Schooling makes history

Schooling makes history
Joseph Isaac Schooling of Singapore watches after competing in the men's 100m butterfly semi-final at the Aquatics World Championships in Kazan, Russia, August 7, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

You can be sure he ain't no average Joe.

National swimming ace Joseph Schooling created history late last night when he won the Republic's first-ever medal at a World Swimming Championships, when he finished third in the men's 100m fly with a time of 50.96sec in Kazan, Russia.

The time is a new Asian record, bettering the previous best of 51.00sec set by Japan's Kohei Kawamoto in 2009, and would have placed Schooling fourth at the 2012 London Olympics.

It was also more than seven-tenths of a second quicker than the 51.69sec which he clocked en route to winning Singapore's first medal at a Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow last July.

Schooling lowered the time, which was a national record, to 51.65sec in Friday's heats, and then again to 51.40sec in the semi-finals later that day, before smashing it last night.

South Africa's Chad Le Clos, who won the 200m fly gold and 100m fly silver at the 2012 London Olympics, finished first in last night's race with a time of 50.56, while Hungary's Laszlo Cseh won silver in a time of 50.87.

"I came to the World Championships with an intention of winning a medal in any three of my individual events," said Schooling. "I came close in the 50m and I knew that today was my last chance.

"I couldn't be happier to have won a medal on the eve of Singapore's 50th birthday and would like to dedicate this win to everyone who has supported and believed in me.

"I am delighted with my individual performance at this World Championships and will continue to work hard towards Rio 2016."

Last night, Schooling again demonstrated the explosive start he had shown in earlier races at the Worlds, bursting from the starting blocks with a reaction time of 0.60sec, the best among the final field of eight swimmers.

He even led the pack at the turn, but le Clos, 23, turned on the style in the final stretch to power home and touch the wall in a new personal best to retain the title he had won two years ago in Barcelona.

Singapore's national swim coach Sergio Lopez said: "I'm very proud to see Joseph win this well-deserved medal. I am very happy for his parents and the people in Singapore who have supported him.

"This win today shows that we do have the talent to do well at a big stage and, for Joseph, it also means that he has proven himself to be among the top swimmers in the world."

There was less joy for Singapore's other swimmers in action in Kazan yesterday.

Quah Ting Wen finished 53rd overall out of 113 swimmers, in the women's 50m freestyle heats with a time of 26.51sec, while younger brother Zheng Wen missed the cut for the 50m backstroke semi-finals by just a quarter of a second when he finished 20th overall in the heats with a time of 25.44sec.

Roanne Ho finished 38th overall in a field of 73 in the women's 50m breaststroke heats with a time of 32.20sec, while the quartet of Zheng Wen, Ting Wen, Amanda Lim and Yeo Kai Quan posted a time of 3min 34.58sec, in the 4x100m mixed relay heats to finish 13th overall.

msazali@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 9, 2015.
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