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Cielo brings home Brazil's first swimming gold

Cielo brings home Brazil's first swimming gold

A gold medal around his neck, Cesar Cielo couldn't stop crying.
The emotions poured out of the 21-year-old Brazilian after he won his country's first Olympic swimming gold, edging an all-star field in the 50-meter freestyle Saturday.
Cielo, a nine-time NCAA champion at Auburn University in the United States, touched the wall in 21.30 seconds, an Olympic record and ahead of French duo Amaury Leveaux (21.45) and Alain Bernard (21.49).
In addition to those two, Cielo also had to beat the defending world champion, American Ben Wildman-Tobriner, and the world record-holder, Australia's Eamon Sullivan. Wildman-Tobriner finished fifth, one spot ahead of Sullivan.
Cielo got to the wall first in swimming's most furious race _ an all-out sprint from one end of the pool to the other, usually with only one or two breaths.
"It's the 50 meters _ there's no limits," Cielo said. "Today was my day. It came out well. I was able to achieve the gold medal, which I have wanted for a very long time."
Cielo received his gold medal, then broke down as the Brazilian anthem played and his country's flag was raised to the rafters of the Water Cube.
He cried. And cried. And cried.
The fans began clapping when they noticed Cielo's very public display, and the cheers continued as he sobbed his way around the pool deck with the other medalists, then collapsed into the arms of his Brazilian teammates.
"This is something I've been doing my whole life. I'm so overcome with emotion," he said. "I will continue to struggle and work hard. Hopefully this is the start of many good things to come."
While barely noticed at Auburn, a school deep in the heart of college football country where he majors in international business, Cielo is immensely popular in his own country. His curly blond hair and lean 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) frame make him instantly recognizable when he's out in public.
He turned pro after this year's NCAA championships and has already signed with a couple of corporate sponsors.
Cielo will be getting a lot more attention after winning two medals in Beijing. He added gold to the bronze he already had for a third-place tie with Jason Lezak in the 100 free.
"If I am ready to swim and win in an Olympic final with the best swimmers in the world," he said, "then I am ready to tackle the media. The difficult part is behind me. I gave up a lot of things to concentrate on my training, so easier things are before me. I'm pretty much ready for anything."
Bernard picked up his third medal of the games. He now has one of each color.
"It means a great deal to me," he said. "It is a wonderful, beautiful medal. It is something huge when you look at the level of performance in these races. It is not any worse than the 100-meter (gold). It is the same value."
Cielo fell two-hundredth's short of Sullivan's record, 21.28, but certainly believes he can go faster.
"A little bit lower than what I was able to do today," he said. "I haven't achieved the time I am looking for. The rest is a secret. When I reach it, I'll let you know."


Updated : 2021-10-17 14:37 GMT+08:00