Saturday 13 August 2016

Joseph Schooling Wins Singapore's First Olympic Gold

Olympic Games Rio 2016 - Joseph Schooling, Singapore's First Olympic Gold Medallist

Joseph Schooling's coronation complete as he wins Singapore's first gold in an Olympic record time of 50.39sec
By May Chen, The Straits Times, 13 Aug 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO - The boy who left home at age 14 to train in the United States, in pursuit of a dream many labelled impossible, is now the man who has delivered his nation's first Olympic gold in the Men's 100m Butterfly.

Joseph Schooling's single-minded, seven-year chase of his Olympic dream bore fruit when he touched home first on Friday night in Brazil (Saturday morning at 9.12am, Singapore time, Aug 13), showing the world - and his countrymen back home - what a small country like Singapore is capable of at sport's pinnacle.

In an Olympic-record time of 50.39sec, Schooling eclipsed the 50.83sec he clocked just the night before in the semi-finals to qualify fastest for the final.

In that same time, he became the Republic's first male Olympic medallist in 56 years. Tan Howe Liang's weightlifting silver in 1960 was the last and until now, the only won by a male athlete.

In that same time, he added a shiny gold to Singapore's modest medal tally. It now stands at one gold, two silver, two bronzes over almost seven decades of participation at the Olympics.

In an astonishing three-way tie for silver, defending champion Michael Phelps of the United States, five-time Olympic medallist Laszlo Cseh of Hungary and defending world champion Chad le Clos of South Africa all clocked 51.14sec to share second place.

Straight after his historic golden feat, Schooling told Singapore media: "This swim wasn't for me. It's for my country.

"Some people believe that Singapore has a lot of talent. I believe that. It doesn't matter where you're from really. I hope this opens new doors for sports in our country and I hope I've set a precedent for the young in our country.

"It's been a hard road, I've done something that no one in our country has done before. I've received a lot of support and that's phenomenal, that's great. I can't really describe what that means.

"But it's been a tough road, I'm not going to lie, the first guy through the wall is always bloody. I had to take that blow.

"I'm thankful and I'm blessed that I have the ability to accomplish this. This moment is not about me, it's really for my country, it's all about my coaches, my family, my friends who believed from when I was a six-year-old kid, that I could do it."

Competing against multiple Olympic champions and world champions like these, what Schooling was tasked with on Friday felt unthinkable before the race, despite the cool and confidence he has shown in Rio.

It seemed incredulous to think that a 21-year-old from Singapore, a country that before Thursday never even had a male swimmer in an Olympic final, stood a chance against the greatest Olympian of all time.

Case in point: some among the American media, while full of praise for Schooling's quality, coined the term "The King and the Kid" to describe the American great and the challenger who grew up emulating Phelps.

But there was surely no doubting the Singaporean's steely nerves tonight. It takes substance and guts - audacity, even - to beat Phelps in an event he is a three-time Olympic champion and world record holder of. And to be the man to hand Phelps his first defeat after five finals at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.

But that is now moot, for naysayers have been silenced, Schooling's years of toil rewarded and prayers from Rio to Singapore answered.

As Schooling said to the gathered Singapore media group: "I'm full of emotions right now, I don't know what to believe, whether I actually did it or whether I'm still preparing for the race.

"I need to let this moment sink in. Right now all I can say is, I'm really honoured and privileged to have the opportunity to race in the Olympic final alongside huge names like Michael (Phelps), Chad (le Clos), Laszlo (Cseh), guys that have changed the face of this sport."

On Schooling's outstanding performance, Phelps himself told the media later: "It’s faster than I went four years ago to win, but Jo’s tough. Obviously he’s had a great year last year and had a really great last two years, so hats off to him

"Nobody is happy to lose, but I'm proud of Jo. What he's able to achieve is up to him. Ball's in his court. As big as he wants to dream."

Asked what Phelps said to him after the race, Schooling told the Singapore media: "Good job, that was a great race, he said. I told him to go four more years and he said 'no way'. Hopefully he changes his mind. I like racing him."

President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Minister for Social and Family Development and president of Singapore National Olympic Council Tan Chuan-Jin as well as Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu were there to witness history made.

Singapore now has one Olympic gold. Just one, but one that is so precious.

