SEA Games: Still time to get Joseph Schooling 'trim and fit'

Head coach Tan says Olympic champ needs to raise fitness; new boy Chua wins 200m free

Despite looking heavier than usual at the SEA Games, Joseph Schooling managed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics to defend his title next year. Nevertheless, national training centre head coach Gary Tan is pleased with his 100m fly gold-winning perfor
Despite looking heavier than usual at the SEA Games, Joseph Schooling managed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics to defend his title next year. Nevertheless, national training centre head coach Gary Tan is pleased with his 100m fly gold-winning performance, saying: "That's the fight that we've been missing for a while." PHOTO: SNOC
Despite looking heavier than usual at the SEA Games, Joseph Schooling managed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics to defend his title next year. Nevertheless, national training centre head coach Gary Tan is pleased with his 100m fly gold-winning perfor
Darren Chua on his way to a surprise victory over Malaysian defending champion Welson Sim in the 200m free last night.PHOTO: SNOC

The talk of the town this week has been Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling, but it is not only his sensational comeback victory in the men's 100m butterfly on Friday that is setting social media abuzz.

Looking heftier than the trim 1.84m, 74kg star from the 2016 Rio Olympics, his appearances at these SEA Games have sparked comments about his weight.

The much-discussed topic was addressed by national training centre head coach Gary Tan after it was raised by a journalist during a media scrum yesterday.

Tan acknowledged that Schooling needed to make adjustments to up his fitness level, saying: "There is some recognition of things that he needs to change in the lifestyle part of it, especially getting a bit more trim and getting him to work towards getting fitter as well.

"The team's in place to get him there and the first thing was to get him to qualify for the Olympics. "

"Kudos to him, even at this size, he did a great job," joked Tan. "That's the fight that we've been missing for a while.

"We are seven months out of the Olympics, we've got time to get him trim and fit and I know he's ready to make those big changes."

Schooling, 24, had earned his ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Games on Friday after clocking 51.84sec to claim his fourth consecutive 100m fly title. He will compete in the 100m freestyle today and the men's 4x100m medley relay tomorrow.

With the Olympic champion not in action yesterday, it was left to his younger teammates to shine at the New Clark City Aquatic Centre.

Games debutant Darren Chua, 21, was first to step on top of the podium, pipping hot favourite Welson Sim of Malaysia, the winner on home soil two years ago, to the 200m free gold in a personal best of 1min 48.26sec.

Chua was delighted to win his first individual gold of the Games, saying: "I was pretty nervous getting into this race and it's one of the hardest races that I've ever swum. I was expecting a podium finish but it didn't matter whether I got first, second or third."

Team veteran Quah Ting Wen, 26, was happy to see young swimmers like Chua, Christie Chue and Gan Ching Hwee perform well.

 
 
 
 

"This meet's just been really good, and I'm super happy for everyone on the team," said the oldest Quah sibling, who won the women's 50m fly gold yesterday in a meet record of 26.50sec.

"Darren's freestyle was right before my 50m fly and, when I saw his name come up, it got me so pumped up because it's his first SEA Games and the boys at home, him and Jonathan (Tan), are training really hard."

While Ting Wen had a good outing in the pool yesterday, it was not the case for younger brother Zheng Wen. Gunning for a clean sweep of all three backstroke events after earlier clinching the 100m and 200m titles, the 22-year-old was left to rue a "technical error" that cost him a gold in the 50m backstroke.

He said: "I slipped on the start. I'm disappointed and I know I could have been a lot faster and it really sucks. But there's nothing I can do now but try to learn from it and be better prepared for the medley relay and my last individual event, the 200m fly, on the last day."

The women's 4x100m free team of Ting Wen, younger sister Quah Jing Wen, Cherlyn Yeoh and Amanda Lim wrapped up the day's events with a third gold for Singapore as they stormed home in a meet record of 3:40.92 way ahead of the Philippines (3:47.05) and Thailand (3:48.30). 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 08, 2019, with the headline 'Still time to get Jo 'trim and fit''. Subscribe