Commentary

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

Joseph Schooling did not advance to the semi-finals after he clocked 53.12 seconds to finish last in his butterfly heats.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Joseph Schooling in the men’s 100m butterfly heats at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 29, 2021.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Joseph Schooling in the men’s 100m butterfly heats at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 29, 2021.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

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.

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