He became the first man from the Republic to win a medal in the pool at the Asian Games since 1990 last night, but Singapore's Joseph Schooling was not a happy man.
The 19-year-old was not even born when Ang Peng Siong won the 50m freestyle final at the 1990 Games in Beijing.
Ending a 24-year-old drought, Schooling fought back in the final 75m to collect bronze in 1min 57.54sec in the 200m butterfly final at the Munhak Park Tae Hwan Aquatics Center in Incheon, South Korea.
Japan's Daiya Seto took gold in 1:54.08, while compatriot Kenta Hirai won silver in 1:55.47.
Speaking to The New Paper after his swim, Schooling, whose national record stands at 1:56.27, said: "I'm happy with the result and the medal, but I'm disappointed with my time. "I'm a 200m swimmer but I've been under-performing and I haven't had a good 200m fly for a year.
"Tonight, I fought for it and didn't give up when others went ahead of me... so that's a huge step forward."
Schooling now has two medals from two major meets, after bagging the Commonwealth Games silver medal in the 100m butterfly.
And he's poised to add more to his tally in his remaining races - the 200m individual medley today, 100m butterfly on Wednesday and 50m butterfly on Thursday.
"Obviously, I'm much more relaxed than I was in Glasgow (at the Commonwealth Games)," said Schooling, who admitted he had bungled the 50m and 200m butterfly finals in Scotland due to nerves.
"I've had to grow up fast moving from Florida to Texas, graduating from high school to college and carrying more responsibilities as I become an adult.
"Training's been going on well in Texas, where there's more volume to it, and now I'm here to race and win, and the good news is I'm much better prepared for the 50m and 100m. "Hopefully, I'll get better medals and swim better times."
Schooling's former coach, Sergio Lopez, who is still working with him for this Games, believes there are more medals to come from his protege in Incheon.
"I think he's in a better place psychologically after winning that Commonwealth Games medal," said Lopez, who pointed to Schooling's joint-Asian record of 23.43 in the 50m butterfly and national record of 51.69 in the 100m butterfly.
"He's got a legitimate chance of winning the 50m and 100m butterfly finals because he is faster than anybody else from Asia this season.
"But if he goes home with three bronze medals in his first Asian Games outing, will Singapore be unhappy?
"Let's take it one race at a time but what he's doing has a great impact outside the pool as well because he is inspiring young Singaporean swimmers to believe they can also one day be an Asian Games medallist."
Besides Schooling's heroics, there were other swimmers who did well for Singapore yesterday.
Danny Yeo clocked a new personal best of 1:49.90 in the 200m freestyle final to finish sixth, while the women's 4x100m freestyle relay team of Nur Marina Chan, Amanda Lim, Lynette Lim and Quah Ting Wen came in fifth in 3:47.62.
This article was first published on September 22, 2014.
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