Asian Games: Joseph Schooling claims second butterfly gold by a whisker

Nowhere near his best but Schooling still wins 50m fly, his fourth medal in Jakarta

Every sport in every nation needs a symbol of possibility, a breakthrough champion, a dream-maker and, in Singapore and swimming, that is Joseph Schooling. In most Games he adds to the medal tally, builds his own belief and inspires parts of the dressing room.

But, to do all that, he has to keep winning and keep proving that China and Japan can hog the medals but the two countries cannot have them all.

Yesterday at the Asian Games in Jakarta, the 23-year-old won his second gold at this meet in the 50m butterfly by 0.04 of a second.

Describing the win as a huge relief, Schooling acknowledged his time "wasn't too great", but added: "It's a race, the most important thing is to try to get your hand on the wall first and it was very close, I didn't know who won till the end.

"I had to look up on the board and I almost couldn't believe it actually."

He touched the wall in 23.61sec, just ahead of China's Wang Peng (23.65) while Adilbek Mussin (23.73) of Kazakhstan was third.


ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SWIMMINGLY WELL

We've come a long way since Incheon, it's nice to see Singapore swimming is going in the right direction. I'm just trying to do as best for my country as I can.

JOSEPH SCHOOLING, with his second gold, the 50m butterfly.

Despite the victory, it was a far cry from his 22.93 Asian record.

Schooling, who won silver in this event four years ago at the previous Asiad, added: "All I was thinking about was to try to get my hips up and down as fast as I could, try not to spin, try not to slip too much and that's all I had on my mind... (as for) the rest, you can only hope for the best."

He had retained his 100m fly title the night before, and also has two bronze medals in the men's 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays.

Revealing that the 100m freestyle is an event he is keen on swimming as he seeks to expand his repertoire, he said: "It's always nice to swim something else, you can't just stay with one stroke.

"I don't know how I'd do right now, I'm not really thinking about it right now. I'm just thinking about tomorrow."

He will race in the men's 4x100m medley relay today on the last day of the swimming competition.

Another podium finish would give him five medals, tying the most by a male Singapore athlete at a single Asiad alongside fellow swimmers Neo Chwee Kok (1951).

With Roanne Ho's silver in the 50m breaststroke and a bronze through the women's 4x100m medley relay team, the Republic have captured six medals so far at the Gelora Bung Karno Aquatic Centre.

At the 2014 Incheon edition, Singapore won one gold, two silvers and three bronzes.

Said Schooling: "We've come a long way since Incheon. It's nice to see that Singapore swimming is going in the right direction.

"I'm just trying to do as best for my country as I can. It's awesome that I could win the first gold medal yesterday and add another gold today.

"That's the most important thing, stepping up for your country... you have a lot more satisfaction whenever you race for something bigger than yourself, so I'm very satisfied with these last two days and I'm very excited for tomorrow."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2018, with the headline 'Jo's gold by a whisker'. Subscribe