He won Singapore's first Commonwealth Games swimming medal in 2014 with a silver in the 100m butterfly, but Olympic champion Joseph Schooling will not attempt to go one better at this year's Games.
His decision, The Straits Times understands, is due to the tight scheduling between the March 21-24 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) swimming championships and the April 4-15 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia.
Besides Schooling, the US-based siblings Quah Zheng Wen and Jing Wen will also skip the Games.
The 22-year-old Schooling, who is on scholarship at the University of Texas (UT) and will be competing in his last NCAA competition this year before turning professional, has opted to focus on the four-day meet in Minneapolis.
There, the UT senior will aim to regain the 100-yard fly crown from Caeleb Dressel of the University of Florida. Dressel, 21, won seven golds at last year's World Championships in Budapest and is seen as Schooling's biggest rival in the fly.
Swimmers usually require about three weeks to taper for a major competition (with most doing so for only two big meets a year). Furthermore, the NCAA is a short-course meet (held in 25-yard pools) while the Commonwealth Games is over the long-course (50m) format.
In a statement sent by the Singapore Swimming Association yesterday, Schooling said: "This will allow me to concentrate fully on the Asian Games and ensure that I put in my best performances for Singapore in Jakarta."
ASIAD THE TARGET
This will allow me to concentrate fully on the Asian Games and ensure that I put in my best performances for Singapore in Jakarta.
JOSEPH SCHOOLING, citing the tight scheduling between the NCAA championships and the Commonwealth Games for his decision to skip the latter.
Schooling, who was named on Thursday as the Big 12 Conferencence's Men's Swimmer of the Week for sweeping the butterfly events and provided a key butterfly leg to help Texas to victory in the 200-yard medley relay, has set a target of winning three gold medals at the Aug 18-Sept 2 Asiad in Indonesia.
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Schooling finished second in the 100m fly in a then-national record of 51.69 seconds. That same year at the Asiad in Incheon, South Korea, he won the 100m fly title in a Games record of 51.76sec and added a silver (50m fly) and bronze (200m fly).
Those medals, coupled with Tao Li's one silver and bronze and the men's 4x200m freestyle relay bronze, saw Singapore finish fourth behind China, Japan and Kazakhstan in the standings.
National head coach and performance director Stephan Widmer said he was supportive of the decision not to nominate the three swimmers for the Commonwealth Games. In 2010, butterfly specialist Tao Li also withdrew from the Commonwealth Games to focus on the Asian Games.
"This decision will ultimately benefit Singapore, as we look to achieve our aims of challenging for medals in Jakarta, and closing the gap on the rest of Asia," he added.
"To be competitive with the stronger Asian nations, we need these three high-performers to be at their absolute peak.
"That's crucial for Singapore to be in team relay medal contention at these Games."
Zheng Wen, 21, is finishing his sophomore year at the University of California. He said: "Continuing my training in the US and then going straight into Asian Games, will enable me to reach my peak during the Games, and I am looking forward to helping Singapore maximise our medal chances."
His younger sister Jing Wen, 17, a freshman at Texas A&M, added: "Having no disruptions to my training will allow me to have the continuity needed to achieve my optimal performance at the Asian Games."