Yes, it was only a heat. Sure, there was nothing other than expected progress to the semi-finals on the line - and no, no one is going to read too much into the result.
But, as the little smile at the finish revealed, there was no doubt that Joseph Schooling enjoyed finishing ahead of his boyhood hero, Michael Phelps in their 100m Fly Heat.
TeamSG swimmer Joseph Schooling (right) is all smiles after finishing ahead of boyhood hero Michael Phelps (left). Photo: Sport Singapore
Schooling, the 100m butterfly bronze medalist at last year's world championships, set a time of 51.41 seconds with Phelps second in the heat with a 51.60 that left him fourth overall.
“It feels like a morning swim, relaxed and easy. (coach) Eddie (Reese) told me to put my head down on the last four strokes, but I breathed the last five just to prove a point. It was fine. I feel okay, not really tired, just ready for tonight, focused,” he said.
Smile or not, Schooling, who races in the semi-final later on Thursday after being fastest in the heats, was under no illusions about Phelps’ performance.
“I was watching Michael - we were talking in the waiting room. He knows what he has to do. He has the 200m IM final tonight, he knows what he has to do,” he said.
TeamSG swimmer Joseph Schooling (front) in action during the Men's 100m Butterfly event alongside Michael Phelps, who has won 3 Gold medals so far in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Photo: Sport Singapore
Adding to the feel good mood around Schooling was the fact that his team-mate Quah Zheng Wen also earned his place in the semis with a personal best of 52.08s.
"I feel pretty happy. It's a new personal best. I think I could have executed some things a little bit better, so I'm excited to get back out there and see how it goes,” said Quah.
It is the first time that Singapore has had two swimmers in a last 16 at the Olympic Games and they will be aiming to be the first male from the Republic to reach a final.
Tao Li is the only Singaporean swimmer to get to a final - she finished fifth in the 100m Fly at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
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