Wednesday 17 August 2016

Joseph Schooling, Singapore's First Olympic Gold Medallist

Rare Parliament honour for Joseph Schooling
Parliament moves motion to congratulate Schooling on Olympic gold, support Team SG in Rio
Olympic champion comes home to joyous welcome; NS deferred until next Games
By Chua Siang Yee, The Straits Times, 16 Aug 2016

Joseph Schooling's habit of making history continued outside the pool yesterday as he became the first sportsman to be formally congratulated by the Singapore Parliament for his Olympian efforts that captured the nation's imagination.

Hours after he flew into Singapore, proudly displaying the country's first-ever Olympics gold medal, the 21-year-old stood in Parliament, where a motion was moved to hail and acknowledge his achievement.

"This House congratulates swimmer Joseph Issac Schooling for his achievements at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games," Parliament noted.

The country's leaders paid tribute to the moment last week when the swimmer's victory in the 100m butterfly event meant that Majulah Singapura was played at the Olympic Games' medal ceremony for the first time.

"It was a moment of great national pride, not just for Joseph and his family, but for our entire nation," said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who is also president of the Singapore National Olympic Council. Mr Tan had been present by the pool to watch the swimmer make history.

He also paid tribute to Schooling's parents, Colin and May Schooling, who had dedicated their lives to supporting his dream. "It takes a village to raise an Olympic champion, they say - but, above all, it takes a family," he said.

Schooling later told reporters that he was honoured to be the first sportsman to be acknowledged in this manner by Parliament. "It is pretty cool for me and my family to have that honour and (the) chance for everyone to say the things that they said in front of us. I had goosebumps. It is a privilege."

On an emotional and event-filled day for the young swimmer, it was also announced that his national service (NS) will be deferred until at least the next Olympic Games, four years from now, to give him the best chance to defend the crown he wrested from the likes of swimming legend Michael Phelps.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said Schooling's request to extend his NS deferment had been approved by the Armed Forces Council as he had fulfilled all the necessary conditions.

"Joseph can now set his sights on 2020 to defend his Olympic title and win more national glory for Singapore," Dr Ng said in a Facebook post. "Let us all wish him many more achievements and success."

Schooling, himself, got a sense of the powerful emotions his victory has evoked from the moment his flight touched down at 5.35am yesterday. It was greeted by a water cannon salute on the tarmac that Changi Airport had arranged.

More was to come as he walked in to face a sea of supporters chanting his name at the arrival hall of Terminal 3. Some had been waiting for him since 10pm the previous night.

He patiently posed for wefies, signed autographs and received hugs and backslaps.

More greetings are in the works. Sports Singapore is planning an open-top bus victory parade on the streets to celebrate the University of Texas student's achievements.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who was in Rio to witness his historic feat, said in a Facebook post that the win could have a positive impact beyond the sporting arena.

Dr Tan said: "It shows that one can achieve the extraordinary if one follows one's passion. I am confident that Schooling's win will inspire more young Singaporeans to follow their dreams.

"Singapore is very proud of Schooling and his supporting crew for making history for Singapore."


Welcome home, Schooling

Big crowd welcomes butterfly king home
More than 500 fans throng Changi Airport early in the morning to meet Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist
By Chua Siang Yee, The Straits Times, 16 Aug 2016

For 50.39 seconds last Saturday, Joseph Schooling brought a nation together as Singaporeans hung on to his every move as he powered to victory in the 100m butterfly Olympic final.

Yesterday, over a similar distance at Changi Airport Terminal 3, there was little chance for another swift performance as more than 500 fans of Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist demanded an audience with their butterfly king.

By about 4am, 1-1/2 hours before Schooling's flight was scheduled to land, a sizeable crowd had formed at the arrival hall.

A fan shouted, probably in jest: "Every day Schooling day, no public holiday." His fellow supporters, mostly decked in red and ranging from primary school pupils to the elderly, were a tad more creative.

Many were there with homemade gifts, such as balloon bouquets and banners thanking their idol. Scarves and mini Singapore flags were popular choices for others. A group of pupils from Anglo-Chinese School (Junior), Schooling's former school, belted out the school song.

Retiree Chua Wee Meng, 70, had been at the airport since 10pm on Sunday. He might have summed up the sentiments of some when he said: "Schooling is handsome and I hope to get a photo with him. It's the best chance I've got."

At about 5am, Mr Colin Schooling arrived to loud cheers from fans, who acknowledged his role in moulding his son into a champion. Addressing the media, the 68-year-old businessman said: "Joseph's motto is 'dare to dream' and I think he's done a good job... Now we have to aim for the world record."

Deputy Prime Minister and former Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) president Teo Chee Hean entered the fray a quarter before 6am, joining sports officials, including SNOC vice-presidents Tan Eng Liang and Annabel Pennefather, in the welcome party.

The anticipation and excitement were palpable after a red "Landed" status appeared next to Schooling's flight, SQ67. When he finally emerged, there was a frenzy as the crowd roared and jostled for a vantage point. Several fans stood on chairs to get a better view, others screamed as Schooling waved at them.

