All systems go for Schooling and Quah

Singapore's Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen ahead of the  Rio 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, on Aug 4, 2016.
Singapore's Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, on Aug 4, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Schooling's parents also in Budapest to watch him compete in World Championships

Life at the top can often be lonely but those are the sacrifices champions often have to make in the pursuit of greatness.

When Joseph Schooling clinched a bronze medal at the 2015 swimming World Championships in Kazan, his parents Colin and May were unable to make it to Russia. At last year's Rio Olympics where the Singaporean won the 100m butterfly gold, he shared the moment with his mother while his dad watched from the home of Teo Zhen Ren, Joseph's friend and a fellow national swimmer.

However, things will be different at next week's World Championships in Budapest, with all three Schoolings able to reunite as Joseph bids to make history by becoming the first Singaporean to be a world swimming champion.

Schooling, who left Singapore for the United States as a 14-year-old in 2009 in the hopes of becoming a world-class swimmer, has set his sights on the 50m and 100m fly world titles, as well as the world record in the longer event.

He will also compete in the 200m fly and 100m freestyle.

He said yesterday: "I managed to catch up with mum and dad a couple of days ago, and I am really excited that both of them are here in Budapest supporting me.

"It means a lot to me."

He and team-mate Quah Zheng Wen, together with the rest of Singapore's support staff, had arrived in Hungary on Thursday ahead of the swimming competition, which begins tomorrow with Schooling involved in the 50m fly heats.

Prior to this, they were in Opatija, Croatia, for a week-long training camp and Quah, 21, described the final tune-up as ideal.

His first event is the 100m backstroke on Monday, followed by the 50m and 200m back. He will also compete in the 100m and 200m fly.

Quah, who reached the 100m and 200m fly semi-finals in Rio: "All the training and preparations are done and I am ready to compete. I am where I need to be at, so hoping that that this will turn out to be a great championships for me."

Sonya Porter, Singapore Swimming Association's technical director, was pleased with the work done by both swimmers and said it was all systems go for the pair as they gear up for a successful outing.

She added: "We worked on a couple of things with Jo and Zheng but most importantly, we managed to get the boys to be acclimatised to the conditions quickly. They are in great condition and ready to go."

Unlike his two previous major international meets - the 2015 World Championships and the Rio Games - Schooling walks into the 12,000-seat Danube Arena with a target on his back and a reputation to live up to, after beating American legend Michael Phelps in Brazil.

He did so by setting a new Olympic record at 50.39sec, the fastest time in a textile suit and fifth fastest when taking into account timings in the supersuit era.

Earlier this month, he also managed the year's second-fastest time (50.96sec). American Caeleb Dressel posted the season's best 100m fly of 50.87sec last month.

Schooling, an undergraduate at the University of Texas, said: "I am feeling good. It took me about a day or so to get used to the weather and the time difference, coming from Texas. The team has done a great job in getting me ready and I look forward to a good start to the championships."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2017, with the headline 'All systems go for Jo and Quah'. Print Edition | Subscribe