x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Controversial Cesar Cielo takes gold in 50m butterfly

Brazilian defies a storm of criticism to win an emotional gold at the world championships today, while a 15-year-old prodigy claimed a thrilling win for the hosts China.

Ceasr Cielo tries to stifle his emotions after taking gold in the 50m butterfly in Shanghai.
Ceasr Cielo tries to stifle his emotions after taking gold in the 50m butterfly in Shanghai.

SHANGHAI // Cesar Cielo, the Brazilian sprint star, defied a storm of criticism to win an emotional gold at the world championships today, while a 15-year-old prodigy claimed a thrilling win for the hosts China.

Cesar, controversially cleared to swim despite failing a drugs test, sobbed uncontrollably on the victory podium after his 50m butterfly victory, and was comforted by fellow medallists Matthew Targett and Geoff Huegill of Australia.

"It's a page turned already. Now I'm just going to look to the future," said Cielo, whose 23.10secs, was just 0.18secs ahead of second-placed Targett.

"This gold medal has a different feel from the other ones. This one was the hardest of my life."

Cielo, 24, has been in the firing line with superstar Michael Phelps and US teammate Jason Lezak both voicing unhappiness after the Brazilian last week escaped a drugs ban.

The Olympic 50m freestyle champion, who won both the 50m and 100m world titles at Rome 2009, was let off with a warning for testing positive for a banned diuretic, which can be used to mask performance-enhancing drugs.

Cielo denies wrongdoing and blames a contaminated caffeine supplement for the result at Brazil's national championships in May. Three teammates also tested positive for furosemide.

"It was a tough time. Time to test not only my talent in swimming but how much I could take," Cielo said.

In other action, the Asian Games champion Ye Shiwen, 15, recorded China's first swimming gold in a pulsating 200m individual medley that was met with deafening roars at Shanghai's Sea Crown stadium.

Ye put in a lightning final lap to pip Australia's Alicia Coutts, who won her second silver of the night, by one-tenth of a second in 2:08.90, with defending champion Ariana Kukors of the United States in third. Australia's Olympic title-holder Stephanie Rice finished fourth.

Elsewhere Olympic silver-medallist Alexander Dale Oen of Norway won the men's 100m breaststroke ahead of Italy's Fabio Scozzoli with the South African Cameron van der Burgh third.

Japan's four-time Olympic breaststroke champion, Kosuke Kitajima, was just outside the medals in fourth.

Earlier, Dana Vollmer, the 23-year-old US swimmer, won her first individual title at a world championships in the 100m butterfly ahead of Coutts and China's Lu Ying.

Sarah Sjoestroem, the world record holder and defending champion, finished fourth while Australia's "Madame Butterfly" Jessicah Schipper was seventh.

Vollmer's victory was attained by virtue of an unusual training regime in the ocean off Tasmania, and follows a career beset by injury as well as a serious heart problem which required surgery in 2003.

"It was a little slower than the semis but it doesn't matter though. I got my hand to the wall," said Vollmer, 23.

"A little more painful than yesterday's swim. I'm so excited, I've never won a world championship. My fly's been feeling absolutely amazing.

"I feel all the different things I've been doing with training ... are really paying off for me."

America's 14-time Olympic champion Phelps qualified for Tuesday's 200m freestyle final alongside teammate Ryan Phelps.