There was a heartwarming scene as father and son, reunited after months apart, embraced each other while the crowd chanted "Joseph, Joseph". His father did not travel to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics because of health concerns.

After speaking to the officials present, Schooling addressed the crowd, thanking them for making the early trip. He said: "Thank you, everyone. This is not for me, this is for you. I love you guys."

He then spent more than an hour signing autographs and taking pictures with his supporters.

He told The Straits Times later: "I expected there to be people but didn't think there would be so many. It was an early Monday morning after all and people have school and work. It was amazing to see and I'm really thankful for their support."

His mother, Mrs May Schooling, who was on the same flight, said: "It's very heartening and (I'm) happy to see so many people. We are overwhelmed."

The festivities started even before Schooling got out of the plane, as Changi Airport welcomed the aircraft with a water cannon salute on the tarmac. Airport staff also lined the transit area, waving flags to welcome him.

Tampines Junior College student Chew Xinyi, who got Schooling's autograph on her mobile phone cover, said: "My friends will ask if I am crazy, and I'll fall asleep during lectures, but I think it's worth it... I want to see him live in person because he made history for Singapore."

National sprinter and 2008 Olympian Calvin Kang, 26, who was also present, said: "As a fellow athlete, it's a joyous occasion and I want to celebrate with everyone here. You can see that sport really brings people together."

Additional reporting by Alvin Chia and Nicole Chia

Champ enjoys two firsts in the House
It moves motion to formally congratulate Schooling, who also gets standing ovation
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 16 Aug 2016

Swimmer Joseph Schooling walked into Parliament yesterday to enjoy two firsts, besides the Olympic gold he clinched for the country last week.

He was the subject of an unprecedented motion in the House to formally congratulate him on his win.

Four MPs paid tribute to his achievements, but a full House gave him a 30-second standing ovation - another first for a local athlete.

Many were also charmed by him as he snacked and chatted with them during a break.

Last Saturday, Schooling beat swimming greats Michael Phelps, Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh in the 100m butterfly and smashed the Olympic record.

While acknowledging the work that the 21-year-old put in to achieve the historic win, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who tabled the motion, also highlighted the various support systems that brought Schooling to the top of the podium.

At the fore are his parents Colin and May Schooling - "Joseph's No. 1 fans and supporters", said Mr Tan, who is president of the Singapore National Olympic Council.

"They dedicated their lives to supporting Joseph's Olympic dream. They made huge sacrifices to provide the fullest support possible to help their son realise his dreams," he said.

He also acknowledged Sport Singapore for providing the Sports Excellence Scholarship, which allowed Schooling to train full time, and the Defence Ministry for deferring his national service commitments.

Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth, said his ministry and Sport Singapore will "continue to support many more young athletes, who have no doubt been inspired by Schooling, to similarly excel and fulfil their sporting aspirations".

He also encouraged Singaporeans to cheer this year's local Paralympians - the largest contingent to date - with the "same fervour and passion" as they did Schooling.

Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) also sought to honour other athletes who represent Singapore, saying: "We know you have put in so much just to get there. Whether you win or lose - we salute you."

Besides raising the profile of local athletes, Schooling's win has brought together a country, said MPs.

Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), noting that Singaporeans of all races supported Schooling throughout the nail-biting minute, said: "All of us roared until you touched the wall."

Similarly, Ms Lim mentioned that a neighbour, who hardly talks to her, struck up a conversation with her in the lift over the race.

Later, some MPs asked the swimmer for selfies. Among them was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who in a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post shared a photo of him and Schooling and wrote: "Usually people ask me for selfies, but today I felt so proud to ask Joseph for one!"

Later, in another post, he said Schooling has "shown a new generation of aspiring athletes that dreams are worth striving for".

"Many of our athletes have come away from the Olympics with new personal bests, and valuable experience going up against the world's best," he said.

He cited swimmer Quah Zheng Wen, who set two new personal bests, rower Saiyidah Aisyah, who reached the quarter-finals, and sprinter Timothee Yap and shuttler Derek Wong, who faced Usain Bolt and Lee Chong Wei respectively - "both the best in the world".

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong was impressed with Schooling's appetite, noting in a Facebook post how he "tucked into a curry puff, a cheesecake and a plate of noodles".

Noting that the swimmer has set his sights on more gold medals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Mr Goh said he was a likeable, mature "young man whose gentlemanliness belies the steel and fire in him".

