Tag Archives: sensation

Arsenal want Adel Taarabt if they can"t sign Wilfried Zaha

Arsenal plot shock swoop for Taarabt if Wenger fails to land 20m-rated Zaha

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UPDATED:

07:03 GMT, 8 November 2012

Arsenal could switch their attentions to Queens Park Rangers playmaker Adel Taarabt if they are priced out of a move for teenage hotshot Wilfried Zaha.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger wants to bolster his forward line in January and has earmarked Crystal palace starlet Zaha, 19, as his top target.

But the Championship club have a slapped an unrealistic 20million price tag on the England Under 21 winger while Arsenal face competition for his signature from Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Target: Arsenal could make a January move for playmaker Adel Taarabt

Target: Arsenal could make a January move for playmaker Adel Taarabt

Arsenal will launch a 9million move in January having watched Zaha, who grew up as an Arsenal supporter, on several occasions this season.

The winger is settled in London and
is in no hurry to leave Selhurst Park, but it is understood the youngster
would find it difficult to turned down a switch to a top Premier League
club.

Arsenal are
likely to start their bidding with a deal worth 9m, an offer which will
comprise of a number of performance-related add-ons.

But
Palace will not let their teenage
sensation leave Selhurst Park without a fight. Financially,
the club are under no pressure to sell Zaha in January, while chairman
Steve Parish has publicly insisted it would take a 20million offer for
Palace to part with their Ivory-Coast born forward.

Wanted: Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha has been watched by several clubs

Wanted: Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha has been watched by several clubs

And according to the Daily Mirror, that could lead to Wenger moving instead for Taarabt, 23, who has played only six times this season but scored two goals.

The mercurial Moroccan joined Rangers from London rivals Tottenham on loan in 2009 before signing a permanent deal.

He helped the club win the Championship under Neil Warnock and was linked with a move to big-spending French side Paris Saint-Germain but the transfer failed to materialise.

Jockeys star in Gangnam Style parody – video

Hey, sexy horsey! Jump jockeys star in hilarious Gangnam Style parody

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UPDATED:

02:55 GMT, 7 November 2012

Gangnam Style – it might sound like entry for a novice hurdle at Sandown but is in fact an internet sensation – now has a jockey version.

The single by South Korean artist PSY has been the subject of tribute parodies by many among others, including students from Eton.

Scroll down for video…

Parody: David Crosse, Gerard Tumelty, Sam Jones and Charlie Huxley starred in their adaption of Gangnam Style

Parody: David Crosse, Gerard Tumelty, Sam Jones and Charlie Huxley star in their version of Gangnam Style

Parody: David Crosse, Gerard Tumelty, Sam Jones and Charlie Huxley starred in their adaption of Gangnam Style

But jump jockeys David Crosse, Gerard Tumelty, Sam Jones and Charlie Huxley, with a little inadvertent help from AP McCoy, have produced their take.

The voice-over is supplied by ex-jockey Kevin Tobin while another former weighing room face, ATR Presenter Luke Harvey, was behind the camera.

Arsenal to make 9m move for Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace in January

Arsenal to test Palace's resolve with 9m move for wonderkid Zaha in January

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 2 November 2012

Football League blog

Arsenal will launch a 9million move to land Crystal Palace whizkid Wilfried Zaha in January.

The club have watched the 19-year-old, who grew up as an Arsenal supporter, on several occasions this season.

And Arsenal’s interest in Zaha took a
step forward last weekend when chief scout Steve Rowley watched the
teenager put in a scintillating display
against Leicester.

The real deal: Wilfried Zaha is attracting interest from a raft of clubs

The real deal: Wilfried Zaha (left) is attracting interest from a raft of clubs

The winger is settled in London and is no hurry to leave Selhurst Park, but it is understood the youngster would find it difficult to turned down a switch to a top Premier League club.

Arsenal are likely to start their bidding with a deal worth 9m, an offer which will comprise of a number of performance-related add-ons.

But Palace, who were continuing with their attempts to name Blackpool manager Ian Holloway as their next manager, will not let their teenage sensation leave Selhurst Park without a fight.

