After winning an unprecedented Gold medal at this year’s Olympic Games, it’s not a stretch to say that Joseph Schooling has inspired a nation following the outpouring of praise from international media and fellow athletes alike.
Throwback to TeamSG swimmer Joseph Schooling's victory in the 100m Butterfly. Photo: Sport Singapore
Hundreds turned up at Changi Airport to welcome Joseph back in the wee hours of Monday morning, including many school-going children – some of whom were visibly awed by his presence.
A trailblazer of this generation, all it took was 50.39 seconds to capture the hearts and minds of Singaporeans and become a role model for aspiring athletes in our little island-state.
He has shown that Singaporeans can dare to dream of making it on the world stage, and that “people from small countries can do extraordinary things”.
While making a visit to his alma mater Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) on Tuesday, he was greeted by a rousing welcome with students loudly chanting "Let's go Schooling!”.
TeamSG swimmer Joseph Schooling at his alma mater, ACS (Junior). Photo: Sport Singapore
Many of the students were immensely proud of Joseph’s achievements, and his feats in the pool have given hope to many outside it.
“I was very happy when he won. I'm not in the swimming team but he still inspired me to train harder and maybe in a few years I can play football in a bigger country with bigger teams,” ACS Junior student Allen said.
Some, like Shayne Zhu, was star struck and wanted nothing more than to emulate Singapore’s swimming sensation.
“Joseph Schooling is the best. I want to be like him in running. It was exciting to see him come first,” he said.
The students of ACS (Junior) who were inspired and motivated by TeamSG swimmer Joseph Schooling. Photo: Sport Singapore
Kai Sheng, however, was encouraged for a different reason. In a nation where academic results are often valued more than sporting achievements, he was heartened to learn Joseph’s parents gave him so much support to pursue sports.
“I'm inspired because he shows that if you work hard and believe that you can be the best then your parents will support you too,” he said.
Joseph also left some words of wisdom for young athletes, “You got to believe you are the best. That’s the first step to achieving your goals.”
“I just tell myself everyone has got to chase me down. Like, no way you are going to beat me,” the Olympic record holder said. “It’s a little bit cocky, but it’s fine. It’s good for racing.”
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