LONDON -- Cullen Jones won his first Olympic individual medal – a silver – in the men’s 50 freestyle Friday.
But while the former N.C. State star and current Charlotte resident appreciated finishing in second, he was a bit disappointed he didn’t get the gold.
“I gave 100 percent, so I’m happy,” Jones said. “The time wasn’t too bad and I’m thankful that I got second. I was dreaming of gold and I really wanted to get first, but it wasn’t in the cards this time. I’ll have to work with silver. And that’s enough motivation for another four years, I think.”
France’s Florent Manadou pulled the upset from lane seven for the gold medal after qualifying only sixth-fastest. The pre-race favorite, Brazil’s Cesar Cielo, hadn’t lost a major international meet at that distance since winning the gold in 2008.
But Jones beat Cielo, and since they were next to each other in the middle of the pool, he knew that he did while it was happening. He didn't know Manadou had sneaked into the lead on the outside of the pool.
“I thought I was up in front,” Jones said. “I had a really great start. The whole race -- I really can’t say anything bad about it.”
Jones’ time in the final of 21.54 matched his semifinal qualifying time, which was a personal best when you don’t count times from the old high-tech bodysuits.
But Manadou swam a shocking 21.34 – nearly a half-second faster than he qualified – to win. Cielo was third in 21.59.
Jones, who plans to try for his third Olympics in 2016, said after the race the only thing he could improve was to get stronger.
“I think that’s just going to be another level of strength to get me there and I’m willing to do that,” Jones said.