What lies ahead for Joseph Schooling

Aug 17, 2016 09.00AM |

by Suhaile Md

THANK goodness Joseph Schooling did not fly to the US after the Olympics as he originally planned. With his gruelling schedule filled with training and classes at the University of Texas, he would have missed out on the celebrations here and Singaporeans would have had to congratulate their hero from halfway across the world. It just feels better when the hero is home, no?

Schooling arrived home early Monday (August 15) morning to “celebrate the success with everyone here and not just my family and friends”, he said at a press conference in the sports hub yesterday (August 16).

And he has been busy: Parliament on Monday afternoon to witness the moving of a motion to congratulate him, visiting his alma mater Anglo Chinese School (Junior) on Tuesday morning and meeting athletes at the Aquatic centre in the sports hub later in the day. Still, he found time to catch up with friends and eat his favourite dish, chai tow kuay (for the record, he usually has it at Bee Bee Carrot Cake, Marine Terrace Market, mum May Schooling told TMG) and even got a tattoo of the Olympic rings etched onto his biceps (at The Standard Tattoo, said family friend U-Gene Chan).

Image by Najeer Yusof.


But now that the Ministry of Defence has extended his deferment from National Service until after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, what lies ahead for Schooling once he returns to the US?


School and training

“Don’t have time for extracurricular activities”

Champions never rest it seems.

A “heavy day” for him is filled with training on top of university classes, said Schooling at a press conference at the Singapore Sports Hub yesterday. He starts training at six in the morning before heading off for a quick bite an hour and a half later. Classes from 9am occupy him until lunch at 12.30pm – which he downs quickly – before heading for four more hours of training till dinner at 5pm.

The honour student then hunkers down for a three-hour study session from 6pm onwards. But it can stretch past midnight if exams are on the horizon.

While he trains six days a week, not every day is as packed. His class schedule varies from semester to semester. He takes on a lighter academic workload when competitions are near, taking the precious time to rest and recuperate.


Bigger goals

“The world record for 100m [butterfly]”

Schooling clinched the Olympic record for 100m butterfly event with his time of 50.39 seconds. This however is still shy of the world record of 49.82 seconds set by Michael Phelps in 2009. But clearly, he’s got his eyes on it.

He wants to try for the 200m butterfly event as well. As it is, he has been training for it as it helps with the 100m race. Besides the butterfly events, he will continue with training for the 100m freestyle. He said, “I think I’ve got a good future in that. First time I raced it in the Olympics and I qualified sixth and finished top 16.”


12,000 calories

That’s how much Schooling needs to consume in a day, said his father, Colin Schooling on the sidelines of the press conference. One plain prata is about 300 calories. So you would need to stomach 40 pratas a day to get the same amount of energy Schooling needs.

But of course, Schooling diet is much healthier, with less oil and more nutrition. Usually he stays off carbonated drinks and fast food. Most of the time, he eats at the athlete’s dining hall at the University of Texas, said Mrs Schooling. If you’re curious about what the meals they serve there, check out the video below.


Spend time with friends

Free time is scarce but when he does manage to squeeze out some, Schooling unwinds by spending time with his friends, playing video games like Halo and Call of Duty or going kayaking.

Some of his friends though recently invited him to join them for hunting, which is legal in Texas. And that’s something he’s looking forward to. Learning “how to hunt, that would be kinda cool”, he said.


Holding the fort at the top

“I like to be on top. I like having people chase me.”

At the end of the day, being an Olympic champion was always his dream. “Every day I’ve trained to put myself in that position,” he said. And now that he’s at the top, he wants to maintain his dominance.

When asked if he could be the next Michael Phelps, Schooling said he doubt anyone could ever win as many Olympic medals as Phelps did. But he added: “I want to make a mark for myself, set my own tone, I don’t want to be compared to anyone.”

All the best, Schooling!


Featured image by Najeer Yusof. 

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