Was deeply honoured to welcome @josephschooling and his parents, May and Colin Schooling to Parliament House today, where we formally congratulated him on his gold medal and expressed support for @teamsingapore in #Rio2016. Joseph’s win signifies much more than Singapore’s first gold medal. He sweated and sacrificed. With determination and fire in the belly, he has shown a new generation of aspiring athletes that dreams are worth striving for. Achievements, too, are more than medals. Many of our athletes have come away from the Olympics with new personal bests, and valuable experience going up against the world’s best. Swimmer Quah Zheng Wen set two new personal bests in the pool. Rower Saiyidah Aisyah reached the quarterfinals, finishing as 3rd best Asian competitor. Sprinter Timothee Yap and shuttler Derek Wong went up against Usain Bolt and Lee Chong Wei respectively - both the best in the world. They have worked hard, and they all deserve recognition for their efforts. The Games are still ongoing and our athletes are still competing in their respective events. I hope you’ll join me in cheering on our women’s table tennis team in their semifinal match taking place right now! - LHL #OneTeamSG (MCI Photo by Terence Tan)
A photo posted by Lee Hsien Loong (@leehsienloong) on

Joseph Schooling's NS deferred till after 2020 Olympics
By Royston Sim, Assistant News Editor, The Straits Times, 15 Aug 2016

Singapore's star swimmer Joseph Schooling will have his national service deferred till after the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

In a statement on Monday (Aug 15), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the Armed Forces Council has approved Schooling's request to extend his deferment.

The 21-year-old clinched Singapore's first-ever Olympic gold medal in the 100m Butterfly on Saturday, clocking an Olympic record time of 50.39 seconds.

In the statement, Dr Ng said Schooling has been exemplary in fulfilling the “raison d’etre” for his deferment from 2013 to the 2016 Olympics.

“He trained hard and met all performance milestones on his way to Olympic glory. The rest of his achievements are, as they say, now the stuff of Olympic and Singapore legend,” he said.

His record breaking feat in Rio has “brought national glory to Singapore and filled our entire nation with pride”, Dr Ng added.

In a Facebook post following the statement, Dr Ng wrote: "Joseph can now set his sights on 2020 to defend his Olympic title and win more national glory for Singapore. Let us all wish him many more achievements and success."

In 2013, Dr Ng had told Parliament that NS deferment “may be granted in exceptional circumstances to individual sportsmen, who are assessed to be potential medal winners at international competitions like the Olympic Games and bring national pride for the country”.

Individuals will have to show why deferment is necessary for them to train full-time and compete successfully at international competitions, and each case will be assessed individually in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Many people, including the local swimming fraternity, had called for an extension of Schooling’s NS deferment so he could continue his quest for further Olympic glory without any disruptions.

Schooling touched down at Changi Airport on Monday morning to a rapturous reception from hundreds of fans.

He and his family will attend Parliament in the afternoon, where the House plans to move a motion to congratulate him on his victory and express support for Team Singapore athletes.

The motion is a formal recognition of Schooling's achievement in the 100m butterfly final, when he defeated three star swimmers - defending champion Michael Phelps, South African Chad le Clos and Hungarian Lazlo Cseh.

Later on Monday night, the Ministry of Defence replied to queries from The Straits Times about Schooling's national swim mate Quah Zheng Wen, 19, who - in preparation for this year's Rio Olympics - was granted a deferment last year. He is due to enlist after Aug 31 now.

He enjoyed a couple of personal bests and semi-final appearances, shaving off time in both the 100m and 200m fly while securing a top-16 ranking as well.

A MINDEF spokesman said: "MINDEF has not received any application for Mr Quah to be granted further deferment from full-time NS."

Gold medal now, world record next, Schooling tells ACS (Junior) students
By Alvin Chia, The Straits Times, 16 Aug 2016

New Olympic champion Joseph Schooling is not content with just being one. He has already set his sights on breaking the world record in the 100m butterfly.

In an address to 1,607 students who were present at his alma mater Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) at Winstedt Road on Tuesday (Aug 16) morning, the Singaporean swimmer declared that he is gunning for his childhood idol Michael Phelps' world record of 49.82sec, set in 2009 while wearing a hydrodynamic supersuit that is now banned.

The 21-year-old Singaporean set a new Olympic record of 50.39sec last Friday en route to become the Republic's first Olympic gold medallist.

But he is not going to stop there after realising that dream.

In an adddress to the students, Schooling said: "That was my ultimate goal and my aspiration. On hindsight, right now, I thought I'd be content to be an Olympic champion and achieving my goal.

"But in reality, after my race, yes it was nice, it was crazy and everything was just nuts, but right now, I'm kind of looking forward to the next step.

"So my next step would be to try to be the world record holder in that event and breaking Michael's world record.

"What I realised was that you cannot sell yourself short. It's great to achieve your goals but you can't be content with achieving your goal for too long.

"You've got to take that, take the positives and got to move on. You've got to shoot for bigger and better things."

Schooling, who returned to Singapore on Monday (Aug 15), did not manage to get much sleep as he had to wake up early to get to visit the ACS (J) students.

He was a student at the school from 2002-2007 and then at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) for two years before moving to the Bolles School in Florida in 2009 at the age of 14.

The homecoming of the ACS alumnus created a lot of buzz as pupils waited for his arrival as early as 7am.

Slightly before 8am, he arrived at the school accompanied by his mother May and was greeted by his former teachers before proceeding to the school hall for an assembly programme with Primary 3 to 6 pupils.

As the old boy entered the hall, the pupils gave him a rapturous reception, with chants of "Let's go Schooling!".

