Ruta’s Return: Dawn Of A Different Games For Meilutyte, Anger Of 2015 Elbowed Out

Ruta Meilutyte gets her 2016 off to a new start today with a return to the pool - by Patrick B. Kraemer
Ruta Meilutyte gets her 2016 off to a new start today with a return to the pool - by Patrick B. Kraemer

Today marks the return to training of Ruta Meilutyte for the first time since she had the metal plate removed from the elbow she fractured last September. Olympic Year has dawned and we started a series on leading contenders with Michael Phelps and promises, with Clark Smith. Today, we consider the challenges facing an Olympic champion who was…

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Comments

Gin Ichi

Kazan’s Ruta seem like gaining some weight then before, like Missy. Both of them were out of shape. I remember when she lost her game, the reporter ask her how she feel, she can’t said a word, her expression looked so lost. Both Missy and Ruta didn’t prepare well enough for the WC clearly.
Well, they are young lady, already Olympics Champion at their teen, we can’t expect every lady like Ledecky – like to push themselves to win everything.

Craig Lord

Gin Ichi – Ruta was not out of shape in Kazan. Her heats times would have taken gold… This article, along with others, explains well what forces were at play. Those forces will be sunk come Rio, I would imagine… each swimmer is an individual… impossible to generalise on the basis of age.

Felix Sanchez

Her heat time would have taken gold, but it was still a step back for her.

I’m always impressed by Rudd, but a bit surprised he was so open about her mental state. It is a weakness, and not a great excuse, given the time she had to get used to the situation, and the fact that she still had things in her own hands (i.e. it would have been slightly different if it was the world record holder and Olympic champion coming back from a drug ban).

Does anyone know what sort of dry land training she was doing during the injury?

Craig Lord

Best to be open about things that unfold in public and are obvious, Felix… that way you can deal with them. Yes to the dry land question but no time to reply to that now.

Felix Sanchez

Dunno. Admitting to a bit of a mental struggle can be an encouragement to rivals, even if it was suspected.

Craig Lord

Felix, that was all known and Ruta allowed her rival to see it and was affected by it. Not suspected – real, as Jon Rudd confirmed in August and has done so a few times since. So, no news there. Changing that situation is the point being made by the article. If you admit it, are open about it (plenty of quotes from Ruta at the time in kazan) and then go home and resolve to let that go – which is what she’s been working on, you shift a great deal. And if the rival concerned were a swimmer who revels in the injustice she has generated that would only further reduce her reputation, in my view, regardless of any perceived strength she or others interpret in that way.

beachmouse

Common for teenage girls to put on a little bit of weight somewhere in the age 15-17 range. It’s not about ‘getting fat’, it’s hitting full physical maturity. While some girls have the build and metabolism to keep their age 14 physique, a lot of them don’t and will push themselves into female athlete triad territory if they try.

And while swimming isn’t as bad about the eating disorders as gymnastics, figure skating, or distance running, it’s still a problem for some.

Yozhik

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Whenever an athlete fails to be strong at the most important moment the best way to put a good face on his/her defeat is to blame it on emotions. How nicely was everything explained by the coach AFTER. Where was he BEFORE. Making a swimmer mentally ready is as much important task as getting him/her ready physically. It looks like Ruta’s problem to keep emotions under control (if it is indeed the cause) was a news for the coach, or he had no idea how to help her. He talked a lot about Ruta’s difficulties, but what about a few words of sharing responsibility for the failure.

Craig Lord

“We’re working on that.” He did, Yozhik. He did so on three occasions I know of, one of which was in Kazan (and reported in our analysis file on the W100 breaststroke final). The other was in Lund and there was a specific reason why the context of that conversation was private and will remain so. You assume too much knowledge from afar and you fail to appreciate the environment in which people work. You make harsh judgment of people and circumstance I would imagine you know very little about. That’s not the smartest thing to do, just as failing to read a label that clearly states the name of a banned substance is not the smartest thing to do and preceded the kind of ‘excuses, excuses, excuses’ label you attach to one of the swimmers in the race with a clean record.