For the first time, Majulah Singapura has rung at the Olympic Games.

And it is a sweet, sweet sound.

Historic moment for Schooling, historic moment for Singapore
By Marc Lim, Sports Editor, The Sunday Times, 14 Aug 2016

Aug 13, 2016. Remember this day.

It was when Joseph Schooling moved this nation to tears.

9.15am. Remember this moment.

It was when a Singaporean upstaged the greatest Olympian of all time to win Olympic gold.

9.59am. Remember this feeling, when Singapore's flag was raised and Majulah Singapura was sung for the first time at the Olympic Games.

Whether you were in Jurong or Ang Mo Kio, yesterday was a history-making day, as the 21-year-old swimmer won Singapore's first-ever gold at the Olympics in the 100m butterfly.

Weightlifter Tan Howe Liang's silver in Rome 1960. The table tennis team's silver in Beijing 2008. Feng Tianwei's double bronze in London 2012.

This tiny nation has been on the Olympic podium before, but never at the summit, never in a sport as high-profile as swimming, and never against a 22-time Olympic gold medallist in Michael Phelps.

Mr Colin Schooling, Joseph's father, had told his only son to "stun the world" before the final.

And stun he did. His winning time of 50.39 seconds was a new Olympic record. It was good enough to beat not only defending Olympic champion Phelps - who had yet to lose the 100m butterfly in over a decade - but also two of the world's greatest butterfly specialists, South African Chad le Clos and Hungarian Laszlo Cseh.

To say Schooling's gold touched a nation would be an understatement. It captivated a populace.

The Straits Times' Facebook live feed of the senior Schooling watching his son in action on TV from Singapore reached over 1.5 million people.

Facebook user Ace Kandar said: "My tears just flowed hearing Majulah Singapura, and seeing Mr Schooling controlling his tears and being proud as a father."

On Twitter, 380,000 tweets went out just before and after Schooling's race.

In an ode to his winning time of 50.39 seconds, the number 5039 was sold out at Singapore Pools within hours of the race.

It is little wonder that Singapore's hero is being rushed back home - flying first-class no less - so the country can honour him.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday that Parliament plans to move a motion to congratulate him on his gold, and express support for the rest of Team Singapore competing at the Rio Games.

"The motion will be a formal recognition of his achievements by Parliament," said PM Lee, who spoke to Schooling yesterday.

"I hoped he would be there with his family and he said he would."

It has been a long journey for the Schoolings.

Colin and his wife May made the decision to send their only son to the United States when he was 14, to help him realise his Olympic dream.

It meant the family was seldom together, as mum and dad shared parenting duties.

They spent a small fortune, to the tune of over a million dollars, to nurture their son's gift - on top of government grants.

The $1 million incentive for winning Olympic gold, awarded under the Singapore National Olympic Council's Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme, will go some way towards helping repay their efforts.

But for the Schoolings, it was never just about them.

"This swim wasn't for me.

"It's for my country," said Joseph after his win.

He is scheduled to return home at 5.30am tomorrow. Apart from a date in Parliament, there are plans to take him on an open-top bus ride. It will be a chance for a nation to pay tribute to their hero.

It will be another chance for Singapore to relive that remarkable night in Rio and never forget the magic of Joseph Schooling .

Time stops... then a nation celebrates
By Nicole Chia, The Sunday Times, 14 Aug 2016

The island yesterday felt the full power of sports as a unifying force. For 50.39 seconds, shortly after the clock struck 9.13am, the Republic stood still, gripped and enthralled by a flying fish, a son of Singapore, who won the country's first Olympic gold medal.

Some screams were louder than others at the different locations that The Sunday Times visited. But uniformly, across the island, Singaporean hearts swelled with joy and pride as they gathered to watch Joseph Schooling make history.

At the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh, more than 150 people had their eyes glued to a large LED screen as the 21-year-old touched home first to win the 100m butterfly final. And, in a typical sign of the times, they applauded and whipped out their smartphones to capture the moment.

Their celebration of the Republic's first Olympic gold medal was a quiet one, but the smiles on their faces spoke volumes about what Schooling's feat meant to them.

