Olympic champion Joseph Schooling still values racing at SEA Games

Hannah Teoh
Senior Content Producer
Singapore’s Joseph Schooling competes in the men’s 100m butterfly final of the SEA Games 2017 on Wednesday (23 August). (PHOTO: Associated Press)

REPORTING FROM KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

Despite “hurting” from competing in the World Championships, Singapore’s Joseph Schooling clinched gold in his pet event – the 100m butterfly – at the 2017 SEA Games on Wednesday (23 August) night.

The Olympic gold medalist clocked a time of 51.38 seconds, breaking his 2015 Games record of 52.13s. His best time this season was 50.83s, which earned him a bronze at the Championships.

Schooling admitted after the race at Kuala Lumpur’s National Aquatics Centre that he was not expecting to set his best times at the Games.

“Coming into this meet wasn’t really all about times. It was about the effort I could give, and kind of mentoring the younger kids and being a good role model to them,” he explained.

“It was not the best time but I’m happy with the effort that I gave. The result, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

While he has been widely expected to win all his events in record times, Schooling said there was no such thing as taking things easy when it comes to races.

“Once you get into that cruise control mindset, things can deteriorate pretty quickly. I’m halfway through my events. I got a double  tomorrow (the 100m freestyle and a relay) and one more medley relay  on Saturday,” said the 22-year-old.

“(Quah) Zheng Wen and I are hurting pretty bad coming off the World Championships. But we can see the finish line. We are almost there, we are going to finish up strong, no letting our foot off the gas.”

Schooling also affirmed the importance of participating at a regional meet like the SEA Games.

“Every opportunity I can bring pride and glory to my country, I’m going to take that opportunity… The crowd is very enthusiastic, very patriotic. So of course I’d love to come out here and perform, not only in front of my home fans but for (everyone),” he told one reporter who asked why an Olympic champion was still competing at the SEA Games.

“It’s a nice mix of everyone coming together. It brings me a lot of happiness.”

More medals added to the haul

Meanwhile, the Quah siblings also contributed to the day’s medal haul. Quah Ting Wen, 25, took gold in the 100m freestyle in a new Games record of 55.74s – beating the previous record of 55.93s – and in the 50m freestyle. She won the most gold medals of the night.

Her brother Zheng Wen, 20, added a gold in the 200m backstroke, while debutant 17-year-old Francis Fong took silver. Danny Yeo, 27, added a bronze in the 200m freestyle.

Sisters Ting Wen and 16-year-old Jing Wen, Rachel Tseng, 19, and Christie Chue, 17, also ended the night winning gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay with a time of 8:10.41 – breaking the previous Games record of 8:11.75.

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