SINGAPORE — Singapore’s Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling suffered a shock elimination from his pet event, the 100m butterfly, at the Fina World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, on Friday morning (26 July).
The 24-year-old clocked 52.93 seconds in the morning heats, finishing only in eighth place in the seventh race of the heats. The timing is some way off his 2016 Olympic gold-winning time of 50.39sec in the same event in Rio de Janeiro.
As a result, he was only the 24th-fastest swimmer in the overall heats results, and missed out on being among the top 16 swimmers advancing to the semi-finals on Friday evening.
“I’m obviously very disappointed with the time but I’m not going to dwell on this performance,” Schooling said after the heats. “Maybe I would have two years ago but no, there are a lot of positives to look at.
“It’s a reality check coming home. All I can do is to go back and fix the things I could have done and do better. I will come back a new swimmer. I have got a lot of work to do going into next year. This is something I had to go through and it’s better that this happened this year than next year.
“But the most important thing is I’m motivated and I want to do it. This has put fire in my belly and I need to just keep moving forward in my preparations for next year.”
Australia’s David Morgan was the final qualifier for the semi-finals, clocking 52.44sec in his heat. American swim star Caeleb Dressel, already with three golds in this World Championships, topped the heats with a time of 50.28sec.
Schooling had won a joint-bronze in the same event at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest with Briton James Guy, with a time of 50.83sec.
Friday’s result represents a major setback for the Singaporean, who is bidding to defend his 100m fly gold medal at next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
In his last competitive outing, June’s Singapore National Swimming Championships, he clocked 54.63sec in his 100m fly race without tapering for the meet.
In last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta, he set a Games record of 51.04sec en route to winning gold in the event.
He clocked 54.63sec in his last competitive outing, the Singapore National Swimming Championships in June at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, but hadn't tapered for that meet. He won the same event at the Asian Games in Indonesia in 2018, in a Games record of 51.04sec.
Earlier on Monday, Schooling had also failed to make the last-16 of the 50m fly, when he clocked 23.73sec to finish 20th overall.
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