Ruta shines away from the spotlight
CITY swimming sensation Ruta Meilutyte is being left to concentrate on racing at the World Short Course Championships – and the lack of attention is doing her good.
Meilutyte, who is not 16 until March, shocked the swimming world by winning an Olympic gold medal in the London Games during the summer.
Her stunning performance – she broke a European record for the 100m breaststroke during the semi-finals – put her under an immediate media spotlight.
It also gave her rock star status in her home country, Lithuania.
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But the schoolgirl, who attends Plymouth College, has managed to escape media attention at the World Short Course Championships in Istanbul.
According to her coach, Jon Rudd, the rest from the glare of notoriety is doing her good.
Meilutyte wants to repeat her gold medal in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
She set a new championship record of 29.56 seconds in the 50m breaststroke heats in Turkey – then followed it up with 29.51 seconds in the semi-finals yesterday, a new European record.
Rudd, head coach of city club Plymouth Leander, when asked how the teenaged swimmer is coping with the attention, said: "It's been fairly quiet, to be honest.
"Any Lithuanian interest is being handled by their swimming federation and I've fended off a few questions for her and that's it.
"She's not getting any hassle and she's had a quiet, normal time. She likes it that way.
"She likes to be able to concentrate on what she's doing."
Rudd was pleased with the progress of the rest of the Leander party taking part in the Championships, which finish on Sunday.
Also taking part in Turkey are Leander swimmers Hazal Sarikaya, who is competing in his home country, Jade Howard (Zambia), Tieri Erasito (Fiji) and Ahmad Attellesey (Libya).
They are scheduled to return to Plymouth on Monday, after appearing at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year awards in London.
Rudd said: "They've all been doing very well, with most of them getting personal bests."