JAKARTA: Singapore Olympic champion Joseph Schooling qualified for the final of the 100m butterfly event with the fastest overall time at the 2018 Asian Games on Wednesday morning (Aug 22), putting behind his disappointing performance in the 50m freestyle heats the previous day.
The 23-year-old clocked 52.31s at the Gelaro Bung Karno aquatic centre in Jakarta to finish fastest ahead of 34 competitors.
Kazakhstan’s Abdilbek Mussin was second fastest overall, clocking 52.99s while China’s Li Zhu Hao touched the wall in 52.50s to qualify third quickest.
Schooling’s national teammate Quah Zheng Wen qualified fourth fastest overall, clocking 52.76s.
Schooling told reporters after the race that he was satisfied with the effort as he “wanted the middle lane” for the final.
“I thought that was fine; morning swim, most important thing was getting into the top eight,” said Schooling.
Schooling also spoke about his closest competitors for tonight’s final, lauding Mussin for a “solid” effort in the heats and said he expects Li to “drop more time” for tonight’s final.
“Li has been swimming all this meet. It’s anyone race tonight, you never know whats going to happen,” said Schooling.
“But I don’t really care about anyone else, it’s all about focusing on myself tonight. That’s all i can control.”
Li was Schooling’s closest competitor for the 100m butterfly at the previous edition of the Asian Games in 2014, in Incheon, South Korea. Then, Schooling won gold in 51.76s while Li finished 0.15s behind him.
This is the first time Schooling is featuring at the Asian Games as an Olympic champion, having famously won gold in 2016 at Rio de Janiero, beating swim legend Michael Phelps with a news Games record of 50.39s.
But he maintains that his Olympic exploits is the past and have no impact over what he achieves in the present.
“You know, it starts all over again. What you did two years ago doesn’t have bearing on what you do now so … it’s setting up to a good race tonight, I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
Schooling and Quah will race the 100m butterfly final on Wednesday evening at 6pm local time (7pm, Singapore time).
Later on Wednesday, Singapore’s Lionel Khoo will be competing in the 100m breaststroke final after finishing eighth fastest in the heats out of 32 competitors and Quah Jing Wen will feature in the 200m butterfly final after qualifying sixth fastest from 15 competitors.
Get the widest coverage of the 18th Asian Games (Aug 18 – Sep 2) from Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia on Mediacorp. Go to toggle.sg/AsianGames2018 for details.
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