"Joseph was a model student as usual, not outstanding in being naughty, always obedient and doing his work spontaneously. He was friendly and got on well with all his peers," recalled Mrs Diana Chia who taught Schooling English when he was in Primary 2.

"I have an acidic tongue but I never really had to scold him. He didn't give us (the teachers) a lot of trouble, there were no major upheavals and he's a good boy."

When he was asked about the toughest training set he had done when he was in primary school, Schooling told his juniors: "We had to do 30 sets of 100 fly, but we ended up doing only 20, that was the hardest (set) I've done and I failed miserably."

"I fail more than I succeed," he added.

Primary 5 pupil Mirza Hameed, who is in the swim team, is motivated to excel in both studies and sport, said: "I'm inspired to work harder in swimming, and to score 98-100 points for Chinese spelling test."

Some students from the ACS fraternity, including ACS (I), ACS (Barker) and Anglo-Chinese Junior College also came to catch a glimpse of the star.

As a custom of the mission school, a prayer opened proceedings in the hall, before a question-and-answer session with the students.

To the envy of the crowd, two pupils had the chance to take a photo with Schooling on stage with his Olympic gold medal hung around their necks.

While his classmates later crowded around him in amazement, one of the pair, Darion Pang, a Primary 3 pupil, said excitedly while using his hands to cover his head: "Today was the best thing (day) ever."

The visit to his alma mater is another stop of Schooling's triumphant homecoming after his win in Rio.

He was formally congratulated in Parliament on Monday, capping off a whirlwind day which started with him being received by hundreds of adoring fans in Changi Airport, to receiving news that his national service deferment had been extended till after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Joseph Schooling: Olympic mark under his belt, now for world record
Swimming hero's open-top bus parade on Thursday will start at 9.30am
By Chua Siang Yee, The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2016

Feted as Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist and with an Olympic record to his name, Joseph Schooling is now aiming for a world record in the 100m butterfly.

But in a reflective mood yesterday when he met the Singapore media, he remembers the time when he nearly gave it all up.

That was during the 2012 London Olympics, which he described as the "lowest point" in his life.

Only minutes before his 200m butterfly heat, he was told that his cap and goggles were not on the list of approved equipment.

He hastily found replacements but was rattled. In the end, he clocked more than two seconds off his then-personal best time of 1min 56.67sec, and failed to make the semi-finals.

"For me, 2012 just sucked," he said. "It did not really motivate me to do anything. If anything, it motivated me not to try anymore. I was too young to comprehend what was going on.

"I was injured, I couldn't swim, I had a bad attitude - those three things did not combine well."

He credits his parents - Colin and May - friends and coach Sergio Lopez for digging him out of the abyss.

He was also inspired by American swimmer Michael Phelps.

"I saw how people looked up to him and I wanted to be in that position. I wanted to be in the position where people looked up to me and used me as a role model," he said at the Sports Hub's Black Box Auditorium.

On Aug 12, Schooling beat Phelps to win the Olympic gold medal in Brazil.

He certainly was an inspiration yesterday morning when he returned to his alma mater, Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) in Winstedt Road.

He arrived just before 8am to screams and cheers from 1,607 pupils, including those from other schools in the ACS family.

Addressing them at the auditorium, he said he was gunning for Phelps' world record time of 49.82sec - even if that 2009 mark was set while wearing a hydrodynamic suit that is now banned.

His Olympic gold medal winning time of last Saturday, 50.39sec, is the fastest ever without a supersuit.

"It's great to achieve your goals but you can't be content with achieving your goal for too long. You've got to shoot for bigger and better things," he said.

"I fail more than I succeed," he added disarmingly.

In the evening, he was at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, scene of his nine-gold haul at last year's SEA Games, to meet national aquatic athletes.

Whether primary school pupils or national swimmers, all wanted a moment with the history-maker and rushed to get an autograph, take a wefie and even touch his medal.

Schooling sportingly obliged as many as he could.

It was inked at a parlour in North Bridge Road.

It joins a tattoo of the Texas Longhorns, the logo of the swim team at the University of Texas he attends, on his left shoulder.

The homecoming celebrations will continue tomorrow at 9.30am when an open-top bus parade is planned for Singapore's first Olympic champion.

The bus will go past Old Airport Road, Marine Parade and Singtel Comm Centre before ending at Raffles City.

Apart from gunning for Phelps' record, Schooling also told the media about his big plans for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

He signalled his intention to take on more events at the next Olympics.

In Rio, he swam in two - the 100m fly and 100m freestyle.

"I think I can medal in the 200m butterfly. I've been training the 200m fly, that's why I can finish the 100 well," he said.

"I did the 100m free, first time at the Olympics, and finished in the top 16. I think I have a good chance in that.

"I want to do the 200m individual medley also."

He will also train for the Tokyo Games free from national service commitments after Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Monday that the swimmer's stint will be deferred by four more years.

On the extension, Schooling said: "I'm very honoured and privileged to be granted this deferment... I worked hard for it. This will give me a push for 2020.

"I'd rather be thinking about 2020 now for the long run and having this deferment kind of lifts the weight off my shoulders."

He is scheduled to fly back to the United States, where he is studying, early on Friday.