Engineer Chandra Segaran, 58, who was beaming from ear to ear after the race, said: "I thought qualifying for the finals was a big achievement, but for a tiny nation like Singapore to get a gold medal at the Olympic Games... it is fantastic."

Former national swimmer Joscelin Yeo, who was at the centre with her family, said: "I am at a loss for words; I am just so happy, so proud of him." At the OCBC Aquatic Centre, about 50 Singaporeans erupted into loud cheers as Schooling finished ahead of the United States' Michael Phelps, South Africa's Chad le Clos and Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, to win gold in a new Olympic record time.

She and other supporters stood at attention and sang as the Singapore National Anthem was played at the medal award ceremony.

At the Chinese Swimming Club, a group of 60 - mostly young swimmers after their morning training, and their parents - roared in unison.

Methodist Girls' School student Gan Ching Hwee, who is a fan of five-time Olympic gold medallist Katie Ledecky, is now a convert.

The 13-year-old said: "He (Schooling) was about a body length ahead of the rest, and I was cheering him on. He did Singapore proud. My goal is to go for the 2020 Olympics, and I hope I can win like him."

Football coach D. Ramanathan, 44, who joined a crowd of 120 at Woodlands Stadium for a screening, added: "This is going to have an impact on Singapore like we have never seen before. Previously, when we won the Malaysia Cup (in 1994), every boy started to play football. It is going to be the same thing."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated Schooling in a Facebook post, saying: "My heartiest congratulations to Joseph Isaac Schooling for his historic gold medal win, and Olympic record of 50.39 seconds for the 100m butterfly! This is Singapore's first Olympic gold medal ever, and also our first medal for #Rio2016.

"It is an incredible feat to compete among the world's best, stay focused, and emerge victorious. Congrats once again to Joseph, you made us very proud today."

Additional reporting by Yogaraj Panditurai, Jean Iau and Alvin Chia



A parliamentary moment for hero
It would be a first, as is fitting for the historic win at Rio Olympics, says Speaker Halimah
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 15 Aug 2016

For the first time in Singapore's history, an athlete will take centre stage in Parliament.

When the House sits today, a proposal will be made to congratulate national swimmer Joseph Schooling on winning Singapore's first Olympic gold medal.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first announced that Parliament would move a motion to recognise the win on his Facebook page on Saturday, adding that Schooling said he would attend the sitting.

A motion is a proposal for MPs to get something done or to express an opinion on a topic of interest.

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob told The Straits Times yesterday it would be a first, as is fitting for the historic win at the Rio Olympics.

"This is our first Olympic gold medal so we don't have a past experience," Madam Halimah said, adding that Schooling had flown Singapore's flag high.

The 21-year-old swimmer upstaged the greatest Olympian of all time to win Olympic gold, when he beat US swimmer Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly in Rio on Saturday morning.

His record-breaking time of 50.39sec pipped Phelps' 51.14sec.

The Straits Times understands that a minister will be moving the motion today - that is, make an opening speech to explain the rationale and objectives for his or her proposal. MPs can then register their interest to speak, and the debate will be open to the floor.

At the end of the debate, the House votes to endorse the motion, usually by acclamation.

Madam Halimah said that this would all take place before Parliament takes its mid-afternoon break, typically around 4pm.

MPs told The Straits Times they received an e-mail message about the motion on Saturday.

Dr Lim Wee Kiak, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Culture, Community and Youth, said he would be among those supporting the motion.

"(It) is something quite unique, as far as I know this is something that has not been done before in the 10 years I've been in Parliament," he said.

Weightlifter Tan Howe Liang had brought home a silver medal in the Rome Olympics in 1960. At that time, Singapore was under British rule, and had a legislative assembly instead of a Parliament.

PM Lee, announcing the plan for the motion on Saturday, had said that he looked forward to seeing Schooling today, and to personally congratulate him on the win.

The Parliament sitting begins at noon, and members of the public who wish to attend can view proceedings from the public gallery.




Joseph Schooling: A seven-year struggle to Olympic glory
Champ's parents sacrificed time, invested $1.35m to fulfil his dream
By May Chen, In Rio de Janeiro, The Sunday Times, 14 Aug 2016

Before the euphoria of making history in the pool yesterday, the Schoolings had to first endure seven years of toil on the road to the top of the Olympic podium.

