Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Joseph Schooling wins Singapore's first ever medal at the World Championships

From Russia with love
By Jonathan Wong, The Straits Times, 9 Aug 2015

Even as the Republic awakens today to celebrate its history, a young Singaporean of prodigious sporting talent went to bed last night reflecting on his own improbable journey.

Unlike his barren Fina World Championships debut two years ago in Barcelona, there was only triumph and vindication for Joseph Schooling as he became the first local swimmer to win a medal at the elite meet in Kazan, Russia.

He clocked 50.96sec in the 100m butterfly to finish third behind defending champion Chad le Clos (50.56) and Hungarian Laszlo Cseh (50.87), earning himself a place in the record books in what will surely go down as a milestone moment in Singapore's sporting history.

His effort was also a new Asian record, lowering the mark of 51.00 set by Japan's Kohei Kawamoto in 2009.

Said Schooling, who was named 2014 Sportsman of the Year at the annual Singapore Sports Awards earlier this week: "I couldn't be happier to have won a medal on the eve of Singapore's 50th birthday, and would like to dedicate this win to everyone who has supported and believed in me.

"I came to the world championships with an intention of winning a medal in any of my three individual events.

"I came close in the 50m and i knew that today was my last chance.

"I am delighted with my individual performance at this World Championships and will continue to work hard towards Rio 2016."

Men's 100m Butterfly FINAL World Championships... by deportes-plus-3

Starting in lane one as the seventh-fastest qualifier, the 20-year-old was the quickest off the blocks and was in the lead as he made the turn 0.19sec ahead of second-placed le Clos.

But the South African, who won the 200m fly at the 2012 London Olympics, showed all of his fighting qualities in the next 50m to retain his title.

For Schooling, there was no room for despair though, as he savours a stunning week of achievements in the pool.

This was his second appearance in a world championship final race, a feat no local male swimmer besides Ang Peng Siong (fourth in the 50m free at the 1986 edition in Madrid) can lay claim to.

A swimmer's career is defined by the clock and Schooling's timings are proof that he is heading in the right direction and towards his ultimate goal of an Olympic medal.

He has gone faster each time he has dived into the pool during this biennial meet.

While he did not make the 200m fly final, he still improved from the heats into the semis. It was the same in the 50m fly where he eventually finished seventh - just 0.1sec outside a podium placing - and set an Asian record of 23.25.

Likewise in his pet event, the 100m fly, in which he bagged a silver at last year's Glasgow Commonwealth Games in a national record of 51.69. That mark has since been erased three times at the Kazan Arena - 51.65 in the heats, 51.40 in the semis and again in the finals.

With 12 months to go to the next Olympic Games in Rio, Schooling has provided concrete evidence of his undoubted talent and crucially, the silverware to prove that he will be a medal contender in Brazil.

No wonder Singapore national head coach Sergio Lopez gushed: "I'm very proud to see Joseph win this well-deserved medal.

"I am very happy for his parents and the people in Singapore that have supported him.

"This win today shows that we do have the talent to do well at a big stage and for Joseph, it also means that he has proven himself to be among the top swimmers in the world."

Meanwhile, his compatriot Quah Zheng Wen clocked 25.44 in the 50m backstroke heats to finish 20th overall while sister Ting Wen timed 26.51 in the 50m free and ranked 53rd.

Roanne Ho was 38th in the 50m breaststroke after a 32.20 swim.

The quartet of Danny Yeo, Amanda Lim, Quah Ting Wen and Zheng Wen clocked 3min 34.58sec to finish 13th in the 4x100m free mixed medley.

I couldn't be happier to have won a medal on the eve of Singapore's 50th birthday and would like to dedicate this win to...
Posted by Joseph Isaac Schooling on Saturday, August 8, 2015

Congrats to Joseph Isaac Schooling who just won a historic bronze medal at the FINA Swimming World Championships with a...
Posted by Lawrence Wong on Saturday, August 8, 2015

Aim to break free in Rio
Having bagged 100m fly world bronze, Schooling sets sights on beating Phelps, le Clos and Cseh in Olympics
By Wang Meng Meng, The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

The goal is still a year away but Joseph Schooling has laid down another milestone that will mark his journey as a boy from Singapore who wants to win an Olympic medal in Rio de Janeiro.

His route has covered the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, a gold-laden SEA Games and now the Fina World Championships, which saw him win the 100m butterfly bronze on Saturday evening.

It was a first-ever for the country and the perfect 50th-birthday gift for the nation from the 20-year-old whose progress is relentless.

And he wants to keep improving.

Speaking on the telephone from Russia yesterday, Schooling spoke about how he wants to polish his technique, upgrade his power and squeeze more endurance from his lungs to lay his hands on that medal with five rings on it.

He said: "There are a couple of things that I can definitely work on. My first 50m went really well... 23.53 sec (at the split) was very, very good for me. My break out off the wall was very explosive.

"I think I can improve a lot more on the last 15-20 metres. My finishing does need some improving on.

"But if I have to rate it out of a 100 per cent, I would say I swam a 95 out of 100."