Yozhik

Craig, you sound like you know much more than was said in your article. So instead of making personal attacks why not to share this “secret” information to everybody’s satisfaction so there would be no need for any kind of assumptions. Until so I will judge the work and attitude of this coach based on the results of his job and on whatever he said publicly. If it happens that my assumptions are incorrect because of lack of information then I have no problem to change my opinion based on new news. Until that I have no problem to make harsh judgements of people if they deserve that in my opinion.
I was really surprised with the proud statement made by this coach in Cleveland. That if he gets known that Ruta is using doping he will kick her out of the team immediately. It makes him to look nice in public speech but it is embarrassing for the swimmer unless the coach has a reason to suspect that such thing can take place. In any case I share Felix’s opinion that this gentleman is not always clever in portraying his most talented pupil. Maybe a humiliation therapy is his way to approach the problem. Let’s see.
I closely follow whatever has been happing in Ruta’s life. Based on my personal experience I know very well how her life felt like back in Lithuania and what it means to be a fresh immigrant without language and money and to be a stranger to new culture. You assume too much knowledge of her life from afar and you can be mistaken with your judgment of people and circumstance I would imagine you know very little about.
Based on your confidential information were there any talks of Ruta changing coach? Or she has no options at all.

Craig Lord

Yozhik, there are doubtless aspects of your life, professional and otherwise, that do not belong in the public domain. That is perfectly normal and acceptable. I often know more than I write and that is the better way round for a number of reasons. You call on others not to make ‘personal’ attacks yet do so yourself. Again, not the smartest thing to do. Judging people on limited information is a popular pastime. It isn’t popular with me. I think it facile and unhelpful. On a professional level, it isn’t too clever, either. You, of course, will never need to look these people in the eye and interview them and treat them with respect; I will. Ruta has lots of choices, as far as I can see – but will not be changing coach, as far as I am aware. (Your reference to Cleveland shows that you misinterpreted the words and intended meaning of that coach: there are many similar references in sport down the years, from swimming, same things said by a great many, including the likes of Dr Van Den Hoogenband, who said on several occasions that he’d ‘break Pieter’s legs’ if he ever found him using banned substances … can’t really see how that would add up to thinking that Dr Van Den Hoogenband suspected that his son was doing things he shouldn’t have been doing – that would be a perverse interpretation for me)

Garry COx

Ian Thorpe said once I think, you are not competing against other people, just the dynamics of moving your body through water in your lane, and trying for your personal best. What happens in other lanes, in doping courts etc is out of your control.
Good advice.

Craig Lord

Indeed, Garry. Same in life, though he has struggled with that, of course, as we all do to some extent in one way or another …. the human condition; but for the grace of God, etc…

felix

Well Jon you are obviously an excellent coach but great boxers are not angry in the ring and anyone couldve seen that Ruta was completely psyched out racing Efimova in Kazan who would’ve been one of many who’s doped in Kazan just one of few who’s been caught. Physically she is alot different than London and I think a medal will be tough going in Rio…..we all know she has the speed but obviously not as fearless as she was and technically there are better girls out there.

Gin Ichi

I can tell Missy and Ruta were plumper than before, just like I can tell Ledecky is stronger and taller than past three years, swimmer can’t lie to us if they are out of shape. And I know no reporter dare to ask female swimmer their weight 😛
I don’t agree the reason her coach said, blame for her opponent, really?
Her time in the heat can win the gold……tell that on 2012’s Seebohm face. And see how Seebohm proved to us last year.
He is her coach, I can understand he is protecting his student.
But really, just focus on yourself.
You made mistake, that is why you lost your gold, simple.

Craig Lord

Gin Ichi, plumper is an extremely relative term – and out of shape when talking about a swimmer who ended 2015 with the wrong outcome on the big day but at the helm of the world rankings in two events goes way too far.
You cite Seebohm. Quite. I see your point – there’s a swimmer who found it hard to simply swim in her lane and repeat her best effort from heats come the big-pressure moment … that’s not a point of criticism, for me – it is part of the challenge of sport and none find that ‘only about my performance’ zone on every occasion – it is much harder to do than to say. That swimmer learned, worked on it and this year showed how right she can get it. That won’t guarantee Olympic gold, of course.
And on that note, losing gold, history tells us, is not only a reflection of people making mistakes, among reasons that explain outcomes those from the black book of this sport and many others.
If criticism is going to be made, I would rather see it directed at those who cheat not those who get beaten, literally or psychologically, by those who fell foul of fair play.