Financially, the club are under no pressure to sell Zaha in January, while chairman Steve Parish has publicly insisted it would take a 20million offer for Palace to part with their Ivory-Coast born forward.

The south London club remained determined to keep hold of Zaha, particularly if they remain in the hunt for promotion at the turn of the year, and will inform their incoming manager their are no plans to sell the forward in January.

But that will not stop Arsenal testing Palace’s resolve. It is highly unlikely Palace will accept an 9million offer – but the the Gunners are determined to land the youngster.

An improved bid between 12m-15m could leave Parish with a serious question to answer.

Adam Gemili trains his sights on Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt

British sprint sensation Gemili trains his sights on big guns and sub-10 secs run

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UPDATED:

21:12 GMT, 16 October 2012


Rising star: Adam Gemili is making an impression

Rising star: Adam Gemili is making an impression

Sprint prodigy Adam Gemili hopes he can run under 10 seconds next year after receiving elite funding from UK Athletics.

The 100 metres world junior champion produced a confident performance at the London Olympics and just missed out on the 100m final.

Olympic silver medal winner Yohan Blake, 22, was the youngest man to break 10 seconds, which he did at the age of 19 years and 196 days.

But Gemili, who turned 19 on October 6, ran 10.05sec in Barcelona at the World Junior Championships in July and he said: ‘I hope to go under 10 seconds in the next year. With a full winter training, working on my technique and staying injury free it could happen.

‘Competing in London has done a lot for me. Winning the World Juniors was amazing, being in London and going against the real deal, Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake, it was nerve-wracking. But it just showed me that it’s not impossible to get to the level they’re at.’

Raheem Sterling to start for Liverpool against Manchester City

EXCLUSIVE: Rodgers to hand starlet Sterling maiden league start against champions Man City

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UPDATED:

11:34 GMT, 26 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is set to start teenage sensation Raheem Sterling against Manchester City at Anfield.

Sportsmail understands the Reds boss has given serious consideration to unleashing the 17-year-old attacker, who made his first senior start at Hearts in the Europa League on Thursday night, against the Barclays Premier League champions.

And it is believed the youngster will receive his landmark appearance in the club's opening home game of the season.

Sterling work! The young Liverpool attacker is primed to start against Man City

Sterling work! The young Liverpool attacker is primed to start against Man City

Rodgers has been hugely impressed with Sterling during his opening months as new Anfield manager, using the youngster during the Merseysiders' pre-season matches and the opening stages of his side's Europa League campaign.

Sterling was named man-of-the-match at Tynecastle in midweek and it seems his performance against the Scottish club has been enough for him to keep his place.

Rodgers now feels he has seen enough from the highly-rated forward, deciding he is ready to play an integral role in the Reds' domestic campaign.

The fact Sterling is preparing to face City underlines how much faith the Northern Irishman has in the starlet.

Hearts of the matter: Sterling starred in the Europe League clash at Tynecastle

Hearts of the matter: Sterling starred in the Europe League clash at Tynecastle

Sterling became unsettled last season after failing to break into Kenny Dalglish's plans despite his brilliant displays for the reserves – though he did go on to make three substitute appearances towards the end of the campaign.

And the clash against City could herald the beginning of a new dawn at Anfield, such is the level of expectation from Sterling.

The youngster will become the third youngest player to start a Premier League game for Liverpool, behind Michael Owen and Jack Robinson.

Kop that! Sterling featured in the Reds' pre-season fixtures

Kop that! Sterling featured in the Reds' pre-season fixtures

Oscar trains with Chelsea for first time

Oscar looks so young, laughs Cole as 25m Brazilian finally joins Chelsea team-mates

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UPDATED:

15:29 GMT, 17 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Brazilian sensation Oscar linked up with his new Chelsea team-mates for the first time on Friday.

The 25million midfielder is one of the Blues' big summer signing after arriving from Sao Paulo.

His start at Chelsea was delayed because of his involvement at the Olympics with runners-up Brazil.

But he was finally introduced to his new colleagues during a session at Cobham ahead of Sunday's match away to Wigan.

