LONDON – César Cielo advanced to the final of the 50-meter freestyle on Aug. 3, where he’ll try to claim his second straight gold medal in the event after earning his country’s first gold ever in swimming in Beijing in 2008.
“I am here to swim fast – nothing more to talk about,” he told reporters.
Cielo’s best time in the 50-meter freestyle this year (21.38 seconds) is two-tenths of a second faster than American Cullen Jones, who also advanced to the final. The other six swimmers who will compete for medals are American Anthony Ervin, Trinidad & Tobago’s George Bovell, South Africa’s Roland Schoeman, France’s Florent Manaudou, Australia’s Eamon Sullivan and Brazil’s Bruno Fratus.
“My main goal is to represent my country in the best way possible and to get a gold medal in the 50,” Cielo, 25, told reporters.
Cielo had no trouble in his preliminary race, winning in 21.80 seconds before tying Jones in the semifinals, with both touching the wall in 21.54 seconds. The duo posted the fastest times in the 16-swimmer field in which those with the top-eight times advanced to the final
Cielo already is the most accomplished swimmer in Brazil’s history, as he’s won six world championships and the bronze medal in the 100-meter freestyle at the Beijing Games. He’s also the world record holder in the 50-meter freestyle (20.91 seconds) and 100-meter freestyle (46.91), but Cielo failed to place in that event in London, taking sixth on Aug. 1.
“Being the favorite counts for nothing,” he told reporters. “I am focusing on doing the best time of my life, whether or not it’s the best in history or the best in the competition.”
A victory in London would add to what has been an amazing year for Cielo, who won gold in the 50-meter freestyle and 50-meter butterfly at the FINA World Championships last year. He also won two individual events at the world championships in 2010 and 2009.
“Nowadays, the world knows that when a Brazilian is in a final, he’s there to win, not just to take part,” he told reporters. “Brazil is respected as a team.”