BERKELEY, California, December 16. THE wildfire that Qatar has ignited in its recruitment of top-flight athletes could be spreading following a report in the Lithuanian newspaper, The Lietuvos Rytas. According the newspaper report, Rolandas Gimbutis is on the cusp of accepting a lucrative offer to swim for Qatar, which recently acquired the services of Croatian Duje Draganja.
A two-time Olympic sprinter who trains at the University of California under the tutelage of Mike Bottom, Gimbutis has reportedly been offered $10,000 per month to represent Qatar. The 24-year-old has apparently given a verbal acceptance to the offer and could soon sign a deal. Gimbutis’ father discussed the advantages of accepting the offer in the newspaper story.
"Money is needed for Rolandas' studies,” said Romas Gimbutis. “At the moment our account is empty. But there will be no agreement with Qatar until we receive first money."
At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Gimbutis advanced to the semifinals of the 100 freestyle and has established himself as a player on the international scene with a personal-best time of 48.75. The pursuit shown by Qatar is further evidence that the nation is intent on building an all-star unit. While Draganja opted to take the offer from Qatar, South Africa’s Roland Schoeman declined to change nationalities.