Craig Lord

Felix, there are lots of references in sports literature to boxers harnessing anger or thoughts of before they enter the ring (some won, some did not and no telling how much anger may or may not have played a part, it seems to me – how could we possibly know that, in truth). You can’t know that Efimova was “one of many” doped and racing in Kazan – and ‘just’ is not a word I attach to being caught. Such words play down the damage inherent in all of that. Your last very generalised statement applies to many down the years, winners, podium placers and those who missed out alike, including Efimova and others who fell foul of doping rules, their straying partly a reflection of their own doubts and fears and obvious weaknesses, of course.

Gin Ichi

English is not my mother language, I try to avoid the word “fat”, so I use “plumper “.
Out of shape to me is swimmer who wasn’t at their best condition(physically).
I need to clear myself that I am not critical about Ruta.
Swimmer has up and down, it wasn’t a shame to the defending champion admit losing their crown is hard.
Missy admitted at Duel in the pool pre race interview losing her title at backstroke is really hard.
However, it is shame for her coach find an excuse, even further such an inappropriate excuse.
Learn from your mistake, that is all about.
Craig Lord, for your critical about Efimova(maybe), I remember an interview of her, she said she knows this is a race she can’t lose(in front the home crowd).
Your mind separate you with others.
Just like all your article about Ledecky try to tell us.

Craig Lord

Gin Ichi, good for you for trying to communicate in a language than is not your mother tongue; no criticism there but there are two problems I would point out in what you’ve written:
1. interpretation (not language) is wrong: not an excuse – an explanation – there is a difference. As in this: swimmer emerges from a race and says ‘I had a stomach ache’ and that does indeed sound like an excuse; swimmer emerges from a race and says ‘I broke my leg on the way to the blocks, as you saw’… that’s an explanation not an excuse. The mind can be broken, too – mostly we don’t hear about it… and it takes courage to admit and explain. I see strength there, not weakness.
2. Your last four lines – I’m afraid I don’t understand them.

Gin Ichi

If Ruta’s coach try to explain, he can said Ruta was affected by the home crowd, it was too much pressure facing the home crowd favorite.
Or his strategy for Ruta was wrong, she should swim fast at the final not the heat.
Find the mistake from yourself, not from others.
My last four lines was tried to say: your critical to those swimmers who had been test positive before, is blinding you for fair judgement.
Those who were rewarded by gold, not because they got lucky the gold just come from the sky and by coincidence drop in front of them.
Their opponent made mistake / They paid their effort for it, that is how they got their gold, like Efimova.
No matter what, at the end, all the champion are strong both physically and mentally.
Hope that no more swimmer or their coach will make any excuse for failure anymore.

Craig Lord

Gin Ichi, I read nothing in the coach’s words that suggested he was blaming the swimmer nor abdicating himself from the situation. That is your interpretation – and I believe it to be a false interpretation (and I say that as someone who knows these people and has spoken to them).
Thanks for your explanation of your opinion. Again, I think you call it wrong: the sport is stacked high with those who won not because an opponent made a mistake but because the winner was flushed with the bad stuff, so I don’t take your analysis as anything beyond surface thought.
As to Efimova, she is not a champion in my mind (she stopped the clock first) – that requires at least a minimal level of respect for those you race. In Kazan – in interviews with the media lacking even a hint of regret or any sense of apology, and in using the excuse of ‘oops, didn’t read the label that told me banned substance’, in likening her doping positives to minor traffic offences and so forth, she bypassed the notions of Fair Play and respect by a wide margin and demonstrated weakness of character unbecoming of the term ‘champion’ when applied to a sporting contest under rules that call on you to play fair.
Whether you regard judgement as fair or not is irrelevant. Ask me not for fair judgement before you ask her and others for fair play.