It began with the difficult decision of sending their only child halfway across the world in 2009 to the United States, in pursuit of the training environment that could mould him into the world-beater he is today.

Joseph Schooling, just 14 then, was the one who pleaded to go. His parents were the ones hesitant to take the leap of faith.

Hours before Schooling's historic swim yesterday, his mum May recalled to The Sunday Times how the swimmer's obsession with competing at the Olympics began after meeting his grand-uncle Lloyd Valberg, coincidentally Singapore's first representative to the Games at the 1948 London edition.

To help Joseph fulfil his dream, they sent him to the Bolles School in Florida, but endured a trying start. The champion himself said yesterday of those early days: "I wasn't the easiest guy to train. I didn't want to be there."

Husband and wife took turns shuttling between Singapore and Florida to take care of their young son, each staying months at a time.

It meant the family of three were separated more than they were together, spending an average of just three weeks together a year.

Said Mrs Schooling, her voice hoarse from days of cheering her son on from the stands: "I have got to take care of two households on both sides of the world.

"It has been tough. Tough because we are not getting any younger," said the 60-year-old.

"As it is now, I am finding it more and more difficult to get over the jetlag of long haul. Age is catching up."

She is a chartered accountant, while husband Colin, 68, is a businessman. He was not in Rio as he was not feeling well.

But after watching the live telecast from the home of Joseph's good friend Teo Zhen Ren, a fellow national swimmer, Mr Schooling's first words to his son were: "I love you. Son, you have done the nation very proud."

In Joseph's build-up to the Olympics, Mrs Schooling travelled to Austin, Texas, where he is now based, to make sure that his meals and needs were well taken care of.

Financially, it has also drained the family. Tuition, accommodation, transport and other expenses over the years has required a hefty investment of nearly US$1 million (S$1.35 million).

Joseph is also a Sports Excellence scholar. The scholarship supports elite athletes with up to $90,000 in median annual stipend to train and compete at the highest level.

Mrs Schooling said: "It is tough on family life, missing each other. Financially, it has also been a big juggle, using up all our reserves and having to budget like crazy.

"It has been tough on all of us, but he wants it."

Friends tell of swimmer's competitive streak
By Jean Iau, The Sunday Times, 14 Aug 2016

They are the best of buddies in the Singapore swim team, goofing around for wefies, and you can even say they are brothers from different parents.

And Teo Zhen Ren knows, intimately, the fierce competitive streak that lurks in Joseph Schooling despite his cherubic face.

The pair were rivals who used to race each other in their childhood but are now close buddies. Teo is an Arsenal fan while Schooling supports Chelsea. Teo went to Raffles Institution while Schooling went to Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).

Teo, 22, said: "We've played a lot of sports together - Fifa (a computer game), table soccer, pool, even bowling. He can't stand losing.

"He's never afraid as well. On the last par for golf, the last shot to win at pool, he always steps up.

"We always have friendly trashtalk with each other. When I broke the national record, I told him 'I broke the national record, you haven't'. I've also said to him, 'You're never going to win the Asian Games gold' and 'Phelps will definitely catch up to you'.

"Most athletes might start doubting themselves but it works with Joseph because he's not afraid and wants to prove people wrong.

"Most swimmers say they want to go to the Olympics; for him, it's always been about winning."

David Lim, one of Schooling's former coaches and a former Olympian, said: "It's as though he tasted the feeling of winning when young and he's addicted to that feeling."

Warren Seow, Schooling's former classmate at ACS (I), said: "He was competitive even during PE lessons. He would try to run faster and be at his best when we played games like soccer. It's hard to believe that same boy would win gold at the Olympics."

Lim believes that because Schooling has this addiction to winning, he is not done yet, saying: "After he's let it sink in, there are other things he could be eyeing. First, the world record, then (Tokyo) 2020. Now that he's Olympic champ, he'll swim the 100 fly. But another way of motivating himself is to increase his repertoire of events."

Schooling learnt to be fearless from first coach Vincent Poon
By Jean Iau, The Sunday Times, 14 Aug 2016

His hands were tied but his spirit was free. He became a part of history without even getting his feet wet. Mr Vincent Poon got up at 7am yesterday as usual, but could do nothing for his former student Joseph Schooling other than willing him on.

