Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling made history at the 2016 Olympic Games. In the 100m butterfly, Schooling registered an Olympic Record-setting time of 50.39, the fastest ever in a textile suit by .01 of a second.
In doing so, Schooling earned his nation’s first-ever Olympic swimming medal and also touched out 3 legends in the process. Michael Phelps (USA), Laszlo Cseh (HUN) and Chad Le Clos (RSA) all 3 tied for silver in 51.14 behind the ambitious Schooling.
Although the history-making feat lasted less than a minute, Schooling is being hailed a hero in his home country, where its citizens welcomed the 21-year-old home earlier this week. Stopping for just 4 days in Singapore before moving on to the University of Texas to start his school year, Schooling managed to greet an enormous cluster of fans at the airport, be the prime attraction in a city-wide parade, meet the Singaporean Prime Minister and get inked with the Olympic rings tattoo.
From his first foot off the plane at Changi Airport, Schooling was surrounded by hundreds of fans, ranging from old to young. The crowd welcomed home their hero, to whom Schooling said, “Thank you, everyone, for being here so early in the morning. This is not just for me, but for all of you.”
Later that afternoon, Schooling and his parents met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Parliament, where the two took a selfie to commemorate the occasion. Of the moment, PM Loong stated, “Usually people ask me for selfies, but today I felt so proud to ask Joseph for one!”
Next up for Singapore’s newest legend was a victory parade, with thousands of fans cheering for the Texas Longhorn athlete as he rode a double-decker bus through Old Airport Road to Raffles City, meeting fans along the way.
Video courtesy of Strait Times.
To sum up the sentiments of the Singaporean nation, PM Loong released the following statement via his official Facebook page.
Was deeply honoured to welcome Joseph Isaac Schooling and his parents, May and Colin Schooling to Parliament House today, where we formally congratulated him on his gold medal and expressed support for Team Singapore in #Rio2016.
Joseph’s win signifies much more than Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal. He sweated and sacrificed. With determination and fire in the belly, he has shown a new generation of aspiring athletes that dreams are worth striving for.
Achievements, too, are more than medals. Many of our athletes have come away from the Olympics with new personal bests, and valuable experience going up against the world’s best. Swimmer Quah Zheng Wen set two new personal bests in the pool. Rower Saiyidah Aisyah (Aisyah Rower) reached the quarterfinals, finishing as 3rd best Asian competitor. Sprinter Timothee Yap and shuttler Derek Wong went up against Usain Bolt and Lee Chong Wei respectively – both the best in the world. They have worked hard, and they all deserve recognition for their efforts.
The Games are still ongoing and our athletes are still competing in their respective events. I hope you’ll join me in cheering on our women’s table tennis team in their semifinal match taking place right now! – LHL