Singapore star swimmer Schooling counters failure to win SEA Games gold

By Lam Thoa, Xuan Binh   May 17, 2022 | 01:03 am PT
Singapore star swimmer Schooling counters failure to win SEA Games gold
Joseph Schooling wins the swimming gold medal at SEA Games 31 in Hanoi on May 16, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
After his team made a mistake that cost Singapore a gold medal, Joseph Schooling came back stronger to win two SEA Games 31 gold Monday night.

Schooling finished first in the 100-meter butterfly and 4x100-meter men's relay. The Olympic gold medalist dedicated this victory to his father, who died in November 2021.

"This win is for my father. After what happened yesterday, we had to leave everything behind us. I'm so grateful for my teammates, who have given me encouragement, or else my mind would have been upside down. This victory for me was easy because my teammates have done their job well," Schooling told VnExpress.

On Saturday, Singapore finished first in the men's 4x100-meter freestyle after three minutes and 17.19 seconds, followed by Malaysia and Vietnam. However, the referee decided to cancel the result of Singapore and Malaysia because one of their swimmers had left his blocks early at a changeover, before being ushered away.

A Singaporean referee had said then that Schooling took his turn before his teammate touched the finish line. This result put Vietnam first, while Singaporean media said the host was favored.

Later, Schooling received a lot of support from the media, his coach and teammates. The coach of Singapore swimming Gary Tan affirmed it was not Schooling's fault.

In the latest update of SEA Games 31 organizers, Schooling is not the one who made the mistake. According to the official result announced on Tuesday, Jonathan Tan was the one who started 0.05 seconds before his teammate Quah Zheng Wen touched the finish line. The regulations said a swimmer can start up to 0.03 seconds earlier. Singh Chahal was the one who made a mistake in Malaysia’s performance when he started 0.12 seconds earlier. Malaysia thus were also disqualified despite finishing second.

Schooling's teammate Quah Zheng Wen said: "Schooling has stood up and fought after failure. Everything stayed the same. We are even stronger than before now."

Schooling set the target of winning six gold medals in this SEA Games.

He was also impressed with home fans at My Dinh Water Sports Stadium.

"The fans are very energetic. After two years of competing without spectators, I feel really happy with the fans here. There are also fans from other countries. You can't ignore the importance of spectators," Schooling said.

So far, Schooling has won 29 gold medals at SEA Games events. In 2016, he became the first-ever Singaporean swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal.

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