Cielo gunning for glory

DUBAI - Brazilian Olympic gold medallist Cesar Cielo is in a confident mood and believes he has nothing to prove at next month’s 10th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m).

Published: Tue 30 Nov 2010, 11:52 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:05 AM

Sprint star Cielo was beaten by Nathan Adrian of the United States of America in the 50m and 100m freestyle races in the Pan-Pacific Championships in Irvine, California earlier this year and the two will go head-to-head again at the spectacular, new Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex on the Dubai Bypass Road.

But rather than worry about facing up to his arch-rival in Dubai, 23 year-old Cielo was in a relaxed and positive mood ahead of the Championships, which take place from December 15 to 19. “I have won Olympics and World Championships (so) I don’t think I have got to prove anything else to anyone,” he said. “Right now, it’s just about looking for a goal that is going to satisfy me and my family and make me happy.”

Cielo won gold in the 50m freestyle in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and in the 50m and 100m freestyle in last year’s FINA World Swimming Championships in Rome. He has never topped the podium in short course at World Championships level with his only medal so far a silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay in Indianapolis six years ago.

But with the short course racing in Dubai less than three weeks away he said he was in a positive frame of mind. “I’ve got pretty good confidence in myself through the training I’m getting,” he said. “I love short course, I’ve always been really good at short course, and my (long course) records are still there. I’m going (to Dubai) to have fun, trying to drop my times and see what happens from there.”

Dubai is Cielo’s opportunity to make up for his disappointments at the Pan-Pacifics in August where he won silver in the 50m freestyle and bronze, behind Adrian and Canada’s Brent Hayden, in the 100m freestyle, but he does not look at things that way.

“I don’t think I need to show redemption,” he said. “From now on I just want to be the best swimmer I can be. I want to step up to the blocks, feel confident and feel in shape.”

Cielo’s battle with Adrian will be one of the many box-office contests on offer during five days of top-class racing but he said there would be plenty of other swimmers capable of testing him and having a shot at gold.

“It’s definitely going to be a high level of competition,” he said. “All the countries are taking their best swimmers and I know everybody wants to win.”

The date of this year’s Championships coincides with the anniversary of Cielo setting the current world record mark for the 50m freestyle in long course, something he did in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 18 December 2009.

Is that a lucky omen? “I’m going to be in Dubai (when the anniversary comes around) so who knows what will happen there,” he said. “Maybe it will be my lucky day and I will get a gold medal too,” he added.

Championships director Obaid Al Shamsi said: “We are delighted that Cesar so positive about the prospect of coming to Dubai for the 10th FINA World Championships. Cesar is part of a world-class field of athletes who will provide superb entertainment for spectators at the venue and television viewers around the world. We look forward to welcoming the world to Dubai for what we are sure will be an outstanding five days of top-class racing at a spectacular, new state-of-the-art venue.”

Among other elite swimmers set to take part in the Championships are Geoff Huegill and Leisel Jones of Australia, Ryan Lochte and Rebecca Soni from the United States of America, FINA World Cup winner Therese Alshammar of Sweden, China’s Liu Zige, Italy’s Federica Pellegrini, Alain Bernard of France and Japan’s Ryosuke Irie.

The championships are set to be the biggest, both in terms of numbers of athletes and also participating countries, in the history of the event, which stretches back to 1993.

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