Additional reporting by Alvin Chia and Nicola 

Schooling mania at victory parade
By Chua Siang Yee, The Straits Times, 19 Aug 2016

Joseph Schooling fever hit new peaks yesterday as thousands of Singaporeans showed up at his three- stop victory parade to celebrate with the country's first Olympic gold medallist.

The parade saw the butterfly specialist hopping from Marine Terrace Market to Singtel Comcentre before ending at Raffles City Shopping Centre on an open-top bus.

The event rounded off his homecoming. The University of Texas at Austin student arrived home from Rio de Janeiro on Monday, and left for the United States this morning.

Yesterday, Schooling told The Straits Times: "The victory parade was amazing. I can't thank everyone enough. I am very sorry I could not get to all who showed up, but I am sure there will be a next time."

Fans will get another chance to see him in November, when he will be back for a week for a Singapore Swimming Association fund-raiser.

With him yesterday were his parents Colin and May, long-time domestic helper Yolanda Pascual and close friend and national swimmer Teo Zhen Ren, among others.

Fans packed the pit stops and lined the route, waving mini Singapore flags and chanting his name. Some held placards, others tried to pass gifts, while many simply screamed when they saw him.

His presence did, however, cause two minor traffic accidents as distracted drivers paid too much attention to him and not the road.

At Raffles City Shopping Centre, people saw a replay of his historic 100m fly final, where he beat Michael Phelps, Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh to clinch gold in an Olympic record of 50.39 seconds. The crowd then sang the National Anthem.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu and Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, president of the Singapore National Olympic Council, joined in the fun at the final stop as they met him for a private gathering.

Screams, cheers for Schooling
Swimmer who struck gold at Rio greeted like a rock star as nearly 10,000 turn up for three-hour victory parade
By Chua Siang Yee, The Straits Times, 19 Aug 2016

He may have beaten the greatest Olympian of all time and is the first Singapore athlete to get a standing ovation in Parliament.

Yet neither conquering Michael Phelps nor taking wefies with members of the Cabinet could have prepared Singapore's first Olympic champion Joseph Schooling for the events of yesterday morning.

Cheered on by almost 10,000 people who either lined the streets of his victory parade or packed the three pit stops - Marine Terrace Market, Singtel Comcentre and Raffles City Shopping Centre - the 21-year-old swimmer who struck gold at the Rio Olympics was greeted like a rock star.

From overly doting aunties to screaming teens, from overzealous fans who shoved papers to be autographed to drivers so distracted that two got into minor accidents, Singapore was hit by Schooling fever.

"The support today was really incredible," said a stunned Schooling.

"I didn't expect so many people to turn up and I'm really thankful."

Perched on top of an an open-top bus, Schooling and his entourage - which included close friends and family - started their three-hour journey from the Singapore Sports Hub and were soon greeted by enthusiastic well-wishers.

Schooling stopped briefly at Dunman High School, Tanjong Katong Girls' School and Broadrick Secondary School, among others, as students lined the streets, waving mini-flags and homemade signs to greet the 100m butterfly champion.

But it was at the first pit stop at Marine Terrace Market - for a quick bite of fried carrot cake from his favourite stall, Bee Bee Carrot Cake - that the Marine Parade resident was left overwhelmed.

More than 1,000 residents braved the scorching sun, some queueing for nearly two hours, just to meet the star swimmer.

Former national windsurfer Rachel Charis Ng, 40, was one fan who queued early. There with her eight-year-old son Samuel to get an autograph, she said: "We have been big fans of Joseph Schooling since the SEA Games last year and have watched every event of his since."

Those who could not get close to him decided to position themselves along common corridors and carparks of neighbouring blocks just to catch a glimpse.

The mob even prevented Schooling from alighting when he arrived as they pressed against the bus.

The crowd at the second pit stop at Singtel Comcentre was a tad calmer but no less enthusiastic as they screamed his name.

His appeal even extended to drivers - as two of them, distracted by the sight of him in the bus, got into minor accidents. Fortunately, no one was hurt in either incident.

With everyone wanting a piece of the champion, the attention inadvertently shifted to members of his entourage. His parents Colin and May were swamped by autograph and wefie hunters, while national swimming coach Sergio Lopez was also approached by fans. Schooling's good friend and fellow national swimmer Teo Zhen Ren was ambushed by a group of about 20 fans as he was going to the toilet.

By the end, Schooling's long-time maid Yolanda Pascual had her hands full with gifts, including bottles of homemade chilli paste, paintings and bouquets of flowers.

Primary pupils Wynn Ng and Liam Goh, both seven, were among the lucky ones to get Schooling's autograph. Liam said: "I'm going to paste the poster on my cupboard. But I won't take it to school to show my friends, in case it gets torn."

The large turnout meant many were left disappointed as Schooling had a tight schedule. News of his return in November for a fund-raiser will provide relief. They will wait eagerly, particularly diehard fans like Salmiah Sahnan, 61, who calls him "the hero of the century".