Ashley Cole tweeted: 'Just met our new signing Oscar – wow he looks young but I'm sure he will do very well with us this season, good luck to him #cfc.'

I'm here now! Oscar (centre) enjoys himself during his first training session on Friday

I'm here now! Oscar (centre) enjoys himself during his first training session on Friday

Nice touch: Oscar had a chance to show off his skills after joining up with his team-mates

Nice touch: Oscar had a chance to show off his skills after joining up with his team-mates

Meanwhile, Roberto di Matteo insisted Chelsea would not be held to ransom over their transfer targets as he considered blooding his latest signing in Sunday's Barclays Premier League opener.

The Blues travel to Wigan seemingly no closer to reaching an agreement with their opponents' chairman, Dave Whelan, over the transfer of Victor Moses.

Whelan this week accused Chelsea of 'messing about' over the fee for Moses, warning the 21-year-old was going nowhere unless his demands were met.

The Blues' business elsewhere may also have stalled, amid reports they have yet to agree a price for Porto forward Hulk or seal a deal for Marseille right-back Cesar Azpilicueta.

On top of that, they have had bids rejected for other targets as rival clubs have tried to eke the maximum return possible from a side bankrolled by billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.

But having already splashed out more than 60m this summer in an era of Financial Fair Play, Chelsea are not about to be bled dry during what remains of the transfer window.

Let's go: Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo directs his players during training

Let's go: Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo directs his players during training

Di Matteo said: 'I think that goes for many teams, not just for us. We're not going to pay over the top. What we think is the real value for a player, we have paid.'

Di Matteo typically refused to be drawn on potential comings and goings at Stamford Bridge other than confirming: 'There won't be anybody coming in for Sunday.'

That means Chelsea coming face to face at the DW Stadium with a player who they want and who – it would appear – also wants to join them.

Di Matteo was at pains not to discuss Moses this afternoon before being pressed into doing so by virtue of the fact his side will have to try to stop the forward on Sunday.

'We've played against him before – we know very well what ability he has,' he said. 'He's a young, talented guy… that plays for Wigan.'

One Chelsea star who will soon be given a break following what has been a gruelling schedule is last season's player of the Year, Juan Mata.

The 24-year-old was part of Spain's European Championship and Olympic squads and Di Matteo has been looking into leaving him out completely at some point in the near future.

That will probably be once the Blues boss is satisfied the likes of Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar can fill the void.

Ready Ashley Cole posted this picture of Twitter with team-mate Juan Mata

Ready Ashley Cole posted this picture of Twitter with team-mate Juan Mata

Chelsea certainly have no shortage of options in attacking midfield – if only the same could be said about the striker department. Many expressed surprise they were not in the thick of the race to sign Robin van Persie.

But although Di Matteo refused to reveal if they had been interested, he cast doubt on whether the Holland star would make the difference between Manchester United winning the title and finishing behind arch-rivals City again.

'Personally, I still believe that Man City is the favourite because they haven't lost any key players,' he said. 'But, certainly, Van Persie is a good signing for United.'

Chelsea midfielder Raul Meireles is a target for Tottenham and Di Matteo refused to confirm whether the Portuguese was a key part of his plans, saying only: 'He's with us. He's going to be with us at the weekend.'

That weekend heralds the big kick-off in the Premier League and Di Matteo said: 'It's about time that we start now. All the players are looking forward to it now, and we are.'

The Chelsea boss has repeatedly spoken of the need to slash last season's 25-point gap to City and United but less about whether Abramovich expected the title itself.

He said: 'We have to try, for sure. It's not that we're not going to try. We have to try to challenge ourselves with the other teams, so I wouldn't say there is no expectation.'

London 2012 Olympics: Keshorn Walcott lands javelin gold

Trinidad teenager Walcott completes remarkable double by landing javelin gold

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UPDATED:

21:53 GMT, 11 August 2012

Trinidad's Keshorn Walcott completed a
remarkable double by taking a surprise Olympic javelin gold less than a
month after becoming world junior champion.