He put his classes on hold to watch, on TV, his former student win Singapore's first Olympic gold medal.

Mr Poon, who is Schooling's first swimming coach, told The Sunday Times: "My heart was beating faster and faster before the race. We (he and his wife) were clapping and cheering. It's so unbelievable.

"I thought to myself before the race: Bronze would be very good. But Joseph wanted gold and he was so confident he could do it."

The 70-year-old first taught Schooling, then aged three, at Tanah Merah Country Club.

"He worked really hard and listened. There was a difference with Joseph and you could tell he would be a good swimmer," he said.

To Mr Poon, Schooling's quest to win was evident early. During the four years of tutelage, the coach would pit him against older and bigger boys.

Thus, yesterday morning must have brought a sense of deja vu for Schooling when he stood on the block next to Michael Phelps, 9cm taller and 10 years older.

"I remember a 50m butterfly race and this boy stood beside (Joseph) and he was so much taller and bigger," Mr Poon recalled.

"Joseph didn't want to swim. He didn't want to lose but I told him size didn't matter that much. He must have the right mindset and be fearless and try his best." Schooling won that race.

"Now he has that mindset. He's so confident of himself. The learning process he's gone through shows," the coach said.

Mr Colin Schooling, Joseph's father, agreed that Mr Poon showed his son the way. He said: "Vincent inculcated that hunger in him to win.

"Joseph is not only a swimmer but also he's a racer. There's a difference. There are thousands of swimmers in the world but only a few of them can be called racers."

Olympic champ Joseph Schooling will always be his family domestic helper Auntie Yolly's 'waterboy'
By Jean Iau, The Sunday Times, 14 Aug 2016

Coaches, teammates and rivals may have seen the evolution of Joseph Schooling the swimmer.

But very few would have witnessed the boy-to-man story of Singapore's Olympic champion from diapers to the Mizuno trunks who went prospecting in Rio de Janeiro and struck gold.

Ms Yolanda Pascual, or "Auntie Yolly", is Schooling's loyal domestic helper who has seen him through his formative years to adulthood, although in her loving eyes he is always her "waterboy".

In a Sunday Times phone interview yesterday, she said: "I've always believed in him. I was watching and shouting for him. I cannot express how happy I am... I was jumping and crying after he won."

Still working for the Schooling household after 19 years, the pair have always been close. The 21-year-old Olympic gold medallist has even called her a "second mum" in a YouTube video made by Singtel, where he showed his appreciation for her support.

She said: "When I miss him, I read our messages (on the phone). He's like my own son."

The Filipina started working for Schooling's family in 1997. She recalled: "He was playful like all boys, but (has) always been loving and caring and a very good boy. He never shouts at me or anybody."

The 56-year-old has a file filled with newspaper clippings of him. She said: "He'll always say 'I want to be No. 1'. I remember once we were watching (Michael) Phelps on TV, he told me he wanted to be there and be like him, and I knew he could do it. He has a very strong will; if he wants something, he'll get it." But he never quite had a normal childhood - a sacrifice he made to get into the record books. "When friends asked (him) to go out, he usually couldn't because he had practice early the next day," said Ms Pascual, who is married with two daughters.

When he experienced lows, she would always be there, behind the scenes, to pick him up. She said: "He told me when he was very tired, and I'd give him a massage. Even now, when he comes back, he still asks for massages and he's still like the young boy he was before he left."

Aunt in Ipoh says her heart is bursting with joy
The Straits Times, 15 Aug 2016

IPOH • The euphoria over Joseph Schooling's victory has not just been felt in Singapore.

Up north, some 560km away, his maternal aunt who lives in the Malaysian city of Ipoh is also overjoyed. Music teacher Yim Kam Ling, 58, said she has received countless messages cheering his win.

"I'm the happiest aunt in the world. My phone has been buzzing with friends and family sending their love and support for my nephew," she was quoted as saying in a report yesterday by Malaysia's Malay Mail Online news website.

Although she was unable to catch the action live because she was working, she said she was ecstatic over the victory. "My heart is bursting with joy. I can only imagine how his parents feel," she said.

Schooling's mother May, 61, hails from Ipoh and is a Singapore permanent resident who has lived in Singapore for over 30 years.

