Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The NST : SWIMMING: Ruta lights up Barcelona

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Lithuanian lass smashes 100m breaststroke world record

LITHUANIAN teenager Ruta Meilutyte lit up the second day of action at the World Championships with the first world record of the week as Brazil, Australia, Hungary and Sweden all struck gold at Barcelona's hilltop Palau Sant Jordi on Monday.

Following up on her Olympic title in London last year, the 16-year-old Ruta scorched to a time of one minute 04.35 seconds in the semi-finals of the 100 metres breaststroke, shaving a tenth off the previous record of 1:04.45 set by American Jessica Hardy in 2009.

Cesar Cielo of Brazil claimed a second consecutive 50m butterfly title, Australia's Christian Sprenger took gold in the 100m breaststroke and there were triumphs for Katinka Hosszu of Hungary in the 200m individual medley and Swedish teenager Sarah Sjostrom in the 100m butterfly.

Katinka's race produced the biggest surprise of the day when Olympic champion Ye Shiwen of China failed to defend her title from the 2011 championships in Shanghai and finished outside the medals in fourth.

Ruta, who trains in England and is chasing the tiny Baltic nation's first world championship gold, had already gone close to the world record in her heat on Monday morning with a time of 1:04.52.

She then became the first Lithuanian woman to break a swimming world record since the country gained its independence from the Soviet Union more than two decades ago.

Improving on Jessica's time had been "one of her dreams" and was more important than winning yesterday's final but a gold would nonetheless be the "cherry on the cake", Ruta told reporters.

Australia came into the championships hoping to put a woeful performance at the London Olympics behind them and Sprenger gave them just the tonic they were seeking when he came from behind to beat Olympic champion and world record holder Cameron Van Der Burgh of South Africa in the day's opening final.

Van Der Burgh, who was coming back from a knee injury, led at the turn but Sprenger powered through to touch in a time of 58.79 seconds, with the South African just behind in 58.97. Felipe Lima of Brazil took bronze with 59.65.

Victory for Brazilian Cielo, a gold medallist in Shanghai, made him only the second man to win the 50 metres butterfly twice after South African Roland Schoeman.

In a relatively slow race, Cielo touched in 23.01 seconds and was close to tears on the podium as his national anthem boomed out around the arena. American Eugene Godsoe took silver in 23.05 and Fred Bousquet of France was third in 23.11.

"The final is not the time to swim fast, the final is the time to touch first and I'm not surprised we swam a little slower tonight," Cielo, 26, told reporters.

Sarah, who won the 100m butterfly at the 2009 championships in Rome, reclaimed the title after a fourth-place finish in Shanghai.

The 19-year-old touched in a time of 56.53 seconds, while Australia's Alicia Coutts repeated her silver from 2011 with 56.97. Olympic champion and world record holder Dana Vollmer of the US was third in 57.24.

Alicia went on to claim another silver in the 200m medley which may help make up for the disappointment of surrendering the lead to the US on the final leg of Sunday's 4x100 freestyle.
Hungary's Katinka, sixth in Shanghai and a bronze medallist in Rome in 2009, led on all four legs and touched in a time of two minutes and 07.92 seconds.

Alicia finished in 2:09.39, repeating her second place from 2011, and Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia held off Shiwen and delighted the home support with bronze in 2:09.45 before dedicating her medal to the victims of last week's train crash in Galicia. Reuters

Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte swims to new world record of 1:04.35 in a 100m breaststroke semi-final at the World Championships on Monday. Inset : Ruta. AP pic

Read more: SWIMMING: Ruta lights up Barcelona - Other - New Straits Times

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