Singapore’s Joseph Schooling stuns great Michael Phelps to win Lion City’s first ever gold
Schooling pulls off a major upset at the Rio Games to beat his one-time idol in men’s 100m butterfly
Joseph Schooling pulled off a stunning upset at the Rio Olympics on Friday by beating Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly to win Singapore’s first ever gold medal.
Asian champion Schooling, 21, completed a wire-to-wire victory to deny Phelps a fourth successive title in the event, winning in a Games record 50.39 seconds as Phelps, amazingly, tied with both Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh for the silver.
“I’m sorry if I don’t seem like I’m full of emotions,” said a shocked Schooling after the race. “I don’t know what to believe – that I actually did it or I’m still preparing for my race. I’m between the two of them.
“I need to let this moment sink in, realise what I’ve done and then I’ll have a better understanding of what I accomplished. But right now all I can say is I’m really honoured and privileged to have an opportunity to race in an Olympic final alongside huge names like Michael (Phelps), Chad (Le Clos), and Laszlo (Cseh), guys that have redefined the sport.”
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Phelps, who had won four finals in Rio to take his record tally to a staggering 22 golds, clocked 51.14, along with fierce rivals le Clos and Cseh.
Victory in Friday’s fly would have given Phelps a 14th individual Olympic title, but Schooling proved too strong.
“It’s been a hard road. I’ve done something that no one in our country had done before.”
“It’s been a tough road, I’m not going to lie. The first guy through the wall it’s always bloody. I had to take that blow and I’m thankful and blessed that I have the ability to accomplish this,” Schooling said.
“I hope this opens a new door, opens more doors for sports in our country and hopefully I set a precedent for a lot more guys to come up.”
Schooling, who took bronze at last year’s world championships, punched the water and roared with delight as Phelps swam over to pat him on the back before le Clos ruffled the youngster’s hair.
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Phelps, competing in his fifth and final Games, will be odds-on to win a fifth gold medal in Sunday’s 4x100m medley relay – an event the Americans have never lost at the Olympics – to finish with a total of 23 golds.
Schooling, who was just 13 years old when he first met Phelps, revealed what his one-time hero said to him after the race.
“He said, ‘Good job, that was a great race’. I told him, ‘Four more years?’ and he said, ‘No way.’ If he changes his mind, that would be fun. I like racing Michael.”
Phelps, whose Olympic gold medal tally remains at a staggering 22, said: “I don’t know if I’ve been in a tie so a three-way touch is pretty wild.
“I saw a second next to my name then I looked up again and I looked at Laszlo and Chad and I went we all tied for second, that’s kind of cool.”
“It’s faster than I went four years ago to win, but Joe’s tough,” Phelps said.
“It’s been a really long week and I knew it was going to be a tough one.
“Obviously he’s had a great year last year and had a really great last two years, so hats off to him.”
Additional reporting by James Porteous