SINGAPORE – Twelve months ago to the day (Aug 12), swimmer Joseph Schooling made history by winning the 100m butterfly final in Rio de Janeiro to become Singapore’s first Olympic gold medallist.
The 22-year-old answers five questions from The Straits Times sports desk about that momentous occasion.
Q: How often do you watch the race video?
A: “Not often. Usually when I come back home to Singapore, when they display it. I leave the business of the pool in the pool.”
Q: The best moment of the week, apart from winning and the anthem?
A: “The next morning, before my flight home, I went to the dining hall at 6am and had breakfast alone. It was my only time alone and a chance to reflect on what had happened and what was going to happen back home. I ate cereal with chocolate milk.”
Q: Do you ever take out your medal to look at it?
A: “No. It’s in my mum’s office.”
Q: What’s the hardest thing about being Olympic champion?
A: “Living up to expectations – my own and everyone else’s.”
Q: What’s the best thing about being Olympic champion?
A: “The support I get which seems to get more and more even a year after the event. Seeing people appreciate your achievement and back you is wonderful.”
The Straits Times also spoke to members of the public to find out what they remember about the day of the race.
Marcus Tan, 36, occupation undisclosed
ST PHOTO: HO CAI JUN
“I watched the race on the television, at home with my family. I remembered the moment when he touched the wall to win the race. We didn’t really celebrate but we felt very happy for him. It’s the greatest sporting moment in Singapore history because it’s the first time we got a Olympic gold medal.”
Casper Chan, 27, civil servant
ST PHOTO: HO CAI JUN
“I was at the Bukit Batok Swimming Complex with my friends and they were screening the race live. During Schooling’s race, everybody stopped their classes and just went to the television to watch it. It was awesome when he won, the atmosphere was nice and the crowds cheered. The coaches at the pool were also quite funny, they all said, ‘Let’s all learn butterfly now.’ He was racing alongside Michael Phelps and I felt anxious, but when he won, I felt shocked, relieved, every emotion.”
Puzi Mohamed, 50, media director
ST PHOTO: HO CAI JUN
“I was watching at home on the television with my wife and children. We were jumping and enjoying the moment. It was a remarkable achievement for a Singaporean to win an Olympic gold medal, it’s a milestone in our sporting history. The outstanding fact was that he was able to beat his competitors, some of them were more experienced than him, so he was sort of an underdog in that race. “
Koh Han Jie, 21, student
“I was warming up before a softball match with my alumni team. We all paused our warm-ups to watch the race. Someone used 3G to stream it on their phone and we all just crowded around. When he won, I remember we all shouted and clapped. Definitely I think it was the great sporting moment in Singapore history, I remember Schooling led from the start, then we were all discussing throughout the race whether he could keep the lead. After he won, WhatsApp chats and Telegram chat groups all exploded into life.”
James Lek, 21, student
“I remember I was having a late breakfast with my family at home, so we watched it on the TV together. When he won there were some cheers but mostly just smiles all round, my parents also said that it was a proud moment for Singapore. What I remember most must be the momentary disbelief when Schooling touched the wall first, the subsequent euphoria when his win was confirmed, and the celebration by Schooling in the pool.”
Tan Aik Ling, early 50s, retired
“I was watching TV at home I think, not too sure, but I remember being very excited and also texting all my family members. I didn’t expect that Singapore would ever be able to win gold, especially in swimming so it was a pleasant surprise. Being a Singaporean, I was also very proud of Joseph’s achievements, didn’t really celebrate much, maybe just humming along to the national anthem when it was played, but subsequently I’ve been following him in the news since then. Though he has not been doing that well recently, I have confidence in him for future competitions.”
Lucas Lok, 12, student
PHOTO: COURTESY OF LUCAS LOK
“I was in the living room of my home with my family. We were overjoyed at the big win of Joseph Schooling. It’s probably not for many around the world, but for me and I’m sure for all Singaporeans, it was a historic moment. For the first time ever, a gold medal at the Olympics. Wow! Like many Singaporeans, I was happy and proud. Joseph Schooling had made history. Well, I think it was the moment he touched the pool wall before any of the other swimmers, before Michael Phelps, that’s the moment that is forever etched in my mind.”
PHOTO: COURTESY OF MANDY WONG
Mandy Wong, 21, student
“I was at home with my family. I jumped and cheered as it’s Singapore’s first step towards bigger and better things in the sports scene. Truly a moment to remember. When he won the race, it felt as if the whole of Singapore were cheering him on together. I could even hear my neighbours cheering when he touched the wall.”
More Info: www.straitstimes.com