He was both happy and sad, relieved and exhausted.
A gamut of emotions ran through the mind of Asian Games champion Joseph Schooling last night, after the Singapore sensation claimed golds No. 7 and 8 of the SEA Games swimming programme at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
The 19-year-old University of Texas undergraduate claimed victory in new Games-record times of 23.49sec and 2min 0.66sec in the men's 50m butterfly and 200m individual medley respectively.
Teammate Quah Zheng Wen was third in the 50m butterfly (24.36) and second in the 200m IM (2:02.22).
Said Schooling: "I feel relieved, but I feel pretty bad right now as I am pretty tired, but I know that I have one more event tomorrow, and it's a relay.
"I will give it my all and finish this SEA Games with a bang, just the way I started it."
Quah, 18, was disappointed but vowed to come back stronger on the last day of competition.
"The 50 fly is not my forte, so getting a medal is already pretty good, but I could have gone faster in the 200 IM.
"I was hoping for better, but I think tomorrow will be better," he said.
Schooling had cherished his homecoming for a long time, and all week the raucous reception for the Bolles School graduate and the rest of the Singapore swimmers has been beyond his imagination.
"It's been good, this is nuts, I have not expected anything like this and it exceeds what I have ever dreamed of.
"Thank you everyone for coming down and supporting us.
"I am excited and sad at the same time to finish the last day," said the record-breaking swimmer, who will be part of the Singapore men's 4x100m medley relay today.
While he was expecting to do well in the butterfly events, Schooling counted his first event - the men's 100m freestyle - his most memorable swim at this Games.
He said: "I knew I could go around 48.50sec but no one believed I could, not even my coach (Eddie Reese). He said I was going to clock a low 49-sec timing, that really spurred me on to prove him wrong, so I think that was my best race so far."
While Schooling has yet to think about the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, from July 24 to Aug 9, his university coach has already started plotting his protege's preparations ahead of the big meet.
Before flying off for home last night, Reese told The New Paper: "His times (here) have been world-class... even his 100 fly, even if it's not as good as what we wanted, it's still a heck of a swim. "He is swimming in a lot of events, and he is human and getting tired."
While 73-year-old Reese had said earlier that Schooling may compete in four events - three butterfly races and the 200m IM - at the world meet, the Singaporean could swim in just three.
Reese said: "He is probably going to do the three fly events, we've looked at the order of events and it's just hard to add the 200 free and the 200 IM.
"Maybe in the future we will do those too, but this year we will go with just the butterfly events and see what that gets us."
The coach expects his swimmer to be back in training at around June 19, after a short family holiday.
Reese said: "You definitely want to get him well rested for this meet (world championships)... so I will give him a few more breaks along the way.
"I think he will be surprisingly good at the worlds... his 100 and 200 fly will be better."
Meet Schooling on June 17
You have seen him in videos, at the SEA Games opening ceremony, and in the OCBC Aquatic Centre pool, beating all-comers en route to eight golds so far.
Come June 17, you can also meet Asian Games champion Joseph Schooling (right) up close and personal.
The 19-year-old is a local ambassador for the Fina World Junior Swimming Championships at the Singapore Sports Hub from Aug 25 to 30.
The mutiple SEA Games gold medallist will be at the mall, in support of the upcoming event, between 12pm and 1pm on June 17.
This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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