Schooling has the form

Former national swimmer David Lim says form is with Schooling but Phelps has experience

THE BEST IS YET TO BE: Joseph Schooling (above) has a faster time within him, says former national swimmer David Lim.

Singaporeans, wherever you are this morning at 9am, try to spare half an hour or so because Olympic history could well be made for our little red dot.

Yes, put aside your mobile phones and stop hunting Pokemons, for you could be catching something rarer than a Charizard or Dragonite.

Switch on your televisions and watch with bated breath as Singapore's swim star Joseph Schooling attempts to splash his way into the history books.

The 21-year-old is eyeing an unprecedented Olympic gold medal as he lines up in Lane 4 against his idol and American swim legend Michael Phelps (Lane 2) in the men's 100m butterfly final scheduled for 9.12am at the Olympic Aquatic Stadium in Rio.

Schooling progressed to the final as the fastest qualifier by winning the second semi-final yesterday morning (Singapore time) in a new Asian and national record of 50.83 seconds.

This is also the fastest time in the 100m butterfly this year and the first time a Singaporean man has made an Olympic swimming final.

Earlier in the day, the University of Texas undergraduate had also finished top of the 43-man heats in 51.41 without breaking sweat.

With such form and fitness, former national swimmer David Lim feels Schooling has "a very high chance" of medalling, and even predicted "it will be 50-50 between Joe and Phelps for the gold medal".

"There is definitely every reason to feel excited for Joe, who is on the brink of creating amazing history," the 49-year-old founder of Swimfast Aquatic Club told The New Paper.

"In hindsight, his decision to swim in the 100m freestyle and drop the 200m butterfly was a good move, although it probably didn't really matter which one he dropped.

"The term 'warm-up' may have been taken out of context by some, and I feel it is important Joe swam in another event before this main one to get a feel of the water and get rid of any nerves. In that sense, it was a 'warm-up' in a mental sense rather than a physical one.

RIGHT STRATEGY

"In any case, he has set new national records in both the 100m free and 100m fly, and is in great form going into the 100m fly final, so it is a successful strategy."

Lim, a two-time Olympian in 1984 and 1988, sized up Schooling's main rivals for the final.

The main man standing in the Singaporean's way is none other than Phelps, who has already won four times in Rio, taking his Olympic tally to 22 gold medals.

The American is also the world-record holder in the 100m fly with a time of 49.82 set in 2009 during the era of the now-banned polyurethane and non-textile suits.

"Phelps is 31 and will definitely feel the effects of his six-event programme. But he can never be written off," said Lim.

"Look at the way he maximised his huge armspan to come back from being last at the turn to finish just 0.01sec behind Hungarian Laszlo Cseh in the first semi-final and qualifying for the final.

"He can switch it on when it matters and he will be the biggest obstacle in Joe's way."

Swimming beside Schooling in Lane 5 is South African Chad le Clos, who is the other swimmer besides Phelps to have a better personal best than Schooling.

The 24-year-old le Clos clocked 50.56 to win the 100m fly gold at last year's world championships. He was also the silver medallist in this event behind Phelps at London 2012.

"Le Clos looked a bit off at this Olympics. Even though he won silver in the men's 200m freestyle final, he is more of a 200m flyer. But, after beating Phelps to the gold medal at London 2012, he finished only fourth this year," said Lim.

"Le Clos definitely has what it takes to win, but I just feel he has faded somewhat recently."

FATIGUE

As for Hungarian Laszlo Cseh, Lim said: "Cseh won the first and slower semi-final in 51.57, but he looked so fatigued. At his age (30), I'm not sure he can recover fully in time for the final."

Lim feels that Schooling can go even faster in the final.

He said: "In the semi-finals, his last touch was long and he couldn't take another stroke, so I definitely believe a faster time is within him.

"And he will need it because it looks like the gold medal-winning time will be below 50.83. But Joe is definitely the man to beat."

TNP New Face 2016 - Kim Min Pei Lam

Kim Min Pei Lam, 22

Freelance model and student at Nanyang Technological University's Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information

Before joining New Face 2016, Kim was first runner-up at Miss World Singapore in 2014. She was also crowned Miss Photogenic and Miss Personality at the pageant. She said: "I was shocked because I didn't expect to win those titles. I went in without any expectations, just for the experience. And to have my name called on stage, it was definitely a sweet surprise."

Who do you look up to for style tips?

My sisters are huge fashionistas. It also helps that the three of us are about the same size and can share many pieces. Dressing up always becomes quite a discussion because one sister might feel this way about an outfit, and the other might feel another way. So it's nice to get styling tips from them.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

When people don't put effort into grooming themselves. To me, proper presentation and grooming are really important because they show you have respect for yourself and for the people around you.

What kind of music do you like?

