From golden boy to homecoming king

From golden boy to homecoming king
Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling, seen here on a knoll top overlooking a section of the athlete's village, during the 27th South-east Asian (SEA) Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, on 17 December 2013.

NAYPYIDAW- Two years ago in Indonesia, Joseph Schooling, a pimply teenager, took his first plunge in a SEA Games swimming meet - and surfaced with two gold medals.

His winning performance in the 50m and 200m butterfly generated a wave of excitement and promised more great things to come. The 18-year-old did not disappoint.

At the just-ended Myanmar SEA Games at the Wunna Theikdi Swimming Complex, he garnered five golds and one silver to be crowned king of the pool and the event's most decorated swimmer.

A lot has changed for Schooling since Palembang 2011. Despite the immense pressure and high expectations placed on his shoulders, he did not crack.

Instead, he responded with record-breaking times.

Said Singapore's chef de mission Annabel Pennefather: "I am extremely happy for Joseph because he has met his objectives.

"He has had a lot of pressure placed on him before the Games."

At Naypyidaw, Schooling could not afford to fail, especially since the government made a landmark decision two months ago to grant him deferment from national service.

Said the United States-based swimmer: "At the last Games in Indonesia, I wasn't expecting anything. Of course, I wanted to win but I didn't really set any goals.

"Now, everything has changed.

"Before the Myanmar Games, I even said I wanted to win all my events.

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