What makes an Olympic Champion? Five things you didn’t know about Singapore’s giant-killer Joseph Schooling

The 21-year-old Asian champion set a new Olympic record of 50.39 seconds as he edged out his American Michael Phelps, who ended in a dead heat for silver alongside South Africa’s Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 August, 2016, 8:22pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 7:56am

Five things you didn’t know about Joseph Schooling, who pulled off one of the biggest surprises in Olympic Games swimming history by beating Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly final on Friday in Rio de Janeiro.

Singapore had never won an Olympic gold before Schooling’s breakthrough. The country first entered the Olympics in 1948. Singapore’s first medal was a silver in weightlifting at Rome in 1960. Singapore waited 28 years before winning their next medal, a silver in table tennis at Beijing in 2008. In London, Singapore won two bronze medals in table tennis.

Joseph Schooling met Phelps by chance when he was 13 and had his photograph taken with him. Phelps was in Singapore preparing for the Beijing Olympics and was training at one of the pools where Schooling also practiced. Schooling said Phelps was his idol growing up but had no regrets about beating him in his final race.

To further his swimming career, Schooling left Singapore when he was 13 and moved to Florida to train at the Bolles School, living in a boarding house with older boys. He regularly fought with his coach Sergio Lopez, the Spaniard who won a bronze medal in breaststroke at the 1998 Olympics, but credits him for his success.

It is mandatory for Singaporean men to perform two years of National Service after finishing school. Schooling competed at the 2012 London Olympics, and a year later the government agreed to defer his enlistment for three years to let him continue training in the United States for the Rio Olympics.

Schooling bears a tattoo on his back, depicting the head and horns of a Longhorn, a breed of Texas cattle, and the emblem of sporting teams at the University of Texas, where he studies and trains. Underneath the cattle horns are the words, “Come and Take It.” Schooling had to convince his parents before they allowed him to get the tattoo.


: Philip Au

A photo posted by Joseph Schooling (@josephschooling) on Oct 23, 2015 at 6:42am PDT