Additional reporting by Nicole Chia and Nicola Chew

School's out, Schooling's in
Swimmer thrills the crowds during event-filled parade, with fans swarming his entourage at pit stops
The Straits Times, 19 Aug 2016

Joseph Schooling's open-top bus victory parade started at Old Airport Road and ended at Raffles City, with three pit stops along the way. The Straits Times brings you the highlights from the 4 1/2-hour parade.

1. Craziest crowd

Early birds gathered at the square outside Marine Terrace Market, the first pit stop, from as early as 8.30am. By 10am, the crowd had swelled to close to 1,000. Erupting in raucous cheers when he arrived at about 10.30am, fans swarmed the bus and delayed his entrance by about 10 minutes. They continued to cheer and followed him as he went to Bee Bee Carrot Cake for his favourite chye tow kueh (fried carrot cake).

2. Accidents

The bus encountered two traffic accidents during the parade. Along Marine Parade Road en route to the second pit stop at Singtel Comcentre Plaza, a Mercedes-Benz convertible grazed the side of the bus as its driver and passengers waved at Schooling. In another minor accident at the junction of Hotel Rendezvous and The Cathay, a Nissan sports utility vehicle bumped into a Jaguar saloon as the bus drove past.

3. Major League potential

Schooling may be best known for his speed in the pool, but atop the bus yesterday, the 21-year-old displayed his potential as a baseball player when he caught a teddy bear tossed at him by a fan outside Tanjong Katong Secondary School.4. Newfound celebrity status Those closest to Schooling - parents May and Colin, coach Sergio Lopez and best friend Teo Zhen Ren - also found themselves in the spotlight yesterday as they were swamped with requests for photographs and handshakes from the public.

5. Schooling is a Blue

While fans were eager to get a piece of Schooling during the victory parade, there was one point where they showed their disapproval - at the second pit stop at Singtel Comcentre Plaza. The swimmer drew boos from the crowd when he revealed that he is a fan of English Premier League football team Chelsea.

6. Watching his race again

While the replay of his winning swim was shown on a big screen at Raffles City, Schooling took a photo of the estimated 700-strong crowd. The replay was met with loud cheers as fans relived the moment he clinched Singapore's first Olympics gold medal. The cheers subsided as the National Anthem was played across the mall, but resumed when Schooling addressed the crowd.

Gold for Joseph Schooling: The final

A tiny nation strikes gold
Schooling gets praise from idol Phelps after triumph records a historic moment for Singapore
By Jonathan Wong, In Rio de Janeiro, The Sunday Times, 14 Aug 2016

Every time Joseph Schooling's head surfaced for a breath of air on Friday night in Brazil, a country thousands of miles away watched and held theirs.

The men's 100m butterfly race lasted less than a minute but at the end, both swimmer and Singapore sport came of age.

For Schooling, the piece of gold bearing the five Olympic rings hanging near his heart at the medal ceremony was the proof and reward of a life's journey.

He said: "It's been a tough road, not going to lie. The first guy through the wall is always bloody. I had to take that blow and I'm thankful and blessed that I have the ability to accomplish the things I dream of as a little kid.

"This moment is not about me, it's about my coaches, my friends, my family... This swim wasn't for me, it was for my country."

Where were you, future generations will hopefully ask, when Schooling won Singapore's first Olympic gold, first swimming medal, and showed the country that no dream is impossible. For the nation whose crescent moon and five stars were displayed on his black swim cap bobbing in and out of the Olympic Aquatics Stadium pool in Rio de Janeiro, this was a seminal moment 11 time zones away.

Historians will tell us that Schooling's time in the final was 50.39sec, that it was an Olympic record and the third-fastest time ever set. But numbers are binary and the beauty of his win lies in the trio of world-beaters he left in his wake.

For Schooling was majestic in the water as he beat - no, smashed, to use a phrase he likes - the best the planet had to offer.

The 21-year-old touched the wall 0.75sec faster than Michael Phelps, Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh, all in a time of 51.14 - the first time three competitors were tied for silver at the Games.

The combined winning gap in this event from the last three Olympics, all won by Phelps, was 0.28sec. The last time he lost a major 100m fly final (Olympics and World Championships) was in 2005 when he ended 1.25sec behind compatriot Ian Crocker.

Schooling was supposed to feel the pressure, this was his first Olympic final - Phelps, le Clos and Cseh have 33 Olympic medals between them - and in fact the first by any Singaporean male before him.

This was uncharted waters. Yet he showed no nerves right before the biggest race of his life, slapping his chest as he walked confidently to the Lane Four starting block, three Singapore flags to his back and a nation behind him.

Much like the 100m fly heats and semi-finals, Schooling was explosive - his 0.61sec reaction time the joint-fastest of the eight finalists - and had the lead by the turn.

National coach Sergio Lopez, who mentored Schooling for five years at the Bolles School in Florida, said that was key. He noted: "He knew he had a chance. His goal was to break the race. I feel very proud. He believes in himself. He learnt not to hesitate, he knew he could do it."

The cavernous amphitheatre was packed to the rafters with around 10,000 fans, many carrying US flags, waiting for Phelps, the human leviathan and 22-time Olympic champion, to make his move.

