Crowd hail Cesar after tearful Brazilian wins

Reuters, Monday 25 Jul 2011

Brazil's Cesar Cielo collapsed in a flood of tears and was briefly unable to leave the pool after winning the men's 50 metres butterfly world title on Monday

Brazil's Cesar Cielo

Cielo captured his first world championships butterfly gold medal in 23.10 seconds, just ahead of Australian duo Matthew Targett (23.28) and Geoff Huegill (23.35).

He burst into tears again during the playing of the anthem. The large television screen in the Oriental Sports Centre showed his breakdown and the Chinese crowd applauded his outpouring of emotion.

They were not purely tears of joy the 24-year-old Cielo was shedding. The Olympic freestyle champion was fortunate to be racing at all.

He was cleared to compete at the championships only last Thursday when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the Brazilian federation's decision to warn rather than ban him for a positive doping test.

Cielo, the 50 and 100 freestyle world champion from Rome and three team mates tested positive for the banned diuretic furosemide in May but their national governing body (CBDA) decided against banning them.

Swimming's ruling body FINA then went to CAS who dismissed their appeal against the Brazilian following a hearing in Shanghai.

Cielo told the hearing that a caffeine supplement he had been taking regularly had become contaminated.

"I didn't expect the gold medal at all," he told reporters on Monday. "That's the biggest relief in my life.

"It is the time to test not only my ability to swim but also how much I can take. I'm really proud I can compete with the best swimmers in the world."

The 32-year-old Huegill's return to the competitive arena after several years away has been extraordinary.

He battled to shed more than 40kgs after his weight ballooned to almost 140kgs. The Australian won the 100 butterfly last year at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and now has his sights set on the 2012 London Olympics.

"I am very grateful," Huegill said. "It's a stepping stone because I am looking forward to next year's Olympics."

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