Swimming: Schoolings in no hurry to pick next course of action

Joseph Schooling and his parents, Colin and May, are facing a flurry of representation offers after his Olympic gold win.
Joseph Schooling and his parents, Colin and May, are facing a flurry of representation offers after his Olympic gold win.BH FILE PHOTO

Joseph Schooling might be in for more schooling once he completes his degree at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) in two years' time.

The 21-year-old, who began his junior year this week, is exploring the idea of a post-graduate degree, revealed his mother, May, at a meet-the-media session yesterday.

Some media had reported that he had declared an intention to swim professionally after completing his studies at UT, where he trains with renowned coach Eddie Reese. But May, 60, told The Straits Times: "He hopes to train with Eddie leading up to (the Olympics in) 2020.

"But as for turning pro, it's a big question mark."

What is less of a question is what May and her husband Colin hope for their son.

As speedily as Schooling won the 100m butterfly at the Olympics nearly two weeks ago, a line of talent management agencies has just as quickly formed at their door.

WAY OF THE WARRIOR

To be a complete samurai, apart from the martial arts, you also have to aspire towards doing something like writing poems, calligraphy or painting - that is a complete human being. That is what we want for Joseph.

COLIN SCHOOLING, Joseph's dad, on his hopes for his son.

MASTER OF ALL

I pushed for studies, but I'm not the kind of parent who said, 'You must get A'. I wanted a well-rounded kid, and we have to balance both studies and sports.

MAY SCHOOLING, Joseph's mum.

The Schoolings have received multiple offers of representation from local and international agencies.

They include global giants IMG and Octagon, who boast an honour roll of star athletes such as top men's tennis player Novak Djokovic, Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry and swim legend Michael Phelps, the man their son beat to Olympic gold.

But they made it clear that they are in no hurry to sign off on a decision about who manages their son, with Colin reiterating that the most important consideration lies in making sure "the person who handles Joseph has a heart".

He added: "Have a heart meaning not just throw him to the wolves, but also guide him and look after him, and just treasure him."

It was the same thing the 68-year-old had asked of Sergio Lopez, the then-head swimming coach and aquatics director at the Bolles School, before deciding to send his only child to the Florida-based school in 2009.

Lopez, who just left his post as Singapore's national swimming head coach, told the media last week: "He told me the most important thing is that Joseph needs to be a gentleman and a scholar."

May added: "Everyone has been kind enough to offer their advice, but we are viewing all the options before we decide what to do."

For now, what the couple are sure of, however, is that their son must complete his education.

Said Colin: "I just sent Joseph a text saying, 'No matter what it is, whoever wants to market you, I only ask that you promise me you will graduate.'"

Not that they should have much to worry about Joseph, an economics major with a Grade Point Average of 3.75 out of 4.

Colin explained that Joseph's swimming ambition and good results in academia had always been pursued on the latter's own accord.

"It's all about Joseph, not what we want. We aspire that he goes in the right direction and we will guide him," he said.

 

"It's not him living our dream; our dream is for him to be happy."

While studies had "always been a concern" for May, what was more important was that her son grew up to be a well-rounded person.

She said: "I pushed for studies, but I'm not the kind of parent who said, 'You must get A'.

"I wanted a well-rounded kid, and we have to balance both studies and sports."

Colin agreed, citing the example of bushido, the traditional samurai code of honour. The code holds that, apart from values like loyalty and compassion, an appreciation and respect of life is also essential for adding balance to the character of samurai.

He added: "To be a complete samurai, apart from the martial arts, you also have to aspire towards doing something like writing poems, calligraphy or painting - that is a complete human being.

"That is what we want for Joseph."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2016, with the headline 'Schoolings in no hurry to pick next course of action'. Print Edition | Subscribe