Joseph Schooling, Singapore’s first-ever Olympic medalist and newest national hero, has received a lot of praise from Singapore and its people following his victory in the men’s 100 meter butterfly in the Rio Olympics, where he took down reigning gold medalist Michael Phelps, among others, in a blistering 50.39 seconds. Schooling received a large cash reward for his Olympic victory, as well as other honors including free flights for life with AirAsia and more recently an honorary country club membership.
Schooling’s ‘honorary’ induction into the Singapore Island Country Club is the most recent praise the 21-year-old has received since claiming the Olympic gold medal, though it comes as only one more accolade he has received in a torrent of praise following his accomplishments in Rio. Many National Olympic Committees reward their athletes with cash bonuses for medals earned in Olympic competition. The USA, for example, awards athletes $25,000 for every gold medal they bring home ($15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze). Smaller countries with less prestigious histories in Olympic competition frequently offer their athletes much more money for each medal captured, especially golds. In the case of Singapore, Schooling was rewarded $750,000 by the Singaporean Olympic Committee for his gold medal, a reward which sparked controversy in the NCAA as Schooling is a student-athlete at the University of Texas. Though student-athletes have traditionally been allowed to keep their cash prizes for Olympic performances, some in the NCAA questioned whether such a large sum still qualified Schooling an ‘amateur.’
Singapore Island Country Club (SICC), where Schooling swam from 2000 – 2009, will welcome Schooling back on November 21st for a meet and greet session while he visits the country for a week-long tour of charitable event appearances. As SICC’s official swimming ambassador, Schooling has long been revered by his local club; the now-famous picture of a 13-year-old Joseph Schooling and a 23-year-old Michael Phelps was taken at SICC shortly before Phelps made history in Beijing by winning 8 gold medals in August of 2008.
SICC is the second country club in Singapore to honor Schooling with an honorary membership, following Tanah Merah Country Club (TMCC), which gifted Schooling with an honorary membership upon his return to Singapore after winning gold in Rio. While the memberships are non-transferable and have no real monetary value, the prices of SICC and TMCC memberships are still valued at $115,000 and $95,000, respectively. Schooling is welcomed into both clubs as a national hero and also a legacy, as his parents are members of both clubs.
On top of the $750,000 Schooling received from the Singaporean Olympic Committee, he was also gifted free flights for life from AirAsia, which he in turn gifted to para-swimmer Benson Tan. Schooling recently returned to NCAA competition after missing the first couple of meets with the Longhorns, quelling any doubts that he was going to go pro this year. The Olympic gold medalist is also the NCAA and U.S. Open record holder in both the 100 and 200 yard butterfly, and a two-time NCAA champion in both events.