Written by Staff Writer
13 Aug, 2016 | 12:59 pm
Joseph Schooling won the men’s 100 metres butterfly final on Friday (August 12) to secure Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal and deny Michael Phelps a 23rd in the last individual race of the American’s extraordinary career.
Schooling told media inside the aquatic centre that he is “just ecstatic” and that he didn’t “think it has set in yet.” About 100 Singaporeans gathered at a local aquatic centre in Singapore to watch the race on Saturday (August 13) morning.
Tears and cheers were seen as Schooling touched the wall, setting a new Olympic record for the event. “Well I would say congratulations to Joseph, May and Colin Schooling. They have done something Singapore has only been able to dream about in the last 51 years. And finally we’ve done it.
And he has managed to unite the nation, unite the people together, every Singaporean a swimmer today. You know, everybody was supporting him, switching on their TVs and looking out for him, every single one. And I want to wish him all the best, congratulations again, and well done Joseph,” said Edwin Ker, the executive director of the Singapore swimming association.
Some supporters are already looking forward to the next Games. “Very good. All excitement, and I think Joseph has done Singapore proud. Very good,” said Eugene Tan.
“I think this is awesome. I mean first ever. We are all looking forward to the next Olympic gold. 2020, here we go,” said Mei Hong.
Known at home for smashing national records and taking multiple titles in regional competitions, Schooling had held the hopes of Singapore, a Southeast Asian island nation of less than six million, which had only won two silvers and two bronzes since it joined the Olympic fold in 1948.
An assistant coach to the Singapore national swim team said Schooling’s win is definitely “helping the swimming community as a whole”.
“Getting more interested in the sport in general, and also as a sporting nation we are young, but this kind of things definitely sets the tone for much better movement for sports here in Singapore,” said Gary Tan, an assistant swimming coach to the national team.
Singapore has spent millions trying to win more medals at the Olympics, including offering a Foreign Sports Talent programme which grants promising foreign athletes citizenship, as well as a S$1 million ($743,494.42) prize for gold medals.
Schooling left the country at 14 to train in the United States and now studies at the University of Texas in Austin, whose programme is led by two-time U.S. Olympic men’s head coach Eddie Reese.
Phelps, the defending champion and world record holder who is heading into retirement — again — after Rio, finished second in a three-way dead heat with two of his greatest rivals — South Africa’s Chad Le Clos and Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh.
Astonishingly, all three touched out in 51.14 seconds, behind Schooling’s Olympic record 50.39 in the second dead-heat in a final in two days.
Joseph Schooling qualified with the top time for 100m butterfly final, will race vs Phelps, who he met as a child pic.twitter.com/gfivuaE00N
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 12, 2016
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