LONDON (Reuters) - Olympic 50 meters freestyle champion Cesar Cielo predicted on Wednesday that Brazil would leave the London Olympics with more medals than the 15 they took home from Beijing four years ago.
Cielo, women’s long jumper Maurren Maggi and the women’s volleyball team won gold medals in Beijing.
The 25 year-old, who will compete in the 50 and 100 meters and the 4x100 medley, said Brazil should expect their medal tally to increase because of better support and the feel-good factor from being the next country to stage the Olympics in 2016.
“We are capable of winning many more medals than we did in Beijing,” he told reporters at Brazil’s training camp at Crystal Palace.
It is the first time Brazil has an exclusive base for the Olympics and Cielo is one of more than 100 athletes training in south London.
Cielo said he was not worried about the bad weather that has blighted the British summer.
“Sao Paulo is pretty much like this too. It is grey most of the time, you know I was expecting a little more sun,” he said with a smile.
Cielo tested positive for a banned substance in 2011 but escaped with a warning after claiming the banned diuretic detected by the test was the result of cross-contamination.
His appeal was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which accepted the banned diuretic that had been detected was not intended to improve performance.
“I am here to swim fast, nothing more to talk about,” he said when asked about the incident.
“My main goal is to represent my country in the best way possible and to get a gold medal in the 50 and try my best in the 100.”
The Brazilian said his world records in the 50 meters (20.91 seconds) and in the 100 (46.91) as well as his gold medal from Beijing counted for nothing now.
“It does not serve for much. In the Olympics everything goes back to square one. The world champion or the world record holder or the ninth last year are fighting for the same medal and you have got to go there like it was the first time,” Cielo said.
Cielo’s team mate Felipe Franca won gold in the 50 meters breast stroke in the 2011 world championships in Shanghai and is predicted by Sports Illustrated to win a silver in the 100 meters breaststroke. But the confident 25 year-old is aiming for more in London.
“I have been training a long time for this so, gold has been my main ambition,” he said.
Thiago Pereira will race in the 200 and 400 meters medley and is looking forward to meeting Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte of the United States and Hungarian Lazlo Csech.
“I know it won’t be easy but I did everything I could, training so I think I am ready for that,” he said.
(This story corrected number of medals in the first paragraph)
Editing by John Mehaffey