Joseph Schooling admits to taking cannabis: A look back at his journey from kid to swim king

The Straits Times has been covering Joseph Schooling's career since he was a young promising swimmer. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - In 2016, swimmer Joseph Schooling made history when he won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal. 

On Tuesday (Aug 30), he made headlines again, for admitting to taking cannabis while on leave from doing national service to take part in the SEA Games in Vietnam in May this year. 

The Straits Times has been covering his career since he was a young promising swimmer. Here's a look back at his journey.

The Champion’s Challenge: A closer look at Joseph Schooling’s Olympic gold-medal swim

A look back at Schooling's history-making swim at Rio 2016 and the challenges ahead at the Tokyo Olympics.

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'Nobody is happy to lose, but I'm proud of Jo' - Phelps

At the end of 50.39 seconds that made history, Joseph Schooling slapped the water in elation, and turned to hug his idol, swimming legend Michael Phelps.

Chad le Clos of South Africa, also turned to pat Schooling's back and ruffle his hair.

Schooling, 21, beat three swimming greats to clinch Singapore's first gold medal and an Olympic record in the 100m butterfly final on Saturday (Aug 13) morning.

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Lunch With Sumiko: May Schooling, Singapore's most famous mum

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The Straits Times Executive Editor Sumiko Tan has lunch with May Schooling, mother of Olympic swimmer Joseph Schooling.

May Schooling takes some persuading to say yes to this interview.

"Joseph is the one you want," protests the mother of Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist. "I'm just his mother. What is there to write?" Or, she suggests, why don't I interview her husband Colin instead?

No, I say, readers are interested in the woman behind the swimming champion.

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Colin Schooling, who died aged 73, was funny, generous and fiercely loved his son

Colin Schooling couldn't have gone, it's not possible. He had too much life in him, too many things yet to say, too many golf shots still to hit, too many hugs left to give his son.

Colin, 73, always brought a smile to a room and his opinions to lunch. I had a deep affection for him because he possessed a great generosity of spirit and was a joy to debate with. He didn't hold back, would say his piece, disagree with your position and then pay your bill at Samy's.

He had a theory on everything, laughed loudly and had his own colourful dictionary of swearing. He was a man to hang out with. In this profession we meet parents all the time and he was easily one of my favourites. I never left a meeting without learning something. A race timing or a joke.

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Joseph Schooling was done, and then he changed his mind about retiring

For a brief few hours this year, Joseph Schooling decided he was done with swimming and ready to hang up his swim trunks and goggles.

This was in the period after his meek showing at the Tokyo Olympics last August and his next race seven months later at the Singapore National Age Group Championships (SNAG).

"I actually retired for a few hours on a given day before the SNAG," he revealed in an interview with The Straits Times on Saturday (April 23) afternoon.

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Olympics: Swimmer Joseph Schooling smarting after poor show, but promises there's 'much more left in the tank'

"Damn, like come on, that sucks."

It is the day after Joseph Schooling's swim, the swim he has not watched a recording of and does not plan to, the swim whose slow time left him with that disapproving reaction.

The Singaporean is back at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, a loose-limbed young man clad in red T-shirt, dark grey shorts and humility. His chance of a second gold has temporarily passed and though winning and losing is like breathing to him the defeat is still raw.

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Olympics: Let's not forget the ride Joseph Schooling took us on

In the mixed zone in Tokyo he stood, swim cap in hand, heart rate fast, his timing too slow. In Rio 2016 he'd been the fastest in the 100m butterfly heats, here he was 44th. It wasn't a perfect ending - if indeed it is an end - but then this isn't a Disney movie. This is sport - rugged, competitive, unforgiving - and he made no excuses. He knows clocks don't lie.

Joseph Schooling leaned on the barricade and ducked no question. Rio felt many continents away. He said he lacked "feel" and called his swim "flat". Perhaps even he is bewildered by where speed has gone. He was fast once, wasn't he? It just feels like a second ago.

A 100m is a pithy distance but a life-changing one. To be there in Rio was joyous but this seemed a mild sort of mourning. From Friday he will be a former Olympic champion. It will sting and it should.

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Schooling calls for 'national dialogue' on expectations of national athletes serving NS

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Schooling's medal haul at the biennial meet has been the lowest - after winning four golds and two silvers at the 2019 edition, six golds in 2017, nine golds in 2015, six golds in 2013 and 2-1-1 on his debut in 2011.

Swimmer Joseph Schooling on Wednesday (May 18) called for a "national dialogue" on national service (NS), highlighting the need to manage the expectations of athletes who are undergoing NS.

The 26-year-old, who enlisted in January, was speaking to media at the My Dinh Water Sports Palace in Hanoi on Wednesday, a day after he wrapped up his SEA Games campaign with two golds and a bronze.

This was his lowest haul at the biennial meet - though he competed in only four events - after winning four golds and two silvers at the 2019 edition, six golds in 2017, nine golds in 2015, six golds in 2013 and 2-1-1 on his debut in 2011.

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