CORDOVA, Argentina, December 23. WORLD Short Course 50 meter freestyle champion Jose Meolans of Argentina was assaulted, along with his family and fiancee last Saturday, when two armed youths broke into his parents' home in Villa Carlos Peace, Argentina.
Last April, Meeolans, 24, became the first Argentinian to win a world swimming title when he took the 50m freestyle in Moscow at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships. He also earned a silver medal in the 100 meter freestyle.
Meolans' 80 year-old grandfather, Angel, fought off the attackers, who fired several shots and then fled without taking anything from the home.
The assault, which took place shortly after 9:30 p.m. last Saturday, was "a terrible experience," said Raul Meolans. "We are still shaking," he told the radio station, "The Voice of the Interior."
The family, including Jose's father, mother, Isabel Oberto, grandfather, and fiancee, Sandra, were gathered in the Meolans family home in Gold Beach, on the outskirts of Villa Carlos Peace, for a dinner celebrating Jose's success in 2002.
"I was giving a piece of meat to my papa," said Raul Meolans, father of the swimmer, "when I saw a young man on the patio pointing a weapon at all of us.
"Meanwhile, another attacker had entered the house through the front door, which was open. The delinquents put their guns to Jose's and Sandra's heads and threatened to kill them.
While the attackers were looking for money and valuables, 80-year-old Angel Meolans rushed the man who had a gun to Jose's head, and both men rolled to the floor, punching each other, according to Raul Meolans.
"The delinquent fired his gun but luckily, the shot went into the air and did not hit anyone. I thank God that no one was hit, because that type would have killed my papa without hesitation. He also could have killed my son or his fiancèe."
After the struggle, both attackers fled into the night.
Searches by neighbors and the police of Regional Unit 3 were fruitless.
"The entire assault lasted less than three minutes," said Raul Meolans, "but it was very ugle and left us all badly shaken.
"Jose was unable to sleep the entire night," his father said.
Jose Meolans cancelled a scheduled trip Sunday morning to Buenos Aires, where he was to have been honored for his achievements.