Ms Yim said that Schooling's 86-year-old grandmother Yeoh Soon Poh had also watched him race on Saturday. "I called her to tell her about the good news but she said that she had seen the race live on television."

As a child, Schooling would visit Ipoh on long breaks with his parents, said Ms Yim. But even on holiday, he never missed a swim.

"He would swim at the Ipoh Royal Gold Club, the family's pool and at Ipoh City Council swimming complex. He loved swimming when he was a child. He basically lived in the pool... To him, a day without swimming would be considered strange," added Ms Yim, who last met her nephew at the SEA Games in Singapore last year.

His talent and discipline was visible from a very young age, she said. "I have never seen a boy that age who was so focused and disciplined. Even when he was here on holiday, he would go swimming as early as 5am."

She said the family would try their best to support him at his competitions. Although the whole family was not able to be in Rio de Janeiro to cheer him on, she said "we were with him in spirit".

She is hoping to next catch the gold medallist in action at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Schooling's historic Olympic triumph, she said, should silence his critics - some of whom have called for him to return to Singapore to complete his national service.

"He was the first Singaporean athlete to receive a deferment because he was training for the Olympics, and some people wanted him to go back. I am so glad that he proved them wrong," she told the Malay Mail.

As for what she would say to her nephew, now that he has achieved his goal, she said: "I would tell him to go on and chase after his passion. Go Joe, go!"



A friendship that captured Olympic spirit
The Straits Times, 15 Aug 2016

No sooner had a 2008 photo of a bespectacled Joseph Schooling meeting his hero Michael Phelps in Singapore been posted online on Saturday, than it went viral.

The same happened yesterday when Phelps himself posted a new picture of the pair following the Singaporean's win in the 100m butterfly in Rio on Saturday. The American Olympic great placed second in a three-way tie.

"What a race!! Congrats to Joseph Schooling! We've got an updated pic! Best of luck bro! I'll be watching," Phelps captioned the picture.

Not only social media and Internet users, but the international media too have been raving about Schooling's performance and his friendship with Phelps since his triumph over his idol.

Huffington Post Canada carried the photo of the swimmers with the headline, "Photo of Joseph Schooling and Michael Phelps captures Olympic spirit".

The photo was also carried in Time.

More praise poured in for Schooling yesterday, with ESPN writer Julien Linden saying in a column: "He may come from a swimming minnow, but Schooling is no Eric the Eel, and he didn't just beat Phelps for the gold, he beat him every step of the way.

"Ten years younger than Phelps, the 21-year-old beat him in the heats, beat him again in the semis, beat him off the blocks in the final, beat him over the first 50m, beat him over the last 50m, then beat the Olympic record Phelps set in Beijing, with the Singaporean winning the gold in 50.39 seconds."

The New York Times had this headline, "Somebody (his name's Joseph Schooling) finally beats Michael Phelps".

It was indicative of the big upset he achieved.

Noting how he has broken down barriers in Singapore, South China Morning Post writer Nazvi Careem wrote: "The 21-year-old's victory has fostered unity." focused on Schooling earning "the biggest bonus of anyone in the world".

"Singapore's prize (S$1 million) is significantly larger than that of any other country," it said. "The second- largest amount is Indonesia's US$383,000 (S$515,000) gold medal bonus. In comparison with the US, Schooling's bonus is over 30 times larger than the US$25,000 offered to American athletes."



Showdown in Rio as Schooling eyes gold

Schooling eyes gold but will have to beat a field which includes Olympic star Phelps
By Jonathan Wong, In Rio de Janeiro, The Straits Times, 13 Aug 2016

Joseph Schooling continues to redefine what is possible for a Singaporean athlete.

Not content with being the only swimmer to go under 51 seconds in the 100m butterfly this year - on the biggest stage at the Olympics no less - he is relishing the pressure and using it to fuel his ambition of winning Olympic gold tonight (9.12am Singapore time).

He served notice on Thursday in the Rio Olympic Aquatics Stadium pool, topping the time sheets in the 100m fly heats and semi-finals and will head into today's final as the fastest qualifier and the Republic's first male Olympic finalist.