Trinidad is better associated with
cricket – Brian Lara, after all, is the island's favourite son – or
sprinting. Their relay team did claim bronze behind Jamaica
and the USA.

Teen sensation: Gold medalist Keshorn Walcott

Teen sensation: Gold medalist Keshorn Walcott

But now we must think javelin after Saturday night's extraordinary competition in the Olympic Stadium which saw Walcott win gold with a throw of 84.58 metres.

In winning the title Walcott became only the second non-European to take the crown in 100 years of the Olympic Games, the last being an American back at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

He took the lead in the first round with a healthy opener of 83.51 metres and increased it in the second round with 84.58 metres which proved to be enough to win on the night, despite the Ukraine's Oleksandr Pyatnytsya third effort of 84.51 metres with Finn Antti Ruuskanen back in third after a throw of 84.12m.

Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago

There had looked to be plenty of potential winners in the field, including defending Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen from Norway and the Czech Republic's Vitezslav Vesely, who threw 88.34 metres in the qualifying rounds and is coached by three-time Olympic champion Jan Zelezny.

However, Thorkildsen could only manage sixth as Walcott, just 19, and winner of the world junior title earlier this summer, proved too strong on the night and as a result may just have provided another sporting option for the children of Trinidad.

'I just went out there to relax and enjoy it and it worked for me,' said Walcott, after his second-round effort was good enough for gold.

'It means everything to me. I just train my hardest and try to enjoy every time I come out.'

It was Trinidad and Tobago's first victory in an Olympic field event.

London 2012 Olympics: Adam Gemili narrowly missed out on a place in the 100m final

What a Gem! Teen Brit Adam just misses out on final flourish

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UPDATED:

22:54 GMT, 5 August 2012

Three Britons reached the men’s 100m semi-finals and Dwain Chambers, Adam Gemili and James Dasaolu all went out.

But while Chambers will look back, not for the first time, at what might have been, and Dasaolu can be satisfied with his performance, 18-year-old Gemili can dream of what the future could hold.

It came down to three one-hundredths of a second in the end for Chambers. That was all that separated the former drugs cheat from reaching his second Olympic final, 12 years after he finished fourth in Sydney.

Just missing out: Adam Gemili came third in his semi-final but was not quick enough to make the final

Just missing out: Adam Gemili came third in his semi-final but was not quick enough to make the final

But the thing that will gall him most The knowledge his first-round time, 10.02 seconds, could just have seen him pip the silver medallist from Beijing, Richard Thompson, to a place in the most eagerly awaited 100m final in history.

It was not to be. Drawn in a lane next to Usain Bolt, Chambers drove out of the blocks well but visibly tensed up when he sensed the Jamaican begin to ease past him.

As the world record-holder floated away, the 34-year-old’s neck muscles became tauter and he slipped back to fourth, his knee lift looking more and more strained. ‘I ran out of petrol,’ he said.

There was not quite redemption for Chambers on the track after serving a two-year drugs ban and getting a second chance to savour the Olympic experience through the courts.

Going close: Gemili finished behinds Yohan Blake

Going close: Gemili finished behinds Yohan Blake

OH SO CLOSE…

There may have been no British representative in last night’s 100 metres final — but our sprinters came mighty close.

Dwain Chambers and Adam Gemili were two of the three fastest not to make the final. Sprint sensation Gemili, 18, ran 10.06sec, just outside his personal best.

Chambers — running next to Usain Bolt in the second semi-final — clocked 10.05sec and just missed out to Trinidad and Tobago’s Keston Bledman.

But there was a moment he will cherish, as, before his heat, he was warmly cheered by the British crowd.

‘I’m gutted that I didn’t make the final, but we can’t have it all,’ he said. ‘It was worth it to soak up the atmosphere. I loved every moment.’

Gemili, too, came close to a place in the final, clocking 10.06 as he powered to third place in his semi-final. But his whole demeanour could not have been more different to that of Chambers, the experienced campaigner.

This is all new to the teenager from Dartford, Kent, the world junior 100m champion.

