Asian Games: Schooling ends 24-year wait

Asian Games: Schooling ends 24-year wait

A wait that has deepened to 24 years is finally over.

Yesterday, Joseph Schooling ended Singapore's quest for the next Asiad men's swimming medal when he clinched bronze in the 200m fly at the Munhak Park Tae Hwan Aquatics Centre - despite nursing a nerve injury in his right shoulder

He clocked 1 min 57.54sec, behind Japan's Daiya Seto and Kenta Hirai, both 20, who timed 1:54.08 and 1:55.47 respectively.

With China's Wang Pudong in hot pursuit in the final 50 metres, Schooling pushed through the pain barrier, pipping Wang to the bronze by a mere 0.26sec.

The Republic's last men's swimming medals at the Asiad came in 1990. Then, Ang Peng Siong won a silver in the 50m free and the men's relay team finished third in the 4x100m free.

Yet, despite the landmark feat, Schooling, 19, initially looked disappointed when he met reporters at the mixed zone before the butterfly specialist became more relaxed.

"To be honest, I was a little disappointed at first. My timing wasn't what I wanted to go," said the freshman at the University of Texas at Austin.

"I started out too slow, (was) too relaxed and my body position was too low.

"But after that, I calmed down, and when everything started to soak, it's actually a pretty cool first Asian Games experience."

Schooling, whose personal best in the 200m fly is 1:56.27, acknowledged that the first race at a meet is always the hardest.

"I'm glad I got that one through. I'm sure it makes everyone in Singapore proud, and I'm very proud of myself too."

Sergio Lopez, who coached him leading up to the Asiad and who flew in from the United States last Friday, said his protege can go even faster.

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