Joseph Schooling's Malaysian aunt 'bursting with joy' over Olympian nephew's victory

Music teacher Yim Kam Ling holding up pictures of her nephew Joseph Schooling, who won Singapore's first ever gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games on Saturday (Aug 13).
Music teacher Yim Kam Ling holding up pictures of her nephew Joseph Schooling, who won Singapore's first ever gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games on Saturday (Aug 13). PHOTO: MALAY MAIL
A younger Joseph Schooling in 2009 with his parents.
A younger Joseph Schooling in 2009 with his parents. PHOTO: ST FILE

IPOH - The euphoria over Olympic champion Joseph Schooling's victory on Saturday has not just been felt in Singapore.

Up north, some 560km away, his aunt who lives in the Malaysian city of Ipoh has also been overjoyed by Schooling's win in the 100m butterfly that helped secure Singapore's first Olympic gold.

Since his victory, 58-year-old music teacher Yim Kam Ling's phone has been buzzing with friends and family sharing their joy for her nephew.

"I'm the happiest aunt in the world," Ms Yim, who is Schooling's maternal aunt, told Malaysia's Malay Mail Online news website. "My phone has been buzzing with friends and family sending their love and support for my nephew the whole morning," the paper reported on Sunday (Aug 14).

Although she was unable to catch the action live as she was working, she said she was ecstatic over the victory.

"My heart is bursting with joy. I can only imagine how his parents feel," she said.


Ms Yim Kam Ling shows a photo of her nephew, Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling, on her phone. PHOTO: MALAY MAIL

Schooling's mother May, 61, hails from Ipoh in Malaysia and is a Singapore permanent resident. She has lived in Singapore for over 30 years.

Ms Yim said his 86-year-old grandmother Yeoh Soon Poh had also watched him in the historic race live on television, when he defeated US American swimming legend Michael Phelps.

"I called her to tell her about the good news but she said that she had seen the race live on television."

As a child, Schooling would take trips down to Ipoh on long breaks with his parents. But even on holiday, he never missed a swim.

"He would swim at the Ipoh Royal Gold Club, the family's pool and at Ipoh City Council swimming complex. He loved swimming when he was a child. He basically lived in the pool," Ms Yim told Malay Mail Online.

"To him, a day without swimming would be considered strange," said Ms Yim, who last met him at the Southeast Asian Games (SEA) Games in Singapore last year.

Schooling's talent and discipline showed from a very young age, she said.

"I have never seen a boy that age who was so focused and disciplined. Even when he was here on holiday, he would go swimming as early as 5am."

She said Schooling's family would try their best to support him at his competitions. Although the family was not able to be in Rio to cheer him on, she said "we were with him in spirit".

She is hoping to be able to catch the gold-medallist in action next at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Schooling's historic Olympic triumph, she said, should silence his critics - some of whom have called for him to return to Singapore to complete his National Service.

"He was the first Singaporean athlete to receive a deferment because he was training for the Olympics, and some people wanted him to go back. I am so glad that he proved them wrong," she said.

As for what she would say to her nephew, now that he has achieved his goal: "I would tell him to go on and chase after his passion. Go Joe go!"