His time of 50.83sec was a new personal best, a national and Asian record and was also the event's quickest time in 2016. Pleased? Yes. Contented? Not quite yet.

Towel over his head, water dripping from his hefty body, he said minutes after his race: "That's not really a benchmark. It's all about winning the gold medal.

"I don't care if I break the world record and get a silver or bronze, I still lost. It's all about winning."

A glance at his statistics will encourage coaches Eddie Reese, Schooling's mentor at the University of Texas, and Sergio Lopez, who trained Schooling for five years at the Bolles School in Florida. Schooling had the quickest reaction time (0.61sec) of the 16 semi-finalists, the third-fastest first 50m (23.81) and fastest return leg (27.02).

National coach Lopez said: "Jo's execution of his swim was good. When it comes to the final, it's not about your timing. You could swim 52 but touch the wall first and that's all that matters."

To do that, he will have to stop the indomitable Michael Phelps, winner of this event for the past three Olympics and also the Games record holder (50.58 set at Beijing 2008).

At 31, the American still looks as dominant as ever, winning all four of his events in Brazil. The 22-time Olympic champion clocked 51.58 in the first 100m fly semi-final and was fifth fastest but that can be attributed to fatigue. He had won the 200m individual medley, held about 35 minutes before the 100m fly semis.

South African le Clos, 24, a double 100m fly world champion, was second-fastest in 51.43 followed by Chinese teen sensation Li Zhuhao (51.51). Five-time Olympic medallist Laszlo Cseh (51.57) of Hungary completes the formidable line-up.

Phelps, le Clos and Cseh, 30, will be on either side of Schooling in Lane 4, and hold the edge in terms of experience at this level. But Schooling, a 100m fly bronze medallist at last year's World Championships in Russia with a previous best of 50.96, is young and fresh.

He has swum less in terms of distance (400m) and spent less time (3min 19.21sec) in the pool racing, far less than his main rivals Phelps (1,700m & 19:17.62), le Clos (1,400m & 15:45.06) and Cseh (800m & 7:29.65).

After the heats, Phelps referred to Schooling as "a great swimmer" and a Swimming Australia official, passing the Singapore media in the mixed zone, added that "you guys have a special one in that boy" as he pointed in Schooling's direction.

Since the post super-suit era from 2010, only Phelps (50.45) and le Clos (50.56) have managed faster times than Schooling.

Tao Li was previously the only Singaporean to swim in an Olympic 'A' final. She finished fifth in the 100m fly at the 2008 Beijing Games.

But Schooling has loftier goals in mind. He said: "I'm all about winning medals, trying to win.

"It's great to be the first (Singaporean) to make the top eight but we have a lot of young talent coming up and I'm sure a lot of people in the future from Singapore can make the top eight.

"We shouldn't be looking at only making the top eight, we should be looking at winning medals and winning gold medals. So that's what I'm trying to set."

One of his favourite movies is Peaceful Warrior, a film about a gymnast who suffers a horrific leg injury but recovers.

In the final scene in the midst of his routine, the protagonist asks himself, where are you?

"Here", comes the reply in his head.

What time is it? "Now."

What are you? "This moment."

For Schooling, this could finally be his time, his golden moment.

Positives for Quah Zheng Wen amid Rio pressure
By Jonathan Wong, In Rio de Janeiro, The Straits Times, 13 Aug 2016

A couple of personal bests and semi-final appearances will be a source of encouragement for national swimmer Quah Zheng Wen as he plots his next Olympic assault at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The 19-year-old thrived in the butterfly events at the Rio Olympics, shaving off time in both the 100m and 200m fly while securing a top-16 ranking as well.

He clocked 1min 56.01sec in the longer event and finished 10th overall. His previous best was 1:56.26.

On Thursday night at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium, he had qualified for the 100m fly semi-finals after a PB of 52.08 in the heats - faster than his previous mark of 52.25 - but was disappointed with his 15th-placed finish following a 52.26 effort.

National coach Sergio Lopez had tipped Quah to make the top eight in at least two of his events and break some national records.

Said Quah with a sigh: "It was going pretty well until the 75m (mark) but I couldn't finish.

"I didn't have a good start, messed up my dive a little bit. Just had a bad race, can't be helped."

