It took just 50.39 seconds for Joseph Schooling (photo) to make history at Rio de Janeiro on Aug 13 last year, blazing through the pool to clinch Singapore's first Olympic gold and set a new Games record.
His feat in the 100m butterfly event united the country in jubilant pride, made headlines around the world and reaffirmed Singapore's belief that small countries can make a huge impact.
But it took nearly two decades of hard work from the 21-year-old and his parents, Colin and May Schooling, to make that achievement in Rio possible.
The family spent more than $1 million in all, some of it borrowed, for Joseph's education and training. They endured years apart as Joseph knuckled down in the United States to qualify for the Olympics.
The couple lobbied for Joseph's national service deferment so that he could concentrate on getting to Rio. It was an extraordinary labour of love by two ordinary parents for their only child. And, in turn, they inspired a pragmatic nation to reach for unimaginable dreams. For the family's dedication and sacrifice in chasing - and attaining - the seemingly impossible dream of an Olympic gold for Singapore, they were given The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award yesterday.