Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Down in Devon They're Just Wild about Their Adopted Golden Girl

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Down in Devon They're Just Wild about Their Adopted Golden Girl

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith Sports Correspondent

[bar] HE 15-year-old swimming sensation from Lithuania who has been adopted as an honorary Brit for the Olympic Games was today given a gold star for the manner in which she has adapted to life in this country.

Ruta Meilutyte captured the hearts of two nations at the Olympic Park last night when she let the tears flow upon receiving a shock gold medal for her victory over American world champion Rebecca Soni in the 100metres breaststroke final.

Cheering from the stands inside the Aquatic Centre were the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, and her English swimming coach, Jon Rudd, while down in Devon Meilutyte's fellow pupils and teachers at Plymouth College watched in delight as the drama unfolded on television.

Meilutyte and her father Saulius moved to the south-west three years ago, partly drawn there by the training offered by the acclaimed Plymouth Leander Swimming Club and the facilities on offer at the College where Great Britain diver Tom Daley also studies.

Sarah Dunn, deputy head, said: "Ruta is close friends with Tom. They are very similar in that they are very dedicated, very focused and completely and utterly in tune with what they need.

"Ruta is one of those rare golden students who listen to what is said to her and who does exactly what is right both in her school life and in her swimming training. We are absolutely ecstatic about the gold medal.

"The whole school community has gone wild about this. We knew she was in with a bit of a chance but we didn't really expect quite this magnificent result."

Rudd said: "Ruta's father moved to Plymouth for a change of lifestyle. He got himself settled, got a job and a house, and then brought his daughter over a couple of months later. I think he knew we had a good swimming programme in Plymouth, so that was one of the main reasons for choosing that area."

Meilutyte set a new European record in qualifying for the final and then claimed her gold in a time of 1min 5. …

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