But the 31-year-old American, swimming in his 11th race in Rio, looked spent. Instead it was Schooling, a decade younger, who powered home. His second split of 26.75 was also the fastest.

Schooling said: "I just tried to stick to my game plan, knew I would be out fast, it was all about how much heart you had coming home, trying to get your hand on the wall first and thankfully I could."

Both two-time 100m fly world champion le Clos and five-time Olympic medallist Cseh paid tribute to Schooling during the press conference while the biggest praise came from his idol Phelps.

"I think it'll be pretty cool to see someone else break 50sec...," said Phelps, glancing in Schooling's direction. "It's up to him where he wants to take it. Ball's in his court, as big as he wants to dream, as hard as he wants to work to be able to do whatever's in (the) head."

Besides receiving $1 million from the Singapore National Olympic Council's Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme, Schooling's victory ended the Republic's 56-year wait for a second male Olympic medallist after Tan Howe Liang's weightlifting silver at the 1960 Rome Games.

Schooling said: "I've received a lot of support and that's phenomenal, can't describe what that means.

"I hope it (the gold medal) paves the way for sports in Singapore and hope it opens a lot of doors."

Joseph Schooling: Pain behind the glory
In chasing his dream, the young swimmer experienced homesickness and setbacks
By Chua Siang Yee, The Sunday Times, 21 Aug 2016

When he was younger and wanted to swim faster, Olympic 100m butterfly champion Joseph Schooling would imagine a shark coming after him.

In hindsight, the image is apt.

His - and his parents' - journey to Olympic glory has been far from a smooth one in calm waters. In fact, it felt at times like danger also lurked around the corner.

While many can picture that glorious moment when he stood atop the podium, Majulah Singapura playing, not many know about the turmoil the Schoolings faced, and the pain they had to put up with, for him to succeed.

His road to Rio began during a family gathering some time in the mid-1990s, recalled his mother May, when Joseph's grand-uncle Lloyd Valberg had a chat with him.

Valberg, a high jumper, became Singapore's first Olympian when he took part in the 1948 Olympics.

Till this day, May and her husband Colin believe that that was when the seeds of Joseph's Olympic dreams were sowed. "Joseph knew from a young age that he wanted to go to the Olympics, and I think it started from that conversation with his grand-uncle Lloyd," she told The Sunday Times previously.

"But when a kid comes to you and says he wants to go to the Olympics, you think, okay," she said, rolling her eyes.

Schooling's natural affinity in the pool was evident from a young age. Close friend and national swimmer Teo Zhen Ren, who is a year older, recalled how, even as a nine-year-old, Joseph was always the favourite whenever he raced.

"At that time, everyone already knew about him. He was beating boys older than him in almost every stroke," said Teo, a freestyle specialist. "I remember losing to him in a 50m freestyle race and being very upset."

There is also the now famous story of how Joseph woke his father up in the wee hours while on holiday in Malaysia, because he wanted to go swimming. From then, Colin, a businessman, took his son's aspirations seriously.

But he also told Joseph in no uncertain terms: "If you want to choose this lifestyle, you better be serious about it and give 100 per cent."

But it wasn't just Joseph who had to commit to that journey towards Olympic glory. His parents were very much part of the ride.

For them, support has meant more than just paying lip service to that dream.

"It's important to also participate," Colin, 68, said. "It's not just taking them to training. So we always try to be there for his training and watching his races, we read up on the sport so we can understand what he's going through."

This is why Colin's office is a vault of swimming books, filled with titles such as Championship Swim Training by Bill Sweetenham and John Atkinson, which looks at stretching a swimmer's potential.

There are also folders meticulously filled with results from each of Joseph's races, so they can track every single personal best and meet record that Joseph sets.

Colin even created some training aids to help his son early on. This included a drag chute, attached to a swimmer's waist, to build strength through resistance training.

There was also a contraption with a rubber ball which was supposed to condition Joseph to tuck his chin in when he surfaces to breath.

Being supportive also meant parting with their only child in 2009, when the Singapore Swimming Association closed its Centre of Excellence (COE), a programme which brought the nation's best talent together to train.

The Schoolings were already contemplating sending him abroad. With the COE's closure, they decided to take the plunge and send him to the Bolles School in Florida. Even if it was part of the greater goal, the change was hard to take, with May fiercely against the decision at first.

There was also the matter of finances. Flights, accommodation, living expenses and school fees totalling more than $1 million would sap the Schooling's finances. May practically exhausted her savings and they had to sell an overseas property to finance Joseph's dreams.

Pointing to the pants she was wearing, May said: "We save where we can. I've been wearing this pants for almost 30 years."

Joseph recalled those early years: "It was really hard, I was homesick all the time. I would call and say I want to come home. They give unconditionally and I couldn't have two better role models to help me on my life forward. "

They decided one parent would be with Joseph at any one time. Slowly, he got used to life in the US, blossoming into a star while training alongside future Olympic champions Ryan Murphy and Caeleb Dressel, and under the world-class coaching of Sergio Lopez at the Bolles School in Florida.

