As we reported earlier this week, world record holder Cesar Cielo missed qualifying individually for Brazil’s Olympic team this summer, but at the end of the Maria Lenk meet, there was still a chance that Cielo could be selected as a relay-only swimmer.
However, when Brazil announced its team yesterday, Cielo was not included on the list. Currently, the roster only lists four men for the 4×100 free, the top four finishers.
Brazil could add two more men in the event, but comments made by executive director of the CBDA, Ricardo de Moura, and the head coach, Alberto Silva, put to rest any speculation that Cielo could be one of the relay-only swimmers selected, as he only finished 7th in the 100 free with a time of 48.99. Gabriel Santos and Alan Victoria were the 5th- and 6th-fastest swimmers in the 100 free, putting them ahead of Cielo for relay spots, should Brazil choose to add any more relay-only swimmers.
Complicating that decision, of course, is that the fact that FINA recently mandated that any relay-only swimmers must swim in either the heats or the finals of their respective relay. Brazil particularly has a history of missing finals in this event after not swimming their top four swimmers in the heats.
As for Cielo, in an interview after the meet, he expressed uncertainty as to his future. He said he would definitely take a break from training, and spend time deciding whether or not he will continue swimming competitively. Cielo also expressed disappointment in missing an individual berth in the 50 free by just 0.09 seconds, but gave credit to the two men who secured the spots, Bruno Fratus and Ítalo Manzine.
While it’s also a bit jarring to see a world record holder fail to make his own country’s Olympic team, it was definitely not a complete shock, as Cielo has battled injuries for years, including shoulder inflammation that caused him to depart early from last summer’s World Championships in Kazan. Cielo alluded to those injuries as having limited his ability to train and impacting his performance this past week at Maria Lenk Trophy meet.
Cielo has long been one of the more recognized figures in international-level swimming. He won gold in the 50m free and bronze in the 100m free at the 2008 Beijing Games, then se the world record holder in both events in 2009, at the height of the super-suit era. However, less than two years later, his career was marred by controversy after he was only given a warning for a failed drug test that Cielo claimed was the result of contamination. Since then, Cielo earned another bronze in the 50m free at London, as well as several medals at the 2013 Barcelona World Championships (long course) and the 2014 Doha World Championships (short course).