EM Forster

I don’t have enough up-to-date information to assess what impact Efimova had on Ruta psychologically in Kazan.

Nonetheless as one of the few people lucky enough to have worked with both Jon and Ruta, I can assure you, Gin Ichi, that neither of them are making excuses or claiming to do everything perfectly.

In my opinion, one of the attributes of Jon and Ruta’s relationship which makes them such a force to be reckoned with is their ability to discard and leave aside excuses yet objectively reflect on explanations for ‘poor’ (or disappointing) performances.

Instead of making excuses for a poor performance or just digging their (collective) head in the sand and carrying on blindly as before, Jon and Ruta have explained the problem, are addressing it in training and are confident enough about their ability to overcome it that they have spoken publicly about it.

I can sort of understand why that might not seem like a display of courage and strength to a casual or skeptical outsider, however with Rio approaching quickly I’m glad I’m not a female sprint breaststroker!

Yozhik

@Craig Lord. If this article was about putting to shame Yulia Efimova one more time then I am sorry I missed this clever trick – “Who won’t get angry with this cheater who stole the gold medal from those who deserved it most?” To my excuse I wasn’t alone who was not that smart to read this story between lines. After Efimova made the analogy with the suspended license, I knew that she is not a dumb teenager who get confused with drugs under peer pressure or the person who was forced in wrong doing by officials. No, nothing like that. We are dealing with the cold blood calculated cheater who openly exhibited a brazen disregard for any rules saying that it is worth to be suspended in the period that has neither WC no OG especially when the drug usage has a long lasting effect and the ban is actually a ban on papers only.

Yozhik

@Craig Lord. I hope that one day you will tell us a full story about Jon and Ruta but not a carefully selected facts to make us think in predetermined by you direction. I sincerely hope it would be a Cinderella fair tell where a poor girl found the prince in the face of her coach who opened for her the door to and led by hand into happiness and prosperity. Yes, Craig I haven’t look in eyes of Jon and Ruta as you probably did, but there has been some pattern observed that may suggest that not everything is that cloudless in Jon and Ruta relationships. Saying about psychological difficulties is the absolute prerogative of swimmer but not her coach. The Schmitt’s story is a good example of that. Using such facts publicly by coach to explain their failure (or just swimmer’s failure only) doesn’t look right to me.
You example of Dr. Van Den Hoogenband’s relationships with his son doesn’t fit this story at all. He was a father who provided and sacrificed much more than coach does to be excused for saying such words. To hear that from coach who seemingly can easily suspect such things to happen is absolutely different and unacceptable thing. Ruta has lost her mother being four years old child. She may need more than anything else this warm and care to make her able to control her emotions and see the right way. She definitely doesn’t need to be scared by bonecrusher.
And the last thing in this endless dispute. I have no pleasure of attacking you personally. If you found something like that in my comments it was an excerption from your response to me. I’m sorry for not using quote marks. That’s why you probably didn’t recognize it. By your response I understood that you know now how it feels.

Craig Lord

Yozhik, I think you should read EM Forster’s note – it takes you much closer to where your mind needs to be in search of truth. Beyond that – there are few sacrifices in sport – most of these people choose to be there and gain from it – as Mel Marshall says ‘we don’t work in A&E’ – and neither do parents… they give and gain)

Felix Sanchez

Given were this conversation has gone, a bit reluctant to wade back in, but Craig, have you not conflated the idea of admitting something to yourself (and your coach/inner circle) with ‘openness’ to the world? There’s no value in sharing your process or troubles with outsiders.

Meilutyte was outspoken (probably also a mistake), but that’s not the same as admitting its affect on herself. Even if everyone suspects a link to her performance, making it explicit to your rivals makes it more real – and saying something three times just reinforces it.

Again, generally very impressed with Rudd and glad to hear from him, but still can’t quite agree with this.

Yozhik

@CL. I found EM Forster’s comment very balanced and straight forward and am satisfied with it. He(?) sounds like he knows what he is talking about and I accept his view and position.

