C'wealth Games: Schooling reigns in Turner's talent pool

C'wealth Games: Schooling reigns in Turner's talent pool
Joseph Schooling is down for six individual and three relay events in Glasgow and is cautious about his chances in view of the top-class competition from Australia, England, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand.

Since Singapore first participated in the Commonwealth Games in 1958, 71 medals of various colours have been won but not one has come from the Republic's traditional strength - swimming.

But that long drought could end in Glasgow, where a 19-year-old is strongly tipped to become the first Singaporean to finally stand on the podium.

Add to that the determination of national coach and technical director Ian Turner to leave his post on a high and there is a buzz in the camp indicating that this could indeed be the hour they finally make their mark at the Commonwealth Games.

From his squad of 11 swimmers, the Briton has picked Joseph Schooling to be Singapore's best hope for a medal.

Turner told The Straits Times: "He has an extremely good coach (Spain's former Olympic medallist Sergio Lopez) who has guided him very carefully.

"Joseph has improved at every big meet and he is nicely placed in a number of events in Glasgow. I am very optimistic about his chances.

Schooling has a packed schedule at Glasgow's Tollcross Swimming Pool, where he will feature in the 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 100m fly, 200m free, 200m fly and the 200m individual medley.

The Bolles School (Florida) student, who scooped five golds and a silver in last December's SEA Games in Myanmar, will also race in the 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x200m freestyle relay and 4x100 medley relay.

Schooling, however, is more cautious about his chances, saying: "That's coach Turner's prediction, I'm very happy that he has high expectations of me to do great things. I'm focusing on my races and the clock, not on any medal expectations.

"A good campaign for me would be getting my best times in the water. I'm not even thinking about medals right now."

Singapore's other top swimmer, butterfly specialist Tao Li, has also trained with Lopez since April in a bid to perform well in the Commonwealth Games and more importantly, to put her on track to complete her hat-trick of 50m butterfly golds at the Asian Games, after winning in 2006 and 2010.

Turner has praised her for her attitude and motivation and said she will be "prominent" in Glasgow. The 24-year-old Tao said: "My training with Sergio has been good. We have been working on my starts, speed and fitness. I'm in good shape, and hope to take my preparations and convert (them) to a good performance at the Commonwealth Games.

"My preparations have been going well. I hope to clock good timings, that is the most important thing for me. The competition is going to be strong. The swimmers from Canada, Australia and England are very fast but I hope to give the competition a good run for their money."

Because Glasgow will be the final assignment for Turner before he steps down from his post to return home for cancer treatment, he is determined to sign off with a flourish.

He said: "In my first interview in Singapore (in 2012), I said that one of the objectives that motivated me was to help Singapore get its first Commonwealth swimming medal. I am still fairly comfortable that we can achieve that.

"There is South Africa, the English, the Australians and New Zealanders. It is a big ask of our swimmers, as there are so many quality kids around in the Commonwealth Games.

"If we win two medals, I will be absolutely ecstatic. If it's one medal, I'll be happy as well. "But we must leave with a medal."

ALL SYSTEMS GO

My training with Sergio has been good. We have been working on my starts, speed and fitness. I'm in good shape, and hope to take my preparations and convert (them) to a good performance. - Tao Li (above), on her improving condition

TIMES COME FIRST

A good campaign for me would be getting my best times in the water. I'm not even thinking about medals right now. - Joseph Schooling, who is glad coach Turner has high expectations


This article was first published on July 23, 2014.
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