Gemili started training full-time only
in January and probably thought he would be running up hills as part of
Dagenham and Redbridge’s pre-season programme instead of lining up in
the Olympic Stadium.

End of the dream: Dwain Chambers missed out on a place in the final

End of the dream: Dwain Chambers missed out on a place in the final

Perhaps it was no coincidence that the best phase of his race was the last 20 metres or so.

As the athletes prepared to walk on to the track, Gemili had the disorientated look of someone asking for directions. When the camera panned to him on the start line, in a race boasting Yohan Blake and Tyson Gay, he smiled and looked embarrassed.

There was nothing wrong with that. The bravado and showboating of a 100m sprinter will come, if Gemili wants it. His promise is in the natural, unguarded way he runs.

Disappointment: James Dasaolu missed out on a place in the final

Disappointment: James Dasaolu missed out on a place in the final

His style isn’t complicated or over-thought. He just does it. This experience will only help him build the consistency needed to perform over three rounds in a major championship.

‘It is an amazing experience to make the semi-finals,’ he said. ‘I am disappointed to come third but I lost to two of the best athletes in the world.’ There is no shame in that.

No shame, either, for Dasaolu, the 25-year-old from Croydon who has suffered hamstring, calf and groin injuries over the past Olympic cycle.

He was in the same race as Asafa Powell, whom he has called his ‘hero’ in the past, and finished seventh, tying up a little at the end to clock 10.18.

It was, however, the fastest Olympic semi-final of all time. There is still plenty of time for Dasaolu too.

London 2012 Olympics: Ye Shiwen row between US and China

US and China clash over drugs row swimmer Ye after world record race

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UPDATED:

08:21 GMT, 31 July 2012

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Senior officials from the USA and China have became embroilled in a row after the latter took exception to claims about Olympic swimming sensation Ye Shiwen.

The Chinese 16-year-old, who won 400m
individual medley gold in a world-record time on Saturday, was forced to deny using drugs after a respected US coach called her gold medal-winning performance ‘unbelievable' and 'disturbing'.

But the teen defiantly claimed her victory, which saw her outpace the winner of the men’s event, came purely from ‘hard work and training’.

Record breaker: Ye Shiwen knocked five seconds off her personal best and broke the world record by more than a second as she stormed to gold in the 400m individual medley

Record breaker: Ye Shiwen knocked five seconds off her personal best and broke the world record by more than a second as she stormed to gold in the 400m individual medley

Beaten: Ryan Lochte, pictured, was slower than Ye over the last 50 metres of his own medley race

Beaten: Ryan Lochte, pictured, was slower than Ye over the last 50 metres of his own medley race

John Leonard, the US executive
director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, also made the extraordinary suggestion that the Chinese could be using genetic manipulation to enhance performances.

His claims came as anti-doping
officials revealed that cleaners and security staff have been asked to
spy on athletes in the Olympic Village and report anything suspicious
that could be linked to performance-enhancing drugs.

Outspoken: Top US swimming coach John Leonard called the feat 'unbelievable' and said history suggested doping could be involved

Outspoken: Top US swimming coach John Leonard called the feat 'unbelievable' and said history suggested doping could be involved

Miss Ye’s gold medal came after she swam the last 50m of the freestyle leg
in 28.93 seconds – compared with the 29.1 seconds that 27-year-old
American Ryan Lochte managed in the men’s event minutes earlier.

Her time for the whole event was more than five seconds better than her previous best.

Pressed on the use of drugs she told
the China News Service on Sunday night: ‘There is absolutely no problem with
doping. The Chinese have always had a firm policy about doping. My
results come from hard work and training and I would never use any
banned drugs. The Chinese people have clean hands.’

But Mr Leonard compared the final 100m
swum by Miss Ye as being ‘reminiscent’ of some old East German
swimmers, several of whom were subsequently exposed for using
performance-enhancing drugs.

He said Miss Ye looks like Superwoman,
adding: ‘Any time someone has looked like Superwoman in the history of
our sport they have later been found guilty of doping.’

If someone could outpace one of the
fastest male swimmers in the world and finish three-and-a-half lengths
ahead of her nearest female rival, he said, ‘all those things, I think,
legitimately call that swim into question’.

