Ruta Meilutyte has won Lithuania’s first ever Olympic gold in the swimming pool by beating red hot favorite American Rebecca Soni in the women’s 100m breaststroke.
The 15-year-old led from the start and held on to beat the fast-finishing Soni by 0.08 seconds.
“I can’t believe it,” said a stunned Meilutyte immediately after the dramatic race. “It’s too much for me.”
Having set a new European record in the heats – a mark that beat her personal best by two seconds – Meilutyte swam even faster in the semi-finals on Sunday to qualify fastest for the final ahead of world champion and Beijing silver medallist Soni.
The gold was Lithuania’s first medal of the London Olympics.
Meilutyte is trained in Plymouth by English coach Jon Rudd, and he said that a fast swim had been “brewing for a while.”
“We didn’t realistically know what she would do,” he told BBC Sport. “The Olympics are a funny place. We concentrated on her [training] process and she is amazing at that.
“She doesn’t want me to talk about anyone else. She says ‘just tell me what I have to do,'” – and oh how she did what she “had to do.”