Team Singapore’s Schooling Joseph Isaac (C) poses after winning gold medal at Men's 100m Butterfly Final (Photo by Jaewon Lee / Sport Singapore)
Team Singapore's Joseph Schooling brought in Singapore’s first Gold medal at the Asian Games, thereby putting an end to the nation's 32-year wait for Gold in men's swimming competitions at the Asian Games clocking a new Games Record of 51.76 seconds to win the 100m Butterfly event. The last time Singapore won a Gold medal in a men's swim event at the Asiad was in 1982, when Ang Peng Siong triumphed in the 100m freestyle.
Before the race began, Schooling was still the record holder for the fastest butterfly swimmer in Asia this year, a feat accomplished after he bagged Silver at the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with a time of 51.69. But while he did not manage to better that timing, he was clearly still ecstatic. Rising out of the water with a wide smile, Schooling thumped his chest and pointed to his teammates in the stands after claiming a famous victory that smashed the previous Games record of 51.83 seconds, set by Chinese swimmer Zhou Jiawei at the previous edition in Guangzhou.
China's Li Zhuhao finished second with a timing of 51.91, while third placed Hirofumi Ikebata clocked 52.08. Takuro Fujii, who swam the same timing as Schooling during the morning's heats, finished fourth in 52.09.
When asked how he felt about becoming the first Singaporean man in 32 years to win a Gold medal in swimming at the Asian Games, Schooling beamed as he said: “I am really happy. I wasn’t really thinking about that but now that you brought it up it is always good that you are breaking records. It is a great thing for an athlete. I am honored that I can do that for my country.”
Schooling's medal is his second in Incheon – with a recent Bronze medal win from the 200m butterfly – and it is Team Singapore's first Gold at this Games. The 19-year will continue his hunt for medals at Thursday's 50m butterfly event, and he said that, based on his 100m performance, he was looking forward to it.
“I think I got out pretty fast in my first 50 metres tonight, so it's going to be an interesting race tomorrow. I'm really excited for that one,” said Schooling.
Swimming coach David Lim was present to witness the momentous occasion and he is confident that the 19-year-old can only ascend to greater heights.
Team Singapore’s Schooling Joseph Isaac in action to win gold medal at Men's 100m Butterfly Final (Photo by Jaewon Lee / Sport Singapore)
“When Joseph came along I think we all knew that he was going to be the one [to break Ang Peng Siong's record]. The next step for him would be the World Championships and the Olympics. He now needs to develop as much as he can in the right environment,” said Lim.
Schooling is currently studying at the University of Texas, and while many would think that the training environment in the United States is certainly doing him good, the swimmer said that transition has actually affected his preparations for Incheon.
“To be honest, I just enrolled in university. It is a lot of change from high school to college. I just trained once a day, maybe over four weeks, clocking about 3,000 to 4,000 metres a day. It is not really much,” he said.
“I tried to prepare for this as best as I could, but it is nowhere close to where I should be or I will be doing for future events,” he added.
And while that may sound like a swimmer who is semi content with his already stellar achievements, his competitors would probably do well to take that as a warning that Singapore's golden boy will only get better in the near future.
In the other swimming final that featured a Singaporean, Quah Ting Wen finished sixth out of eight athletes in the Women's 200m Butterfly with a time of 2:14.26. China's Jiao Liuyang bagged Gold with a timing of 2:07.56. Japanese swimmers Natsumi Hoshi and Miyu Nakano came in second and third respectively.