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18/1/2013
Teenage sensation Ruta Meilutyte signs sponsorship agreement with Arena

Tolentino, 18 January 2013 – Arena, one of the world’s leading swimwear brands, is pleased to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Lithuania’s teenage sensation, Ruta Meilutyte. The 15-year-old, who stunned the swimming world by winning the Olympic 100m breaststroke gold medal in London, will start swimming under the three diamond banner starting in 2013.

Meilutyte was born on 19th March, 1997, in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, and as a child she was hyperactive and physically very strong. She started swimming at the age of seven, and after a year’s hiatus to play basketball, returned to the pool a few months before her 11th birthday.

It wasn’t long before she started posting results. At the Italian Brescia Swimming Club’s Luciana Memorial in 2008, she won a bronze medal in 100m freestyle and came fourth in 100m breaststroke, and in 2009 she broke three Lithuanian under 13 records (SC), two of which (200m free, 100m IM) are still standing. A year later she won the best female swimmer award while competing in the youngest age group at the Anyksciai International Sprint Festival, and at the International Children's Games in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, she won two golds (in 50m and 100m breaststroke), a silver (50m free) and a bronze (400m medley relay).

In 2010 she also moved with her father and two older brothers to Plymouth, England, where she teamed up with current coach Jon Rudd at the Plymouth Leander Swimming programme. In July of the same year, at the British Gas ASA National Age Group Championships she won a gold medal in 100m breaststroke, silver in 100m free, and bronze in 200m IM, swimming inside the British National 100m breaststroke Age Group record as well as taking the Lithuanian senior record held by the renowned Lina Kaciusyte since 1978.

These phenomenal results were just the beginning, and in January 2011 at Euro-Meet in Luxembourg she won an incredible seven gold medals, five in her age group and two in the open class (50m and 100m breaststroke). Later in the year at the European Youth Summer Olympic Festival in Trabzon, Turkey, she won the 100m breaststroke gold, the 50m freestyle silver, and the 100m freestyle bronze, breaking her own Lithuanian records in every swim.

Her winning streak continued into 2012 when she won 50m and 100m breaststroke golds at both the Nancy Long Course Invitational (January) and Mare Nostrum in Monaco (June), while also winning 100m breast at the British GAS Swimming Championships in March. During her preparations for the Olympics – as the youngest Olympian in Lithuanian history – she once again broke the national 100m freestyle record, set a new mark at the 200m distance, and also broke the 50m breaststroke national record just six weeks before the Games.

She went on to compete in both the 50m and 100m freestyle events in London, but never progressed beyond the heats, although she set a new national record in the sprint. However, it was her efforts in the 100m breaststroke that made the swimming world sit up and take notice. Meilutyte swam the fastest times in both the heats and semi-finals, taking nearly two seconds off her personal best, and breaking the European record with a time of 1:05.21 in the semi-final. In the final, she led from the front, but had to hold off a strong challenge from Arena swimmer Rebecca Soni to win the gold. It was Lithuania’s first Olympic medal in the pool.

Meilutyte’s Olympic feats weren’t the last of her major medals for the year, as she went on to win both the 50m and 100m breaststroke events at the FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup in Stockholm, and put in another dominating performance at December’s World SC Championships in Istanbul. In the 50m breaststroke efforts, she broke the Lithuanian, Championship, and European records in the heats, semi-finals, and final, and then did the same in the 100m breaststroke final for her second gold medal of the Championships. She also picked up a silver medal in the 100m IM.

Ruta’s entry into the Arena Elite Team ranks adds to an already strong breaststroke stable, which includes the other three breaststroke gold medallists (and world record holders) from London – Rebecca Soni (USA), Cameron van der Burgh (South Africa), and Daniel Gyurta (Hungary). Arena is also the sponsor of the Lithuanian Swimming Federation, and Meilutyte’s coach Jon Rudd is also one of the Lithuanian national team coaches. Meilutyte’s gold in London builds on a proud Lithuanian breaststroke history, which includes Moscow gold medallists Lina Kaciusyte and Robertas Zulpa (both 200m breaststroke) swimming under the USSR flag.

“We are really thrilled to have recruited Ruta, one of the world’s most incredible swimming talents,” said Giuseppe Musciacchio, Arena General Manager – Brand Development. “After her phenomenal performances at the 2012 Olympics, it’s hard to believe she still has four years to go as a teenager. At Arena, she will join a powerful breaststroke group with Rebecca, Cameron, Daniel, and Yuliya, but as she already demonstrated in London, she will be far from out of her depth. It’s also encouraging to recruit an individual swimmer from one of the federations that we sponsor, and coming on the back of the Elite Team’s stellar performance at the Games, along with Arena’s recent agreements with the US and Dutch Swimming Federations, it caps a notable period in the company’s history. I am sure it’s not a coincidence that Ruta joins us at such a buoyant moment in the Arena story – I am convinced that with the three diamonds she will go on to write her own name into the record books, and we look forward to watching her progress over the coming years.”

"Ruta Meilutyte is a phenomenal athlete, and a truly exceptional case in Lithuanian swimming history. – said Tomas Kucinskas, President of Lithuanian Federation, She is not only an extremely disciplined and dedicated swimmer, but is also a wonderful person, who cares greatly about many issues affecting her home country. Due to both her sporting achievements and her lovely mannerisms, Ruta has soon become a real hero in Lithuania. She had a really successful 2012, which we believe is just the beginning of her long and wonderful future.
We want to congratulate both Arena and Ruta on their new relationship, which will help towards Ruta's future development, and that of Lithuanian Swimming."

“I am really pleased to be working with Arena – it is a brand that I respect and I favour their racing suits over any other. - said Ruta Meilutyte - I’m working hard with my coach Jon Rudd to prepare for the World Championships this summer and hopefully everyone will see me in Barcelona, racing in an Arena suit and with them supporting me all the way”