Incheon – Talk of Joseph Schooling being a “foreign talent” still baffles the swimmer and his parents Colin and May.
Tell that to Colin and he will quickly rebut in Malay: “Nama saya Colin Schooling. Anak berna Singapura.” (“My name is Colin Schooling, true son of Singapore.”)
The 66-year-old businessman was born in Singapore and is fluent in English, Malay and Hokkien.
May, 59, a Chinese who hails from Ipoh in Malaysia, is a Singapore permanent resident and has lived here for over 30 years.
Said Colin: “My grandfather was an officer in the British army. He came from England and married a local Portuguese-Eurasian.
“But I was born here, so was my father. I see these comments many times on Internet forums. They say Joseph’s father is an ang moh.
“I say, don’t forget Eurasians are part of the Singapore population.
“The most important thing is we know who we are and what we are.”
Joseph – his only child – was also born in Singapore.
The former Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student left for the United States five years ago at 14 to pursue his dream of winning a medal at the 2016 Olympics.
Said Joseph: “It used to bother me. I see it sometimes on Facebook. I used to get p****d but now I ignore them.
“They are just keyboard warriors so I just tune it out.
“I’m just glad to get the opportunity to do my country proud,” added the swimmer who bagged one gold, one silver and one bronze in the Incheon Asiad.
Indeed, other than speaking with an American accent, an inevitable by-product of spending five years in the States, there is little to suggest that Joseph is not Singaporean.
And after hanging out with his team-mates for a few days in Incheon, bits of Singlish crept into his conversations.
“Hurry up, lah,” he told Teo Zhen Ren, who had asked Joseph to take a picture of him in the Munhak Park Tae Hwan Aquatics Centre last Friday after the swimming meet ended.
As for the Schooling name, Colin said it originated from the Mecklenburg region in Germany and was originally spelled Schilling.
He had traced his lineage back to 1172 and said: “My great-great-grandparents were artisans to the British royal family.
“And after the First World War, due to the anti-German sentiment in England, they changed it to Schooling, the same way Battenberg became Mountbatten.”
As for pronunciation, most people say “Schooling” as you would describe someone who is attending school, although some do call them “Shoo-ling”.
Said Colin: “It’s up to the person who addresses us but we’re not too bothered.”
Just do not call them ang moh.