'A tough fighter': Colin Schooling, dad of Olympic champion Joseph, dies aged 73

PHOTO: Instagram/cmjschooling

Colin Schooling — who together with wife May Yim raised Singapore's Olympic champion Joseph Schooling — died on Thursday (Nov 18) at age 73.

He died at the Singapore General Hospital with his loving family by his side, said a Schooling family spokesperson.

The elder Schooling was diagnosed with liver cancer in June and had been going for treatment over the past few months.

In a tribute to her late husband, Yim wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday afternoon: "It is hard to say goodbye, so let's begin with 'see you again'.

"A loving father, a supportive brother, an outgoing uncle, a loyal friend, my husband. Colin is a character on its own. All who personally know him will know what I'm talking about. He speaks freely and passionately, and that is one of the things that I will miss about him."  

While she said that he will be missed, she called him a "tough fighter" and asked others to "celebrate his freedom from pain and suffering and his reunion with The One above."

Meanwhile, the national swimmer posted an old black-and-white photograph of him with his late father. 

"The Schooling family would like to thank everyone for their support and words of comfort during this tough time. We respectfully appreciate the privacy given to the family during this period," said the family spokesperson.

The businessman was born in Singapore and was fluent in a few languages like Hokkien, English and Malay. He was educated at Raffles Institution and also represented the country playing softball. 

He and his wife later poured in all their resources to support their only son's dream of becoming an Olympic champion.

They spent over $1 million on their child's education and swim training, which also meant that they had to make the difficult decision of sending the then-14-year-old to US college preparatory institution Bolles School to train. 

The couple also lobbied to get their son a deferment from national service in 2013 to help prepare for Rio Olympics in 2016 – where he eventually won the gold medal in the 100m butterfly with a time of 50.39 seconds. 

It was Singapore's first-ever Olympic gold medal. 

Following reports of the elder Schooling's death, the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) posted on Facebook describing him as a "strong supporter of the local swimming ecosystem".

They added: "He was instrumental in Joseph's rise to becoming Singapore's first and currently Olympic gold medallist."

READ ALSO: Schooling family named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2016 

zakaria@asiaone.com