Lithuania’s Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte won the women’s 100m breaststroke gold medal on July 30, a day after setting the new world record, as teenagers led the way at the swimming world championships, reports AFP. The 16-year-old Lithuanian set the world record of 1 min 04.35 in Monday’s 100m breaststroke semi-finals before fellow 16-year-old Katie Ledecky of the USA smashed the 1,500m freestyle record on Tuesday in Barcelona.
In the women’s 100m breaststroke final later on Tuesday, Meilutyte won gold after clocking 1 min 04.42 secs, just seven hundredths of a second outside her own day-old record.
Russia’s Yuliya Efimova claimed silver at 0.60 sec back with Jessica Hardy of the USA, 1.10 adrift for bronze.
With 18-year-old Missy Franklin having claimed two of the eight gold medals she is bidding for, teenagers are setting the pace in Barcelona, said Meilutyte.
“I think it is great that young people are stepping up,” she said, having won the Olympic title in London as a 15-year-old.
Meilutyte said she has learnt how to cope with the pressure of racing at a major event in the wake of her London triumph. “I got a bit more experience from the Olympics, so that makes things easier and just being in the atmosphere, but I still have lots of things to learn,” she said.
“Pressure doesn’t really bother me, to be honest, I could feel a lot of people watching me, but I just went out there and did my best,” she added.
Bronze medalist Hardy, whose four-year-old mark Meilutyte broke, expressed no regrets at watching her world record fall. “To watch her break my record last night was really fun,” said the 26-year-old Hardy, who set the previous world record of 1 min 04.45 sec in August 2009.
“She is an awesome competitor and to race someone who is so good and so kind is great. I almost quit the event in the last couple of years, so it is really fun to swim so fast and race such a great field.”