Asiad: Joseph primed for Incheon

Asiad: Joseph primed for Incheon
At the Incheon Asian Games, Schooling became the first male Singapore swimmer to win Asian Games gold since 1982 when he won the men's 100 metres butterfly.

When Joseph Schooling clinched Singapore's first-ever swimming medal - a silver - at the Commonwealth Games last month, he sent ripples across the region.

But if his training programme is anything to go by, Joseph, who clinched a silver in the 100m butterfly in Scotland, could make an even bigger splash at next month's Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

According to Joseph's father Colin, the butterfly specialist is expected to hit top form at the Asiad.

Said Colin: "The Asian Games has always been the target. You cannot peak many times in a year, maximum two.

"Joseph, his coaches and I were always in discussion. We targeted the Asian Games but, after that, we decided it would be be good for Joseph to go for the Commonwealth Games, and test himself against countries like Australia, South Africa and England.

"Now, he knows where he stands compared to those countries. And it's time for him to compete against the top Asian countries like China and Japan."

Joseph, who began his freshman year at Texas University last Wednesday, has not let up since his success in Glasgow.

With a personal best of 23.43sec in the 50m fly and 51.69sec in the 100m fly, both of which would have seen him finish first at the 2010 Asian Games, the former Bolles School student has a good shot at winning in Incheon and has been hard at training since the Commonwealth Games.

Both his times, clocked at the Commonwealth Games, are the fastest in Asia this year.

Under Eddie Reese, head coach of the United States' 2008 Olympics squad, at Texas, the 1.84m swimmer has been sweating it out to a customised training programme, including pumping iron in the gym at least one hour a day.

Besides Joseph, two-time Asian Games gold medallist Tao Li could also be making waves at the quadrennial meet.

The 24-year-old has been training under Joseph's former coach Sergio Lopez at the Bolles School in Florida since April. She has set her sights on cracking the 25sec barrier and bagging a hat-trick of golds in the 50m fly next month.

However, Singapore Swimming Association president Lee Kok Choy was coy about the swim team's medal expectations ahead of the Asiad.

At yesterday's Asian Games send-off ceremony at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, he was apprehensive about setting targets for his swimmers.

He said: "Expectations tend to be a burden on athletes. What we really want them to do is do their very best times in their events.

"I will not be disappointed if they do their (personal) best times."

In all, the SSA will send 26 water-polo players, 17 swimmers and four divers to Incheon. The swimmers will leave for a week-long training camp in Japan on Sept 10 while the divers left for Guangzhou this morning.

Both contingents will head straight to Incheon.

While the athletes were getting their Team Singapore collar pins at the send-off ceremony, thing were not as smooth for diver Mark Lee, who injured his left toe in a training accident yesterday morning. He will not travel with the divers to Guangzhou and will undergo further examination tomorrow to ascertain the full extent of his injury.

siangyee@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 31, 2014.
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