, in 2016.
This weekend, Plymouth College student Meilutyte will be under intense scrutiny when she competes in the World Cup in Stockholm.
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But Rudd made it clear the main focus would be on the next Olympic Games.
He said: "Of course, she can do it (win the gold medal) again, but there's a lot of difference between 'can' and 'will'.
"Everything between now and then will be geared towards Rio.
"There are World Championships and European Championships coming up, but everything we are doing, I have to think about what's going to benefit Ruta for Rio.
"When Ruta won the gold medal, the media spotlight just wasn't there, but it will be this time.
"In London, she was unknown, but this time we won't have the element of surprise.
"In Rio, Ruta's going to be a 19-year-old woman, instead of a 15-year-old girl.
"Her psychological make-up will be different and physically she will be different. It is hard to see, physically, how she might change and it's something we just don't know at the moment.
"There might be other things in her life other than school and swimming.
"In some ways, it might be easier to prepare her for Rio and in another way, it might be more difficult.
"The journey, however, is never dull and I'm looking forward to it."
Now Meilutyte has hit super-stardom status in her own country, media scrutiny is intense and likely to remain so leading up to the Rio Olympics.
Every move the Lithuanian makes, every slightly off-key performance – in fact, everything she does – is likely to be dissected in detail.
Rudd, however, is hopeful the teenager can handle the pressure.
He said: "She's calm with it at the moment and I hope it will stay that way."