Proud: Ye said her success was due to her training since she was identified as a potential champion

Proud: Ye said her success was due to her training since she was identified as a potential champion

Medal winners: Ye Shiwen shows off the gold alongside the United States' Elizabeth Beisel, left, and compatriot Li Xuanxu following the final

Medal winners: Ye Shiwen shows off the gold alongside the United States' Elizabeth Beisel, left, and compatriot Li Xuanxu following the final

CHINA: A HISTORY OF DRUG USE

Questions over Shiwen's performance come after a string of Chinese swimmers tested positive for doping in recent years.

China won 12 of the 16 women's titles at the 1994 world championships in Rome but these achievements were sullied less than a month later when seven Chinese swimmers tested positive for banned drugs at the Asian Games in Hiroshima.

At the 1998 world championships in Perth, four Chinese competitors were sent home after testing positive for steroids. It came a week after one of their team mates and her coach were caught smuggling human growth hormone at Sydney Airport.

China's top backstroke swimmer and
record holder Ouyang Kunpeng, now 29, was given a lifetime ban after he
tested positive for the same substance a month before the 2008 Beijing
Olympics. The ban was later changed to two years.

In 2009, five junior Chinese swimmers were banned for two years by the country's swimming association after they tested positive for the anabolic agent clenbuterol – a performance-enhancing drug.

And in June Chinese state media said
16-year-old Li Zhesi, part of the country’s winning team at the 2009
World Championships, had tested positive for a performance-enhancing
drug, EPO, which boosts the body’s oxygen supplies.

‘It is a result that demands an explanation – it is
unprecedented,’ he told the Mail. Genetic manipulation in animals, he
said, had given added strength and oxygen usage. ‘Who knows what it can
do to humans’ he added.

And he said Miss Ye’s performance had
brought ‘back a lot of awful memories’ of Irish swimmer Michelle Smith’s
winning performance at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

Smith was banned
for four years in 1998 for tampering with a drugs test.

As a gold medal winner, Miss Ye will have been automatically drug-tested, as the first four in each race are routinely done.

On Sunday night she continued her
astonishing success by setting a new Olympic record in the semi-finals
of her best event, the 200m individual medley, with a time of 2 mins
8.39 seconds.

Jonathan Harris, London 2012’s head of
anti-doping, said that organisers had made security, cleaning, events
services and others ‘very aware of the issue of doping, so if they were
to come across practices, paraphernalia, whatever it may be, then they
would bring it to our attention and, of course, we would investigate
this and treat it as intelligence.’

A source close to the British swimming
team, who did not want to be named, said: ‘There has been a
lot of talk since Saturday about the Chinese swimmers, particularly Ye,
and how they are managing to come out of nowhere and achieve these
incredible times.

'We all know about the kind of punishing regimes the
Chinese swimmers are put through.’

One insight came on Sunday. After
winning silver in the 100m butterfly, Chinese athlete Lu Ling said: ‘In
China we’re used to study, study and train, train and then rest. I think
our way of thinking has many limits. In Australia I’ve been invited to
barbecues with my teammates – that would never happen in China.’

Officials say there have been 1,461
drug tests carried out so far in this Olympics – no results are yet
known – and that testers can take samples at any time.

Profile of Ye Shiwen

Profile of Ryan Lochte

Reminiscent The case brings to mind the scandal of Irish swimmer Michelle Smith, who won four medals in Atlanta in 1996 - but was later found to have contaminated drug tests in an attempt to hide use

Reminiscent Irish swimmer Michelle Smith won four medals in Atlanta in 1996 – but was later found to have contaminated drug tests in an attempt to hide drug use

London 2012 Olympcis: Plymouth schoolgirl Saulius Meilutis wins swimming gold for Lithuania

Plymouth schoolgirl wins swimming gold… but it's for Lithuania

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UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 30 July 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

After losing his wife and the mother of his three children, Saulius Meilutis decided to move his family from Lithuania to England for a better life.

He had two sons, both now at university, and a young daughter with a special gift for swimming.

