Ruta Meilutyte

Ruta Meilutyte adds Olympic star power to Nanjing Games

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The Nanjing Youth Olympic athlete bios include a section called “Sporting Achievements.” For one Lithuanian swimmer at the Games, written in that category is “Gold in London Olympic Games.”

Ruta Meilutyte, the reigning Olympic 100m breaststroke champion, is one of the most familiar names among about 3,800 athletes competing at the second Youth Olympics.

How could somebody who won Olympic gold be eligible for the Youth Olympics? Well, Meilutyte stunned in London when she was 15. The Youth Olympics include athletes up to 18 years old.

So, even U.S. star Katie Ledecky, 17 like Meilutyte, is eligible for Nanjing (Ledecky is in Australia for the Pan Pacific Championships next week rather than Nanjing).

Schedule of NBC Olympics, Universal Sports coverage of Youth Olympics

NBC will air Youth Olympics coverage from 3-4 p.m. ET on Sunday (as will NBC Sports Live Extra). NBCSN’s coverage continues from 8-10 p.m. ET (also on NBC Sports Live Extra).

Meilutyte is entered in the 50m and 100m breaststrokes in Nanjing, as well as the 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley.

Her world record in the 50m breast (29.48) is nearly two seconds faster than anyone else’s personal best among the Nanjing field. Her world record in the 100m breast (1:04.35) is more than four seconds faster than the field.

The Lithuanian’s march to add Youth Olympic gold to her London title begins on the first day of medal competition Sunday with 50m breast heats and semifinals and the 200m IM heats and final.

Youth Olympics Opening Ceremony a festive production (photos)

Ashton Eaton named male IAAF Athlete of the Year

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American decathlete Ashton Eaton was named the 2015 male Athlete of the Year by the International Association of Athletics Federations, the world governing body for track and field. Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba, the reigning world champion in the 1500m, was named the female IAAF Athlete of the Year.

Eaton is the first decathlete and just the eighth American man to win the title. Tyson Gay in 2007 was the last American man to be named.

The honor came due to Eaton’s world-record-setting performance at the world championships held in Beijing this past August. There he beat the previous record, his own from the 2012 Olympic Trials, by nine points. He also set a world record for running the fastest 400m portion of the decathlon in 45.00 seconds.

In the IAAF press release, Eaton said, “Athletes spend the most vigorous years of human life, arguably called the ‘best years’, working to hone their abilities. So, when an athlete competes, what people are witnessing is the manifestation of what a human being is capable of when they choose to direct all of their time and effort towards something.

“I’m grateful and thankful to the IAAF for excellent competitions, the canvases that allow us to display our work.”

He also acknowledged sprinter Usain Bolt and triple jumper Christian Taylor, who were also up for the title: “While I’m honored that I am considered the ‘artist’ of the year, I did not beat Usain and Christian; my work simply differed in design. They are some of the most talented and beautiful performers of all time. I’m flattered to be among them.”

Dibaba has been unbeaten in the 1500m over five races in 2015. Along with winning gold and setting a world record in the 1500 at the Beijing World Championships, Diababa won a bronze medal in the 5000m event.

She gratefully accepted the award, saying, “After being a finalist and narrowly missing out on this award one year ago, I am very proud to be recognized by the fans and experts of our sport.

“I had a great season and truly enjoyed competing around the world, from Monaco where I managed to establish a world record, to Beijing where I finally captured my first world outdoor title.”

Dibaba was recently featured in a family-themed promotional video for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

MORE: Seb Coe splits from Nike as IAAF president


Olympians celebrate Thanksgiving

Meryl Davis
Team USA/ Twitter
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Nov. 26 – or Thanksgiving to the rest of us – is oftentimes a typical training day for many Olympians and Olympic hopefuls. Here’s a look at how some of them spent the day training, competing, celebrating, and being thankful.

Workout football and food😁👍!!! Happy thanksgiving everyone!!!

A photo posted by Michael Phelps (@m_phelps00) on

Happy Thanksgiving from our cold cuts Turkey to yours! #family #happyhappyheart

A photo posted by @cammileadams on

Happy Thanksgiving from the SwimMAC Parade crew!

A photo posted by Tyler Clary (@tylerclary) on


MORE: NBC’s Thanksgiving Rio promo