RIO DE JANEIRO - Newly-crowned Olympic champion Joseph Schooling said he was looking forward to coming home so he could "celebrate this moment with everyone in Singapore".
"This moment is really important not only for myself, but for everyone in Singapore. I am looking forward to that," he told reporters at the airport before catching his flight home.
The 21-year-old swimmer won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal, and also set an Olympic-record time of 50.39sec in the 100m butterfly final.
He is scheduled to touch down at Changi Airport at 5.30am on Monday (Aug 15) on Singapore Airlines flight SQ67.
Speaking to Editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang aboard the flight, Schooling said,"Just want to be home, eat chye tow kueh (fried carrot cake)."
The pilot of the flight announced to passengers that Schooling and his mother May are on board and congratulated the Olympic champion on his gold medal win.
Schooling is expected to be present in Parliament which sits on Monday afternoon. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post that Parliament would move a motion to congratulate Schooling on his gold medal win, and to express support for Singapore athletes competing in Rio.
Schooling, who managed to squeeze in only two hours of sleep after the race on Friday, said he was tired but very excited about coming home.
"I am going back so I can celebrate this moment with everyone in Singapore, not just my Dad, my Mum, my friends but everyone who supported me through the years and watched me grow," he said.
But even as he celebrates his win, Schooling has his sight set on bigger goals.
"It's nice to be an Olympic champion and a record holder but this can't be my end point. I need to strive for more," he added.
Looking back on his road to Rio, he said: "It has been a crazy ride the last few days and weeks leading up to this. I couldn't have scripted it better. I couldn't have dreamt of this moment."