The 'golden boy' Schooling mobbed on return to Singapore

Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling, center, is surrounded by media and people on his arrival at the Singapore Changi Airport in Singapore Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. Schooling won gold medal in the men's 100-meter butterfly and made history by winning the country's first gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)

It was a photo taken with Michael Phelps that inspired Joseph Schooling to Olympic gold

SINGAPORE — It was a photo taken with Michael Phelps that inspired Joseph Schooling to Olympic gold. So when he was mobbed by fans on his return to Singapore, he made sure he posed for a few.

Hundreds packed Singapore's Changi Airport as the 21-year-old Schooling returned from Rio de Janeiro with an Olympic gold medal around his neck on Monday. He beat his idol in the 100-meter butterfly to deliver the first ever Olympic gold medal for the city-state of 5.54 million.

"Definitely the highlight of my life," he told the crowd. "Thank you everyone for coming. This (gold) is not for me. This is for everyone. Thank you guys."

Schooling, who attends the University of Texas, will spend four days celebrating in events in Singapore, including an open-top parade.

Sim Siew Png arrived at the airport seven hours early in the hopes of seeing his hero.

"I wanted to see the golden boy," the 17-year-old Sim said as he clutched a pair of red swimming trunks that he hoped to get autographed. "Watching the moment live on television left me excited and happy. My family was screaming."

Sim was recalling Saturday's showdown in Rio where Schooling built a big lead and won in an Olympic record of 50.39 seconds. Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, South Africa's Chad le Chlos and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary shared a three-way tie for silver.

Schooling's father, Colin, did not travel to Rio but said he'd dreamed of the Singapore anthem being sung in the Olympic stadium.

"They did it this time," he said. "That made my day.

"I got a feeling that Michael gave him some words of praises. I'm glad my son also showed respect. That goes well with me," he said. "Now we have to aim for the world record."

Schooling spent more than an hour thanking his supporters Monday, signing autographs and posing for photos with fans as people screamed and chanted his name.

Schooling was just a 13-year-old kid in 2008 when Phelps showed up to train at his club in Singapore ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

While other kids rushed at Phelps wanting photos, Schooling was frozen. He couldn't believe his swimming idol was in front of him. Eventually, he mustered the courage to ask for a picture, too.

"A lot of this is because of Michael," Schooling said after his victory. "He's the reason why I want to be a better swimmer."

Schooling is already inspiring young Singaporeans.

"I came to support him because he's friendly, approachable and very nice to little children," Judy Eng said, recounting how her nine-year-old son was on the receiving end of one such swimming pep talk.

Not only is Schooling a good role model, he's also a little wealthier now too.

By winning his country's first Olympic gold, Schooling earned a bonus of $1 million Singapore dollars or nearly US$750,000.

Related News

Hamilton takes pole position for Malaysian GP;...

Sep 30, 2017

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix while title rival Sebastian Vettel's...

Ferrari woes continue as Raikkonen retires from...

Oct 1, 2017

Ferrari's woes continued with Kimi Raikkonen retiring before the start of Sunday's Malaysian Grand...

Red Bull's Verstappen wins Malaysian Grand Prix

Oct 1, 2017

Max Verstappen celebrated his birthday by winning the Malaysian Grand Prix in style on Sunday,...

A year on from Malaysia misery, all is well with...

Sep 28, 2017

A year ago Lewis Hamilton was questioning whether some people inside his own team actually wanted...

Mercedes unhappy despite extending lead in F1...

Oct 2, 2017

Mercedes is giving a false impression of dominance in this season's Formula One championship....

The Latest: Post-mortem found VX caused Kim Jong...

Oct 3, 2017

A post-mortem report submitted as evidence in the trial of two women accused of murdering the half...

You may also like these

The Latest: Chemist found VX on Vietnamese...

Oct 5, 2017

A chemist has told a Malaysian court he found traces of VX nerve agent and its precursors on the...

Perez leads CIMB Classic by 1 at halfway stage

Oct 13, 2017

Pat Perez leads by one stroke halfway through the CIMB Classic after carding a 7-under-par 65...

Asia leads Europe by 1 point after first day of...

Jan 12, 2018

Asia has bucked the odds to lead defending champion Europe 3 1/2 to 2 1/2 after the opening day of...

Locally transmitted Zika virus infects 41 in...

Aug 28, 2016

Officials say more than 40 people have been infected locally by the Zika virus in Singapore, but...

Bottas never felt "in a panic" about new Mercedes...

Sep 15, 2017

Valtteri Bottas took his new Mercedes contract in his stride, even though the decision to give him...

SukanKini focuses on the nation’s favorite sports and local leagues and the rivalry between our teams with other players across South East Asia and even all over the world.

Contact us: sales@sukankini.com