With a gold medal around his neck, Joseph Schooling could not hide his smile as more than 500 people erupted into cheers welcoming the 100m Butterfly Olympic champion back to Singapore at Changi Airport on Monday morning.
The 21-year-old, who beat Olympic legend Michael Phelps in record breaking fashion to win Singapore's first Olympic gold, was all smiles as he hugged his father upon his arrival.
TeamSG swimmer Joseph Schooling (left) hugged his father, Colin Schooling, upon arrival back home. Photo: Sport Singapore
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Singapore National Olympic Council Vice-president Tan Eng Liang and Sport Singapore’s Chief Executive Officer Lim Teck Yin were also among the hundreds of fans who turned up in the wee hours of the morning to celebrate his return.
“I just want to thank you all for coming, thank you fans, thank you to the media, thank you everyone for coming,” said Joseph, addressing the crowd.
Holding his Olympic gold medal, he added: “This is not for me, this is for everyone, every Singaporean here.”
Having landed at about 5.35am, Joseph took in the adoration of the screaming crowds as he went around shaking hands, taking selfies, signing autographs and giving hugs.
The University of Texas undergraduate was a complete professional and even stopped at a group of students who were from his alma mater, Anglo-Chinese School Junior – posing with the school flag while holding his medal.
Joseph had told Singapore Swimming not to rush him on his return and that he wanted to take his time with his fans. And take his time, he did, like a true gentleman, patiently signing autographs and taking selfies without a hint of exhaustion or impatience.
He only finished making his way through the crowd at around 7.30 - almost a whole two hours after he landed - despite what must have been a tiring and long journey from Rio de Janeiro.
Joseph is looking to take a break now, spend some time with his friends and family and eat some good old Singapore style stir-fried carrot cake. But his father, Colin Schooling, is already looking ahead, fully believing in the potential of his son.
"Joseph's motto is dare to dream and I think he's done a good job,” he told the media.
“Now we have to aim for the world record,” he added.
Pledge your support for our TeamSG athletes now!