Yozhik

@Felix Sanchez. There is no value to air someone’s dirty laundry in public. If this was done then there was a reason. All this discussion as I understand was about that reason. My original opinion that I don’t support any more was that it was a desire to put a good face on Meilutyte’s bad performance at WC final. Others’ve made a suggestion which i don’t share neither that it was kind of confession act to clear the way for new coming success. I think now after so many opinions were told that the truth is somewhere in between.

Craig Lord

Felix, I think it important to note that it was all in the open, very much so, back in August. I see no harm for it to be known that Ruta Meilutyte, with hurdles galore to clear this time round, has worked on a ‘weakness’ that kept her from best (one that actually affects a fair few more than we know about, some of whom never do shake it off even when the process is not in the public domain but known to others in swimming)

ThereaLuigi

Come on guys. What is all this “she should race her own race” non-sense? Do you seriously believe it possible, especially for a teenager who tends to see the world in black & white, to NOT be affected in her performance by what she perceives as a great injustice? I would be furious, old fart that I am. Think about the level of commitment and dedication, the endless hours it took to be there where she has been the past 3 years, and she had to face the very real possibility of being beaten by someone she had reason to believe cheated to get there. You make it sound too easy.
As for Thorpe, he readily admitted that although “swimming your own race” is ideal, he himself not always managed to achieve this Taoist-monk level of inner peace and detachment.

Yozhik

All you said Luigi is a hundred percent accurate. The problem is that there are no adults, but coach around her who could explain teenager that there are other colors in this world, not only black&white. What is coach good for if not for that. He has her for more than five years. After reading all this story it is very easy to jump to the conclusion that either this coach doesn’t care much considering that it is first of all a summer’s business to make herself a first class swimmer no matter how young and maybe immature she is. Or he doesn’t know how to handle this situation. Or he missed the problem and got aware of it just after failure has happened. Or Meilutyte is a clinical unmanageable psychopath.
I don’t want to start again all this dispute, but your black&white story makes me very sorry for Rita.
BTW, Craig she is still 18, not 19.

Craig Lord

Yozhik, it is your interpretation that is black and white – and woefully lacking in knowledge of coach, swimmer and program (you’d have to have worked closely with them to know that kind of stuff … or at the very least have spoken to them about it). Your take is one-dimensional based on your interpretation of one story and full of judgement of a swimmer and a coach you don’t know (you have no idea if it is b&w or a v colourful Monet, have you?). What you seem to have is a bee in your bonnet. Let it out 🙂 The Leander program is connected to a college and two universities. There are protocols in place and a great deal of care and attention has gone into Ruta’s life and time in Plymouth, with Jon among those who has been there to do more than coach – and that part of the story we have covered – follow the links. ThereaLuigi is right. 19th year, tweaked 🙂

ThereaLuigi

It’s always difficult to express yourself in another language. I was inaccurate with the “black & white” sentence. What I really meant to say is that as a young man or woman you are kind of a Manichee and perceived injustices hurt even more than they do later in life. By the time you get older, you are more used to them, and perhaps a few times you have been on the giving end rather than the receiving. To let a cheater swim after a very lenient punishment is a great injustice from any point of view, but I imagine that it is even harder to swallow for a kid, and I have no trouble believing that it would affect his or her performance. I put myself in the coach’ shoes and I can’t really blame him if this time he didn’t manage to channel that rage in a great performance. Human beings are complex, young human beings even the more so. This is the same coach who led this girl to olympic glory at a very young age, so let’s give him some credit!