That daughter is 15-year-old Ruta Meilutyte, and here in London she is taking the Olympics by storm. On Monday she set a new European record for the 100 metres breaststroke, swimming the fastest time in the world this year to secure her place in the final. /07/30/article-2181300-144C330C000005DC-453_634x395.jpg” width=”634″ height=”395″ alt=”Golden girl: Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte celebrates winning the women's 100m breaststroke ” class=”blkBorder” />

Golden girl: Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte celebrates winning the women's 100m breaststroke

But in her semi-final she was half a second quicker than Soni, the pre-Games favourite for gold and the Olympic champion over 200m four years ago, with a time of 1:05.21. Last night she was a fraction slower, touching in 1:05.47sec before dissolving in tears at the medal ceremony.

Prominent members of the American media were among the first to raise an eyebrow and draw comparisons with the 16-year-old Chinese swimming sensation, Ye Shiwen.

Even her English coach expressed his surprise a few hours before last night’s final.

John Rudd, the director of swimming at Plymouth College and the head coach at Plymouth Leander swimming club, told Sportsmail yesterday he expected her to swim 1:06. ‘When she swam 1:05 in the heat yesterday, I thought, “OK, we may have to re-evaluate what we are looking to achieve here”,’ he said.

Medal of honour: Meilutyte holds her gold medal

Medal of honour: Meilutyte holds her gold medal

‘It has no effect on Ruta. She didn’t know she had set a European record. She is just treating this like the Devon Championships. But she’s a major talent and hugely focused and professional for her age.’

She arrived in England with her family three years ago and was immediately enrolled at Plymouth College — the same school as British diving star Tom Daley.

Her father earns a modest salary as a carer, with her school fees covered by a sports scholarship from the school and a grant from the Lithuanian Olympic Federation.

Rudd is here in London as an official member of the Lithuanian coaching staff, so that he can remain at the side of his outstanding young athlete.

Plymouth College Olympians: Tom Daley with Ruta Meilutyte (right)

Plymouth College Olympians: Tom Daley with Ruta Meilutyte (right)

He is quick to dismiss talk of her performances being down to anything other than hard graft and ability. ‘Ruta has grown up in the last year,’ he said. ‘The physical change between 14 and 15 has, like with lots of kids, been significant. She’s filled out a lot since she won the Youth Olympics.

‘Hey look, there are some people about who don’t like getting beaten. Everyone has their good days and bad days, and if the Americans are having a bad day, I’m afraid that is hard luck.’

Rudd tells the story of an immensely gifted 15-year-old who simply lives for swimming and whose improvement is on a curve of improvement regarded as acceptable in coaching circles. Meilutyte is not obliterating world records and swimming faster than the men.

‘I have four Olympians in my group but Ruta has actually raised the bar in terms of professionalism,’ said Rudd. ‘Swimming is the most important thing in her life, and she doesn’t have that British trait of not being prepared to put the work in for what she wants.

Happy family: Meilutyte with her father, grandmother and two brothers

Happy family: Meilutyte with her father, grandmother and two brothers

‘She has a natural gift, but she is psychologically as well as physically strong. She is not fazed by any of this at all. She has a process mind. It’s like “sleep, eat, train, study”. She has friends but she doesn’t touch alcohol and she is the one who will be home by 10 o’clock.’

According to reports in Lithuania, her mother was killed when she was hit by a car when Ruta was just four years old.

‘Ruta cherishes every day of her life,’ said Rudd. ‘Her father has brought her up with the help of her grandmother, who is here after getting on a plane for the first time in her life.

‘They are humble people. There is no silver spoon in Ruta’s mouth. She has a fantastic sense of humour but she appreciates what she has and she works hard for what she achieves.’

Last night that hard work most certainly paid off. After a rival false-started, Meilutyte led from the start, turning in first place and holding off a late surge from Soni.

It was so close she had to check the scoreboard to see if she had won, and her face was a picture of stunned amazement when the one appeared alongside her name.

Even after Daley’s failure yesterday, Plymouth College still had an Olympic gold medal to cherish.