World record-holder Cesar Cielo had a rough opening day of the 2015 FINA World Championships, dealing with an inflamed shoulder tendon that kept him off of Brazil’s 4×100 free relay.
Without the world record-holding Cielo’s split, Brazil missed a medal in the relay, winding up in fourth place.
Brazil’s Globo.com reports that Cielo apologized to the nation’s four relay members, Marcelo Chierighini, Matheus Santana, Bruno Fratus and Joao de Lucca, for not being able to help them fight for a World Championships medal.
At age 28, Cielo isn’t the same dominating swimmer he was in his early-20s, but is still one of the most dangerous relay legs in the world, as evidenced by his huge run-down of the United States in the 4×100 medley relay at last winter’s Short Course World Championships.
Cielo did manage to compete individually on the day, swimming the 50 fly, but his result was less than stellar. The two-time defending world champ in the event, Cielo barely scraped into the final, taking 8th by just .01 seconds.
Cielo told Globo that he was fighting pain in his shoulder and also noted that he made several mistakes during the race.
“I’m playing with fire here,” he said of the mistakes, and cutting his qualification so close in the semifinals. He jokingly credited his guardian angel with helping his quest for a three-peat stay alive, but said Monday’s final will be a difficult test for him.
His teammate Nicholas dos Santos will join him in the final. France’s Florent Manaudou is the top seed at 22.84, faster than Cielo went in either of his previous two world titles.