Dubai, world s/c championships, day 5 finals:
Men's 100m freestyle
Cesar Cielo made the sign of the cross, looked heavenward and sent a kiss with a hand indicated No1. Somewhere up there an aquatic God may have answered his prayer but the work was still to be done. The Sprint Emperor delivered off the blocks, firing to emerge a head and shoulders above the pack. That takes some doing at this level and the Brazilian does is it with verve and a firepower no-one in world sprinter has an answer to right now.
The advantage he gained within seconds of 'go' sealed gold at the close of 47.74sec of championship-record skill and power thrilling in its execution. Silver went to Fabien Gilot (FRA), on 45.97, with Nikita Lobintsev (RUS) denying Gaul a second place on the podium, in 46.35, 0.02sec ahead of Olympic champion Alain Bernard. The top two times were the best and third-best ever by men in textile suits, sandwiching Sweden's Stefan Nystrand at his best in 2007, the champion's effort delivering a sprint twin peak of golds in the 50m and 100m free here in Dubai.
At the half-way turn, Cielo, on 21.45 was 0.27sec inside the world-record pace of Amaury Leveaux (FRA) from 2008. As Cielo himself had predicted, the global standard was going to be a stretch too far beyond the plastic fantastic that served as a homecoming painkiller for those wearing the prop of poly bodysuits. So it proved, but the fight over the second 50m in the raw was a nail-biter, Gilot turning in 21.78, Bernard in 21.87, Lobintsev in 22.16 bck in 6th, defending champion Nathan Adrian (USA) third in 21.84.
By the last turn, Cielo maintained a clear lead, flipped first and drove under the wave, but Gilot was breaking down the deficit no sooner than he had emerged into stroke, the two leaders free from the field chasing. The hunt for the wall saw Lobintsev pick off his rivals one by one, the top two too a stroke too far but all the rest rendered victims, Bernard managing to stay closest.
Cielo said: "It was harder than I expected, I thought i was going to be faster but a gold is always a gold. I'l take that and I'm happy with it. I'm hoping to stay at the top of my game until Brazil 2016 [Olym,pic Games in Rio]. I'm going to have to keep traning harder and harder because its hard to reach the top and get the best times. I'll be doing my best."
History in the making:
World s/c Podiums
Most world titles in this event:
Records (TB = best ever in a textile suit)
Most world records in this event (since specific 25m records began in 1991):
All-time textile rankings top 5:
From the archive:
Only one man in history - Ryk Neethling (RSA) has the unusual honour of having won the world s/c 100m freestyle crown (2006) and been a member of the Olympic-gold-medal-winning 4x100m free relay (RSA, 2004) in the latter stages of a career that began with appearances in two Olympic 1,500m freestyle finals, 1996 and 2000 (5th in both). Neethling spent his most successful years in the sport training at the Ford squad in Arizona run by coaches Frank Busch and Rick Demont. The South African swam through a wide spectrum of success during his 12-years on his national senior team: he won international medals (world championships, Commonwealth, Pan Pacific and Goodwill Games) over 100m, 200, 400, 800m and 1,500m, among the bonuses a world short-course title in the 100m medley (2006) just for good measure.