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Meilutyte gears up for gold at Youth Olympics, China top table

NANJING China (Reuters) - London Games gold medalist Ruta Meilutyte cruised through to the women's 100 meters breaststroke final at the Youth Olympic Games on Tuesday, while China surged to the top of the medals table on the third day of competition in Nanjing.

Lithuanian Meilutyte, the world record holder over 50m in the discipline, will swim for her second gold of the Games on Wednesday before hopping on a plane to Berlin bound for the European Championships.

Also making waves on Tuesday was Swiss sharp shooter Sarah Hornung, who took gold in the women's 10m air rifle competition after a tense duel with Singapore's Martina Lindsay Veloso.

"I knew that a medal was there but I didn’t know which one," said Hornung. "I just knew if I could fight again, I would reach it."

Canadian Tony Gil was also on target when he notched a hole-in-one at the Games' golfing competition. The 16-year-old holed out with a seven iron at the par three third.

Gil's compatriots on the women's rugby team showed they had the stomach for a fight by overcoming home favorites China 26-19 to set up a gold medal game against powerhouse Australia, who thrashed the United States 33-0 in the other semi-final.

Argentina will meet France in the men's final.

The 13-day multi-sport event, which debuted in Singapore four years ago, kicked-off on something of a sour note at the weekend when Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria withdrew due to the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Despite the rough start, Han Dong, assistant director of the marketing department for Nanjing's Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee, said at a media briefing on Tuesday the Games were proving a big hit.

"For 80 percent of the competition, the tickets have been sold," said Han. "Now the events are in full swing we expect more ticket sales.

"About half of the tickets have been sold to young people or families. About 70 percent have been sold locally in Nanjing."

PARENTS BANNED

Crowds poured in to the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre for Tuesday's swimming action and saw Meilutyte qualify fastest for the 100m breaststroke final in 1:07.83.

Meilutyte, who won the event at the London Olympics as a 15-year-old, told the Youth Games official website she was over the shoulder issue that had prompted her to pull out of the 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley in Nanjing.

“It doesn’t hurt me on the breaststroke, which is the most important thing," said Meilutyte, who won gold in the 50m breaststroke on Monday. "It’s calmed down a lot now and it’s great to just be able to race and not feel any pain.”

Meilutyte plans to leave for the European Championships in Germany straight after Wednesday's 100m final.

"I hope to get some quality rest and fight off any jetlag and do well in Berlin,” she added.

British swimmers got their first gold of the Games in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay, while Shen Duo, in the women's 100m freestyle, and Li Zhuhao, in the men's 100m butterfly, won gold for hosts China.

Li's parents may never be allowed to watch their son swim again after he clocked 52.49 seconds to win gold.

"I banned my mum and my dad from the stadium, they had to watch in front of the TV," he said. "Having them here wouldn’t make me nervous, but my mum would be too excited, so I would worry."

Nerves did get the better of Russian weightlifter Anastasia Petrova, who lost out to Taiwan's Chang Nien-Tsin in the women's 58kg competition after a botched final attempt.

"I made a mistake in the last snatch attempt. I was overwhelmed, I freaked out," said Petrova. "I was so angry that the barbell dropped. I just could not hold my nerve."

China lead the medals table with six gold medals, ahead of Russia on five and Hungary on four.

(Writing by Peter Rutherford in Seoul; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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