My siblings and I grew up listening mainly to classical music. I started learning how to play the flute when I was 12 years old. When I was 16 to 18, I remember being obsessed with playing the flute and listening to classical music. Recently, my taste has expanded to include more genres, especially acoustic covers. I love how they're familiar yet new at the same time.

If there was a fire at home, what is the one item you would save?

My heels, but not for vanity. Each pair has carried me through a series of events. I may love one pair more than another, but they're all special to me for very sentimental reasons.

Describe yourself in three words.

Loyal, positive and brave.

See more at tnp.sg/tnpnewface16

Morning blast rips through police booth

Busy Phuket tourist belt deserted after police blocks off areas for investigations

After she was rudely awakened by an explosion, Ms Amm Nathradee Kanjanayotee looked out the window of her Phuket home to find the next-door police booth damaged.

The 24-year-old Thai national went downstairs and was shocked to see the damaged booth with smoke trailing skywards.

"There were many taxi drivers and motorcyclists stopping by to take photographs of the site," she told The New Paper (TNP) in Thai.

A Thai motorcyclist was slightly injured in yesterday's 8.45am blast, Reuters reported. There were no other casualties.

The road was quiet that day, said Ms Amm, the owner of K.R. World Sports Centre department store. It doubles as her home along Thaweewong Road in Phuket's Patong district.

The usually busy tourist spot became a ghost town yesterday morning as police cordoned off parts of it for investigations into the bombings.

Ms Amm said her department store was initially closed, but it later opened for business at 2pm.

"I was worried for my employees. We wouldn't open if it weren't safe (for them)," said Ms Amm.

But other shops were not so daring.

About half the shops along the road were still closed at 4pm when TNP contacted Ms Amm.

She also noticed that there was significantly fewer customers in her store that day.

"Business is slow today, but I think it will return to normal after this period, once this whole incident is over," she said.

There were many taxi drivers and motorcyclists stopping by to take photographs of the site.

- Ms Amm Nathradee Kanjanayotee, who lives and owns a store next to the police booth (below), the site of the bombing in Phuket's Patong district

Tags: thailand, bomb and Tourism

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Surge in powerbank sales, thanks to Pokemon Go

Stores see surge in sales of power banks and power cables

ON THE GO: The game, which requires players to head outdoors (right) while leaving the app running, drains the phone's battery life quickly.

Power banks have been flying off the shelves here - probably thanks to Pokemon Go.

One major retailer, Challenger Technologies, has seen a 130 per cent increase in its power bank sales, said its chief marketing officer Loo Pei Fen.

"Due to the Pokemon Go craze, Challenger has noted a huge spike in the sales of higher capacity power banks for faster charging while people are out playing the game," she added.

While the free-to-play game will not increase data usage significantly, keeping it on while moving around to capture Pokemon or find PokeStops drains battery life as it uses several functions such as location-based services and augmented reality.

Singapore has been hit by the Pokemon craze since it was launched last Saturday. Hordes of players glued to their devices have been spotted at parks across the island - right up to the wee hours of the morning - trying to capture much vaunted digital creatures such as Snorlax, Porygon and Lapras.

ON THE GO: Power banks are selling fast due to Pokemon Go (above). TNP PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ISKANDAR ROSSALI

At Courts Singapore, sales have doubled in the first half of the month, as compared to the same period last month.

Its chief executive officer Stan Kim said: "With several of our stores located near PokeStops throughout the island and Courts Megastore being a Pokestop itself, I believe we can say with confidence that this is due to the combined impact of the long National Day weekend and Pokemon Go."

Lamch & Co's director Catherine Ho, whose company distributes such devices to shops here, said: "We have definitely seen a spike in orders... from the various channels in Singapore. In some cases, orders have tripled, specifically for pre-charged, fast-charge and higher capacity power banks.

"Our vendors, who also cover the Japan and Hong Kong markets, gave us a heads-up on the spike in demand (before) Pokemon Go even announced its arrival in Singapore, so we were well aware of what to expect."

TOP UP

"The channels are definitely ordering in response to the spike in demand, and we do often get requests for immediate top-up of stock."

A shop attendant at Box Boss said power cable sales have tripled ever since the game was launched.

Online retailer SK IT Solutions, which sells power banks through sites like Qoo10 and Lazada, noticed a 10 per cent increase early this week.

It is all good news for financial planner and avid player Bryan Lim. He never leaves home without a power bank in his bag.

The 25-year-old, who keeps the Pokemon Go app on during his daily commute, sees his phone battery deplete by 40 per cent in just half an hour.

He told The New Paper: "The power bank is really a lifesaver."

Tags: pokemon, APP and Singapore

Hostage taker shot dead

BROKEN: The cracked glass at the ceramic shop where the suspect held a 53-year-old woman hostage.
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Why so scared?

Mourinho says he's not afraid to declare title ambitions, unlike other 'defensive' managers

FOCUSED: 
Jose Mourinho has only one thing on his mind - to win the EPL trophy.
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Have fun with Fantasy League

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