ST’s team in Rio: My favourite final moment

The anticipation

Rafael Nadal is in front of me playing, the crowd at the Olympic Tennis Centre is electric, the quarter-final match is compelling.

But I cannot stop thinking about Joseph Schooling.

It is hours before his 100m butterfly final and I'm a nervous wreck.

Could he really beat Michael Phelps and win the damn thing?

Before the Rio Olympics, we would have traded a kidney for a medal. Now, hours before the final, I'm imagining the impossible.

As an Australian colleague reminds me, we journalists are greedy.

Yes, Schooling is the fastest qualifier, has looked calm all week, is younger and fresher than his main rivals. But this is the Olympics where pressure is at its most suffocating.

Could he really block everything out and swim the race of his life?

It is 6pm and Schooling's race is still another four hours away but I'm rushing through dinner. I don't want to be late and I want a good view of history.

I've even started writing some of the story for the paper but deliberately left out the colour of the medal. I don't want to jinx anything.

He's just 21. How in the world does he deal with all this stress?

One magnificent and fearless swim later, no more questions are required.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 14, 2016, with the headline 'The anticipation'. Print Edition | Subscribe