Joseph seemed on track to shine at the 2012 Olympics, when he was the only swimmer to qualify for the Games on merit.

Yet, in London, he would hit the lowest point of his nascent international career. Moments before his 200m fly heats, his caps and goggles were deemed to have flouted competition rules and he had to scramble for new ones.

It rattled him and he clocked more than two seconds off his then-personal best time of 1min 56.67sec.

Teo said the incident hurt his friend. "Joseph was definitely affected by that. He had massive expectations not only from the public but also himself. He was planning to qualify for the final actually."

Joseph sunk to what he called the "lowest point of my life". He hated swimming, he said "nasty things" to Lopez and he was unmotivated. "Sergio should've given up on me but he didn't. He stuck with me. He, my family and close friends dug me out of that hole," he said.

Joseph clawed his way back bit by bit. At the 2013 World Championships, he set two national records and reached the 200m fly semi-final. That same year, he was granted national service deferment till the Rio Olympics.

If that put more pressure on the youngster, it rarely showed. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, he clinched a silver in the 100m fly, Singapore's first swimming medal at the quadrennial meet. A month later, he won three medals at the Asian Games, including Singapore's first men's swimming gold since 1982.

The next year saw a flawless SEA Games when he swept nine golds from nine events in front of an expectant home crowd. Any doubts about his world-class ability were erased at the World Championships last August, when he finished third with a new Asian record time of 50.96 seconds, confirming one thing - that the bigger the stage, the better he swims.

Then came the Olympics, where, as a dark horse, he was the top qualifier from the heats and the semi-finals. Yet, there was still lingering doubt just before the final.

But he remained focused on his mission, dedicated to realising his childhood dream to emerge victorious.

These days, he need not fear sharks. He is now the big fish.

Joseph Schooling receives $1 million for Olympic gold medal

Historic payment a sporting landmark
Joseph Schooling becomes first recipient of a $1 million award as Rio Olympians honoured
By Nicole Chia, The Straits Times, 25 Nov 2016

When he touched the wall first in the 100m butterfly in Rio, swimmer Joseph Schooling became Singapore's maiden Olympic gold medallist.

Yesterday, the 21-year-old unlocked another first as he became the only athlete thus far to claim the landmark $1 million cheque through the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) multi-million dollar awards programme (MAP).

The MAP awards, sponsored by the Tote Board, disburse $1 million for an individual Olympic gold.

Schooling said: "It's great support from (the Tote Board). I don't think a lot of people will offer that much money to people that easily and that just goes to show how genuine they are and how invested they are in the sporting scene in Singapore, and that's really sweet."

He will pass on 20 per cent of that amount to the Singapore Swimming Association for its training and development schemes, as stipulated by the SNOC.

Said Schooling: "(I hope it goes to) youth development and just bettering young swimmers in Singapore; that's all we can ask for. Basically use the money wisely, that's it."

The University of Texas student had earlier called for more support for local athletes.

He stood by what he said, adding: "You just have to improve... I spoke a lot about that a couple of days ago and I'm not going to repeat myself.

"There are good people in the association.

"They'll lead the association in the right direction so I'm not too worried about it."

He was presented with the cheque by Tote Board chairman Moses Lee, together with guest of honour Tan Chuan-Jin, the SNOC president, as well as Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel last night.

Mr Tan, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development, paid tribute to the 2016 Olympians, saying: "I had the privilege to be in Rio to support our athletes and officials and to witness the tenacity of our athletes as they put in their best efforts to compete against the best in the world.

"I witnessed the camaraderie of Team Singapore, displayed when athletes of different sports came together to form friendships, cheer each other on and encourage one another when times were tough. What I witnessed truly exemplifies the spirit of Team Singapore."

It was a night of celebration for the Team Singapore athletes and officials of the Rio 2016 contingent, who were also present at the award presentation dinner. Singapore was represented by 25 athletes in Rio across seven sports.

The 2016 Olympians each received mementos from Rio. These included an Olympic participant pin, a personalised card from Mr Tan, an Olympians Singapore medallion, and a personalised stamp from SingPost.

Among the guests was former weightlifter Tan Howe Liang, the Republic's first Olympic medallist who bagged a silver at Rome 1960. He was joined by two-time Olympic medallist Wang Yuegu, a former table tennis player.

A replay of Schooling's winning race was screened, and the 190-strong crowd gave the swimmer a standing ovation.

He set an Olympic record of 50.39sec en route to his gold medal in Brazil in August, ahead of 23-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps of the United States, South Africa's Chad le Clos and Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, who all tied for second place on 51.14.

Schooling, who was also presented with the Meritorious Service Medal by Ms Fu at a private ceremony after the cheque presentation, believes the Republic will not have to wait another half-century for its next Olympic champion.

"Anything's possible, we have a lot of talent in Singapore," he said. "We're a young sporting nation and everything takes time.

"It took us 51 years to get a gold medal but I don't think it'll take another 51 years to have another Olympic gold medallist."

Joseph Schooling Wins Singapore's First Olympic Gold

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