ST’s team in Rio: My favourite final moment

The head-on shot

Hand on heart after the greatest swim in his life, new Olympic 100m fly champion Joseph Schooling savours a Majulah moment at the medal ceremony. His calm demeanour belies his pride and honour after his stupendous achievement.
Hand on heart after the greatest swim in his life, new Olympic 100m fly champion Joseph Schooling savours a Majulah moment at the medal ceremony. His calm demeanour belies his pride and honour after his stupendous achievement.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The best moment of the night happened right under my nose. I was just right there, witnessing the turn that sealed the gold and getting splashed by it.

The anticipation leading up to the start of the race was nerve racking. I had queued four hours to ensure I got a good spot in the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.

As Joseph Schooling was in the final with a chance of winning a medal, the photo manager allowed me to be in a pool position, which is considered an exclusive area usually reserved for wire agencies and big publications. Prior to the final, I was always situated along the length of the pool.

As the finalists dived in, there I was staring down the lane at the 50m mark of Lane 4, with my big telephoto lens and camera. I wanted to get the intensity of Schooling as he headed towards me straight on.

Everything happened within seconds. I don't even remember breathing, just trying to steady my hands as I timed the shots when he surfaced from the water.

As he led the pack, hit the wall and turned, I was near enough to feel the water splash.

It was a race that carried the hopes of a nation. When he touched the wall first on the other side, the stadium erupted. History had been written and I got the honour of capturing and feeling a small part of it.

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