Curiously, Quah's best times came during the morning heats instead of the night races, in which he succumbed to the pressure-cooker environment of the Games.

It demands the best of you but simultaneously is "not really something a lot of people can train for," he noted.

"You could say it's (lack of) experience but a lot about it is the mental state, how you handle the environment around you.

"It's just different being at the Olympics compared to other meets. It's pretty wild."

What was less fun was his 100m backstroke outing.

He stopped the clock in 54.38sec, 0.35 slower than his best, and finished 22nd when harbouring grander ambitions.

He said: "I think I did pretty well, for the 200m and 100m fly, which wasn't my main event...

"So that's pretty nice. I wish I could have done things a little bit better. But things like that happen and I know I could be a lot better."

His first steps as Olympic victor
Schooling is ordained as Singapore's golden boy with American great by his side
By May Chen, In Rio de Janeiro, The Sunday Times, 14 Aug 2016

From the second his hands touched the wall in Olympic record time, the kid's life - and Singapore sporting history - would be changed forever.

A powerful slap of the water, victorious fist pumps in the air, Michael Phelps leaning in for a congratulatory pat on the back, and the coronation was complete.

The kid has now beaten the king.

Winning your nation's first Olympic gold is naturally historic for your countrymen. But beating the greatest Olympian of all time, in the final individual race of Phelps' storied career, gets you the attention of the world.

Now they want to know who the kid is; now they are curious where he hails from.

In a flash, the pool deck transforms into unfamiliar territory, so the kid looks up into the stands in search of a familiar figure. Mum is seated too high up, so the kid just blows her a kiss for now.

A hug, and an 'I love you' will have to wait, for countless cameras and flashlights were going off before him. In the media mixed zone, more awaited to hear from the kid.

His mind is in a blank, so he simply speaks his mind.

"It hasn't sunk in," he said. "I'm sorry if I don't seem like I'm full of emotions right now. I don't know what to believe."

If the magnitude of his feat was hard to fathom, even for the challenger-turned-champion, seeing his flag raised in the Olympic Aquatics Stadium and hearing his National Anthem must have helped.

But even then, it all remained too unbelievable. Standing atop the podium with three of the world's finest butterfly specialists, the very people he has idolised and emulated standing one step below - surely this was too good to be true?

He has worked tirelessly in pursuit of this moment. He admits it has been very hard and the "first one through the wall always gets bloody". But now that toil has turned into triumph, the kid does not quite know what to do.

So in his victory lap, he looks to another familiar figure. This time, the king who has been the kid's inspiration and obsession for so long.

He turns to Phelps and says: "Dude, this is crazy. I don't know how to feel right now. This is out of this world."

Phelps has been through this 22 times before, so he simply smiled, gave his successor a reassuring pat on the back and replied: "I know."

Having grown up in pursuit of the American's footsteps, to have Phelps close by as he took his first steps as champion was huge for the kid.

He said: "Just being beside (Phelps), walking that victory lap - I will really cherish that for the rest of my life."

Before a room packed with the world's media, king and kid would reminisce about their meeting in 2008 at the Singapore Island Country Club, when they chased mischievous monkeys who stole energy bars from the pool deck.

By then, it had been more than an hour since his most famous victory and countless headlines from the New York Times to the BBC carrying the kid's name had already hit the Web. His own national English daily would also add a gold medal to its masthead of its Facebook profile, unheard of in the broadsheet's 171-year history.

Journalists from Singapore would ask him questions, but those from Spain, Norway, Israel and America would also be curious about the kid who looked up to the king.

Said the new champion, who appealed with his predecessor to go four more years: "Without Michael, I wouldn't be at this point. He's the reason I wanted to be a better swimmer."

About an hour later, the kid was finally in Mum's embrace. Finally, on the phone with Dad, who from Singapore sent 'I love you's' over a short call.

Standing silently by the corner was coach Sergio Lopez, watching his pupil bask on the night of his life, and himself so emotional a simple handshake would evoke tears.

The kid has a message for those who want to know who he is and where he is from.

He said: "It doesn't matter where you're from, really. This shows that people from the smallest countries in the world can do extraordinary things."

The kid is Joseph Schooling, and he is going home to Singapore.

Joseph Schooling, Singapore's First Olympic Gold Medallist

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