Schooling's time of 50.96 helped him finish third in Kazan, behind Chad le Clos (50.56) and Lazlo Cseh (50.87) and is the fourth-fastest time of the year (behind Michael Phelps' 50.45).

According to Singapore swimming head coach Sergio Lopez, it is "a statement" from Schooling.

The Spaniard said: "It gives him confidence now that he has got one medal (at the World Championships). Everybody is now realising that he is here to compete against the best.

"His race was very good but he needs to finish a little bit better.

"He has good speed. He needs to be a bit stronger. He is at the perfect age to do something good."

Schooling's World Championships time in Kazan would have placed him first in the previous edition in Barcelona, where le Clos won in 51.06.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Phelps won the gold in 51.21.

While Lopez is keen to restrain the hype surrounding his protege, he noted: "Joseph is now one of the best in the world. He has improved 7/10th of a second in one year (he clocked 51.69 when he won the Commonwealth silver last July).

"If he improves another 7/10th of a second, he breaks the (non-super suit) record. So Michael Phelps better get ready to swim his best time.

"The important thing is that he trains hard. There's Phelps, Jack Conger, le Clos... that's a lot of swimmers. A lot of things can happen.

"But let's enjoy it (Schooling's bronze medal) and leave Joseph to work as hard as he can."

Next August in Brazil will see Schooling facing a stellar cast in le Clos, Cseh, Tom Shields, 16-year- old Chinese prodigy Li Zhuhao and the imposing 1.93m frame of Phelps.

With the American, who is the most decorated Olympian in history with 22 medals (18 gold), still hungry for more glory in Rio, Schooling knows the 100m butterfly field there could make for one of the most exciting races ever.

He knows it will take something special to beat Phelps but, at the moment, he is satisfied with his achievement in Russia before he heads back to the pool to train for the Olympics.

"There have been more ups than downs," he said.

"I got progressively faster over the meet. I've accomplished what I set out to accomplish.

"I don't have a magic crystal ball to tell me if I can beat Phelps but I am very excited to be racing him again. To beat Phelps is not like beating someone else.

"You are up against the greatest swimmer of all time. You have to find that extra gear."

Singapore Swimming Association lauds world championships squad
By Jeremy Lim, The Straits Times, 11 Aug 2015

Although it was Joseph Schooling who had won a medal and Quah Zheng Wen was the only other Singapore swimmer to notch a personal best and national record, the rest of the Republic's aquatics team have been praised by the senior management of the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA).

As the curtains drew in Kazan after more than two weeks of competition, the association's president Lee Kok Choy gave the thumbs-up to the 11 swimmers, eight synchronised swimmers and three divers for their efforts.

Lee said: "The results from the World Championships are a good boost and inspiration for the younger athletes participating in the Junior World Championships.

"It speaks well of the future and provided a great opportunity for our aquatics athletes to compete at an international level."

Apart from Schooling and Quah, no other personal bests was notched or national records rewritten in Russia but the performance of the rest of the team satisfied the SSA.

The diving trio of Fong Kay Yian, 18, Myra Lee, 21, and Freida Lim, 17, made their World Championships debuts.

Lee and Freida scored a total of 244.32 points to finish last out of 16 in the women's 10m synchro platform preliminaries. Fong scored a total of 206.20 points to finish 44th out of 47 in the diving women's 3m springboard preliminaries.

Singapore's synchronised swimmers finished 19th out of 25 in the team technical preliminaries with a score of 71.5776, ahead of Australia (70.8602).

It is the first time Singapore scored above 70 points for the team event at the world championships. The octet was made up of Stephanie Chen, Rayna Buckle, Natalie Chen, Gwyneth Goh, Nadine Khor, Shona Lim, Miya Yong and Debbie Soh.

SSA secretary general Oon Jin Teik added: "Our synchronised swimmers exceeded expectations in the team technical event, recording their highest scores at the World Championships."

Quah Zheng Wen has set another new National Record. This time round in the 50m Backstroke in the final of the...
Posted by Singapore Swimming Association on Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Although much attention was on Schooling's quest for glory in the butterfly events, backstroke specialist Quah also made an impact.

The 18-year-old, who was granted deferment from national service last month, timed 54.40sec in the 100m heats, which erased his previous national record of 54.51 set during June's SEA Games. He finished 21st out of 67 swimmers overall.

Lee lauded Quah's performance, saying: "Zheng Wen did very well and we are glad he got his deferment. He deserves to focus on swimming in Rio next year. I believe he has a good chance to do well in Rio and that he will continue to do better than now."

But the highlight of the championships was undoubtedly Schooling's bronze medal in the 100m butterfly, achieved in a new Asian record of 50.96.

Lee said: "Joseph demonstrated a really good approach towards the competition and showed his willingness to compete as he improves after every event.

"He is showing his gifts and capacity to do well on all fronts with the help of the coach to peak in important competitions."

Oon added: "Joseph's bronze medal coupled with the breaking of records by both him and Zhengwen show that our athletes are responding well to the training systems which we have put in place and the support structures which we have set up to help our athletes perform at a higher level."

And Lee is already looking ahead to a brighter future for the aquatic team. "Our main target is the 2020 Olympics (in Tokyo) and we are on the right track in our long-term plans."

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