Comments about teaching Malaysia 'a thing or two' taken out of context, says Joseph Schooling

Joseph Schooling prepares to compete in the men's 100m Butterfly final during the 17th FINA Swimming World Championships.
Joseph Schooling prepares to compete in the men's 100m Butterfly final during the 17th FINA Swimming World Championships.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - Olympic champion Joseph Schooling has clarified that comments he made a week ago were taken out of context, after they earned the ire of observers and netizens.

The 22-year-old, upon returning to Singapore from the World Championships in Budapest, where he won a bronze medal in the 100m butterfly, had appeared to suggest he was looking forward to teaching Causeway rivals Malaysia "a thing or two" at the SEA Games later this month.

What the swimmer had actually meant, he said on Tuesday morning at the Singapore Sports Hub, was that he was looking forward to helping some of his younger and more inexperienced team-mates on the swim squad get their feet wet at the biennial SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Fresh off a long flight from Hungary then, Schooling was quoted as saying: "We have a chance to do something special at the SEA Games; 2015 was something special for us, I think it will be nice to go to Malaysia's backyard and teach them a thing or two."

The comments were picked up by Malaysian media and also irked observers, among them netizens who thought Singapore's most recognisable sportsman should learn humility.

He said in response on Tuesday: "I think it was taken out of context.

"I was speaking about how we have a younger team, and I threw in Malaysia somehow - must've been the 17 hours' of jet lag - and then I said I can't wait to go into their backyard and teach them a lesson or two.

"Which made it sound like I was criticising Malaysia, I was actually talking about our younger kids going there and teaching (our) rookies a thing or two about the launch pad that we have in the SEA Games to bigger and better meets in the future."

Schooling won nine gold medals at the last Games, when it was held on home soil. He is taking part in six events this time, including the 50m and 100m fly.