A friendship that captured Olympic spirit

This photo of a young Joseph Schooling meeting his hero Michael Phelps in Singapore in 2008 has gone viral. Many have been raving about the Singaporean's performance and his friendship with Phelps since his triumph over his idol.
This photo of a young Joseph Schooling meeting his hero Michael Phelps in Singapore in 2008 has gone viral. Many have been raving about the Singaporean's performance and his friendship with Phelps since his triumph over his idol.PHOTO: THE SCHOOLING FAMILY

No sooner had a 2008 photo of a bespectacled Joseph Schooling meeting his hero Michael Phelps in Singapore been posted online on Saturday, than it went viral.

The same happened yesterday when Phelps himself posted a new picture of the pair following the Singaporean's win in the 100m butterfly in Rio on Saturday. The American Olympic great placed second in a three-way tie.

"What a race!! Congrats to Joseph Schooling! We've got an updated pic! Best of luck bro! I'll be watching," Phelps captioned the picture.

Not only social media and Internet users, but the international media too have been raving about Schooling's performance and his friendship with Phelps since his triumph over his idol.

Huffington Post Canada carried the photo of the swimmers with the headline, "Photo of Joseph Schooling and Michael Phelps captures Olympic spirit".

The photo was also carried in Time.

More praise poured in for Schooling yesterday, with ESPN writer Julien Linden saying in a column: "He may come from a swimming minnow, but Schooling is no Eric the Eel, and he didn't just beat Phelps for the gold, he beat him every step of the way.

"Ten years younger than Phelps, the 21-year-old beat him in the heats, beat him again in the semis, beat him off the blocks in the final, beat him over the first 50m, beat him over the last 50m, then beat the Olympic record Phelps set in Beijing, with the Singaporean winning the gold in 50.39 seconds."

The New York Times had this headline, "Somebody (his name's Joseph Schooling) finally beats Michael Phelps".

It was indicative of the big upset he achieved.

Noting how he has broken down barriers in Singapore, South China Morning Post writer Nazvi Careem wrote: "The 21-year-old's victory has fostered unity."

Swimswam.com focused on Schooling earning "the biggest bonus of anyone in the world".

"Singapore's prize (S$1 million) is significantly larger than that of any other country," it said. "The second- largest amount is Indonesia's US$383,000 (S$515,000) gold medal bonus. In comparison with the US, Schooling's bonus is over 30 times larger than the US$25,000 offered to American athletes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2016, with the headline 'A friendship that captured Olympic spirit'. Print Edition | Subscribe