Joseph Schooling- What to expect from the Michael Phelps fanboy at the Tokyo Olympics
He claimed Singapore's first Olympic Gold against all odds and will be aiming to repeat the feat at Tokyo Olympics this month.
At the age of 13, Joseph Schooling rushed from the middle of his homework to meet his swimming idol who was part of a delegation his dad was hosting. The youngster was in awe and managed to click a picture with a man who was the world's best swimmer at that time. But this was no ordinary meeting or picture. It was an image that would be at the centre of the world's attention 8 years on during the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Rio 2016 was dominated by the headlines about Michael Phelps and his final show at the Olympics. The 'Sharkman' surged through the pool yet again and added another set of medals to his massive tally. One very famous story was when he lost out on claiming Gold in the 100m Butterfly event.
Apart from the fact that he would not get another Gold Medal, it was also the man who got the better of him who made news all across the world. Joseph Schooling, a swimming prodigy from Singapore was the man who beat Phelps with a timing of 50.39 seconds. He did so with the finest of margins and managed to sustain himself till the end to beat his childhood hero. The story was almost out of a movie.
Post the Olympics, Schooling has not had the best consistency in his career. He had aimed to continue the momentum in the World Championships held post the Olympics. However, in 2019, he lost in the heats at the World Championships being held in Korea. It was a shock to him and the swimming fraternity that would have ideally seen him have an upward trajectory to his career.
Another shock was at the South East Asian Games when he managed to win only one accolade despite competing in events with minimal competition. Criticism came from all over with fans accusing him of not performing and training hard enough for the event. He later admitted that he did not try hard enough at the games but also realized the potential that was there for him to improve upon his timings.
Given that he has had a year to train owing to the pandemic, Joseph Schooling will be looking to get his career back on track and achieve Singapore's second individual gold medal at Tokyo. He shifted back to the US to train with his former coach and has been competing regularly in various aquatic meets to improve his personal best.
At the ISCA International Senior Cup held earlier this year, he finished in 2nd place in the 100m Butterfly behind ace swimmer Caeleb Dressel. It is a sign of him returning to his best with regular timings below 53.5 seconds being a constant feature for Schooling. In order to actually assure himself of a medal this year, he must cut his timing below 50 seconds to put him ahead of Kristof Milak and Chad Le Clos, two other ace competitors who are predicted to make it straight to the final.
It has been 5 years since Michael Phelps was finally beaten by a youngster from Singapore. Expectations will be high for the man who describes his best competitor as himself. Despite his career being a rollercoaster for the past few years, Joseph Schooling will be looking to put everything behind him in a bid to achieve another gold medal for Singapore. He has come a long way and his determination should see him through till the final lap.