Fans queue to meet Olympic hero Joseph Schooling

Six-year-old Jayden Kok getting his copy of a book on Olympic champion Joseph Schooling back after the star signed it at the Singapore Press Holdings News Centre yesterday. The 21-year-old swim star autographed copies of two books published by Strait
Six-year-old Jayden Kok getting his copy of a book on Olympic champion Joseph Schooling back after the star signed it at the Singapore Press Holdings News Centre yesterday. The 21-year-old swim star autographed copies of two books published by Straits Times Press - Schooling Joseph and children's book From Kid To King. Both books, written by current and former Straits Times sports journalists, were authorised biographies. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Fans of the swim star queueing to buy two authorised biographies, From Kid To King and Schooling Joseph, at the SPH News Centre yesterday. Olympic champion Joseph Schooling (in red) with ST news editor Marc Lim, who wrote From Kid To King, at the SPH
Olympic champion Joseph Schooling (in red) with ST news editor Marc Lim, who wrote From Kid To King, at the SPH News Centre auditorium yesterday, where Schooling read the book to about 20 children who are beneficiaries of The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Fans of the swim star queueing to buy two authorised biographies, From Kid To King and Schooling Joseph, at the SPH News Centre yesterday. Olympic champion Joseph Schooling (in red) with ST news editor Marc Lim, who wrote From Kid To King, at the SPH
Fans of the swim star queueing to buy two authorised biographies, From Kid To King and Schooling Joseph, at the SPH News Centre yesterday. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Swim star signs biographies published by ST Press; book sales raise $28k for School Pocket Money Fund

Three months after Olympic champion Joseph Schooling's historic gold-medal win in Rio de Janeiro, details of the race remain fresh in five-year-old Alonzo Lim's mind.

His father Agostino Lim said: "He watches the race almost every time he goes on YouTube. He can even recite the commentary."

Alonzo was one of the first 50 buyers who got his copy of From Kid To King autographed by the swim star during a book-signing session at the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) News Centre yesterday.

Schooling signed copies of two books published by Straits Times Press - From Kid To King and Schooling Joseph - to help raise funds for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF).

Both books are authorised biographies written by current and former ST sports journalists.

 
 

Asked what he said to Schooling at the book signing, Alonzo replied: "I said, 'Hey Jo, you inspired me to be a champion like you'."

Nine-year-old Peh Jia Xuan, who was the first in line at yesterday's book signing, was also inspired by the Olympic gold medallist. In the activity page at the end of From Kid To King, where children can write or draw their big dreams, the Singapore Chinese Girls' School pupil drew a medal, labelled Olympic gold, with the words "Gymnastics and/or swimming" written below.

She had dashed through a horde of people to see Schooling as he made his way into the News Centre auditorium, and was rewarded with a handshake from the champion.

She said: "I was excited when he shook my hand. His hand was cold.

"I will show the book to my friends, and maybe take it around with me - except to recess."

A line had started to form about 20 minutes before the books went on sale at noon yesterday, and soon swelled to about 150 inside the News Centre auditorium.

Addressing the crowd, Schooling said: "I went to Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) and I could remember from a long time ago that some of my classmates, they didn't have enough money to eat during recess.

"That really struck me, and this is important to me. I feel obligated, it is my duty to give back to society and help the young kids.

"Eating is the most important thing, and everyone should have enough to eat, everyone should be comfortable. It is important we give back to the kids and ensure that they are taken care of and have good meals to eat."

More than $28,000 was raised for the STSPMF from the sale of both books. This includes 20 per cent of the proceeds from yesterday's sales.

Schooling, 21, read From Kid To King to about 20 children who are beneficiaries of the STSPMF and chatted with them.

Said Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of SPH's English/ Malay/Tamil Media Group and editor of The Straits Times: "Joseph has shown us the power of having big dreams, just as he dreamt one day he would be like his hero Michael Phelps on that Olympic rostrum.

"Many people can have big dreams, but he showed he had the grit, determination and perseverance to make that dream come true.

"But most of all, even after he had his dream come true, he remains humble. He remembers the people who have helped and given to him, and remembers the need to give back to others as well."

Yesterday, Schooling was conferred an honorary membership and recognised as a swimming ambassador of the Singapore Island Country Club. He was also named Visitor of the Eurasian Community House by the Eurasian Association last night.

Today, he will take part in a Singapore Swimming Association golf fund-raiser at the Tanah Merah Country Club.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2016, with the headline 'Fans queue to meet Olympic hero Schooling'. Print Edition | Subscribe