Team Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling at the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar. (Photo by Andrew Tan / Sport Singapore)
Team Singapore swimming star Joseph Schooling begins his medal bid at the 2014 Asian Games on Sunday in the 200m butterfly as he looks to build up on an already sensational year.
While much of the swimming world has their eyes on the rivalry between China’s Sun Yang and Park Tae-hwan of South Korea, Schooling has made observers sit up and take notice since winning the 100m butterfly silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Schooling’s triumph in July earned his country their first ever swimming medal at the Commonwealth Games and sparked predictions that he could be a contender for Olympic glory in Rio in 2016.
The 19-year-old makes his Asian Games debut on Sunday before the butterfly specialist targets medal glory in the 100 meters fly on Wednesday and 50m fly on Thursday.
Schooling has been drawn in Heat One, and he will be up against Japan’s Kenta Hirai and China’s Wang Pudong. While many will feel that the Singaporean’s best medal hope lies in the 50m or 100m events, he showed his ability to go the distance by winning gold at the SEA Games in Myanmar last year in the 100m and 200m competitions.
Schooling, who attends the University of Texas, has set the fastest times in Asia this year in both the 50m and 100m butterfly and, according to his father Colin, his training schedule has been focused on achieving his goals in Incheon.
“The Asian Games has always been the target. You cannot peak many times in a year, maximum two,” he told The Straits Times recently.
"Joseph, his coaches and I were always in discussion. We targeted the Asian Games but, after that, we decided it would be be good for Joseph to go for the Commonwealth Games, and test himself against countries like Australia, South Africa and England.
"Now, he knows where he stands compared to those countries. And it's time for him to compete against the top Asian countries like China and Japan."
The test starts on Sunday and for Singapore sports fans, Schooling should provide plenty of excitement as he looks to continue his impressive rise in the sport.