REPORTING FROM KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
While Joseph Schooling may have had disappointing performances at this year’s NCAA Championships and FINA World Championships, his mother insists that the 2016 Olympic gold medallist is not in a slump.
“There’s no shortcut to being a champion. It’s hard work all the time. It’s got a momentum that you have to pick up again, and maybe he picked up too late,” said May Schooling.
“If you start too late… it’s like a rubber band. You don’t pull it enough, you cannot shoot further,” she added.
The 62-year-old May spoke to Yahoo News Singapore following the morning heats of the SEA Games 2017 swimming competition held at the National Aquatic Centre in Kuala Lumpur on Monday (21 August).
She had travelled to Malaysia to support her 22-year-old son, who is set to compete in the 50m butterfly, 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle along with three relay events at this year’s Games – and is looking to win them all.
In March, Joseph was dethroned in the 100 yard butterfly event at the NCAA Championships by US rival Caeleb Dressel and failed to qualify for the 200 yard butterfly finals, while he had to settle for bronze in the 100m butterfly race at July’s World Championships.
Despite the recent setbacks, May said that she and her husband had never urged their son to set a target following his historic Olympic performance last year, adding that he needed to “find his way”.
“(Joseph) has always pushed himself. If he doesn’t have that drive, you cannot force it on him,” she said, adding, “He knows. He hates to be beaten.”
Need for psychological support
May also acknowledged that Sport Singapore and the Singapore Sports Institute have done a lot to help in the support of high-performance athletes, and that her son’s performance on the world stage had opened their eyes to new possibilities.
She added, however, that her son could have done with more support in the area of sports psychology given that he is “still young”.
“Basically, every top athlete needs someone to guide their mind. It could be a sports psychologist or someone that knows him and knows how to motivate him,” she elaborated.
“When you’re (competing) at a high level and the hundredth of a second matters, it’s the mind that (makes up) the difference.”
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