Yozhik

TLDR(Too Long Don’t Read)
Craig, data interpretation and a risk management is what I am doing for living. Sport psychology as a study of human behavioral instincts is not much different from models that I have to deal with. Lecturing me with my nasty personality and repeating again and again that whatever interpretation I am making is incorrect just because I know nothing doesn’t make your arguments stronger and is much disrespectful toward me as I am toward this coach. You like him – fine. I don’t really care about him. But I do care what will happen to Ruta Meilutyte. Please, don’t send me to your articles. I read them all. Many times, filtering facts from dramatization and half-said. I have to admit that this site added a lot to my knowledge about Ruta. Thank you for that. So whatever you share with us of what you know I know as well. The analysis of statements made by Joh Rudd at different venues after WC and the way how he is referring to Ruta made me worrying that this team doesn’t know yet how to beat Efimova in Rio.
With your help we know the coach Rudd’s interpretation of what was told him by his swimmer after race and I don’t buy it as a correct one. It does have some sense, but just some. I am not even sure when the anger came to the picture – before the race, after it or at last 20m when Meilutyte didn’t find either will or resource to finish strong. Changing strategy from semi to final was not successful. Efimova on the other hand showed impressive stability, mental and physical from semi to final, charging from behind. After semis it was obvious that Ruta had to go out faster. But making it almost half a second faster appeared to be a disaster – she became more than a second slower on the way home.
Semi ( they’ve swum in different heats)
Efimova (1:05.60) 30.70 34.90
Meilutyte (1:05.64) 30.60 35.04
Final
Efimova (1:05.66) 30.76 34.90
Meilutyte (1:06.36) 30.27 36.09
Nothing new to be so dramatic. Take Heemskirk for example at 200m freestyle final. If this coach showed us that Ruta consistently could keep up with such strategy in practices then I would understand his point. But he’s chosen the easiest way simply blaming swimmer’s(!!!) failure on evil presence of Efimova.
Craig, I have to admit that I maybe too sensitive to tactless acts especially if it is a coach. To understand my point imagine some important yearly conference with a lot of big names in swimming and media coverage. Imagine next that famous Olympic Champion Meilutyte makes a speech about specifics in training of children. And she says: “We must be strongly uncompromised by being a model for kids. If I just catch my coach Jon Rudd molesting underage girls I will report to police no matter what”. I think Jon will be very happy to hear that, and especially his wife if he is married.

Craig Lord

Yozhik. You’re talking about people you don’t know. It isn’t wise. You reach conclusions and put a great deal of energy into generalisations that lead to dead-ends. As to kids standing up and saying the kinds of things you suggest, I think it perfectly reasonable – and would hope every coach out there does.
If a coach does not send the message ‘dope and you’re gone’ you end up with Trojan and Efimova (and that was the context of much of the questions put to coaches and swimmers – Rudd among them, when the Russian swimmer leapt back in at the helm of the world rankings just over a year after a lenient ban was imposed … context is important and why I invited you to follow the links, even if you have, as you suggest, read it all).
If parents and kids do not stand up and say ‘we support our coach and we follow the good values of our club’ and all coaches and other staff need to know that ‘yes, abuse will lead to prosecution’ then you end up with the banned for life lists we see in the USA many, many years after the matter should have been dealt with but neither culture nor governance structures allowed until very recently.
There are moment when such things need to aired. Publicising the damage done to a clean athlete by one who fell foul of doping rules need not be the all-dark-and-negative you suggest it is.
As to Jon, he is indeed married, for the second time, both families with children. He spoke about that in Lund. He and others close to or at Leander have spoken about the good care and attention inherent in his program.
You write as if you are somehow thinking more deeply than the rest of us who beg to differ. I believe you are closer to the surface than you think and limiting your care to one human being over another is a mistake.
I think your points would be more palatable if you didn’t attack people and situations you are not close to and assume too much knowledge about.
I’d suggest a gentler, more thoughtful approach. My last word on this beyond saying that nothing is too long to read if the reader feels it worth reading (and that is often so even if the reader doesn’t see the worth in it 🙂

Yozhik

@CL. 🙂 🙂 I’ve never suspected before how addictive this arguing process can become. Let’s get out of it and don’t waste our time. With the respect of your privilege for last word I wish you and all your untouchable Holy Cows happy and successful Olympic Year 🙂 🙂

Craig Lord

I’m certainly not untouchable (and i have no Holy Cows, far too much trouble), Yozhik – just that your take on this one hasn’t touched me yet 🙂 I’ll also stick to my guns if I think someone is being treated unfairly … that was my main concern in the argument (or a ‘discussion on a point of disagreement’ as a PR man for a media company, in his attempt to calm rattled nerves, once described a blazing stand-up row that almost came to blows between two bosses popping blood vessels as they spat at each other in the middle of the offices for all to witness 🙂 Not a dry eye in the house. Happy 2016 to you too.

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