Schoolings engage communications and marketing professional

Olympic champion now has someone to help with deals like sponsorship and appearance requests

RIGHT-HAND MAN: Former SSA marketing and communications director Mohd Hafidz Ja'afar (in red, in front) has been helping Joseph Schooling (in white) and his family manage matters for about a year now, on top of his SSA duties.

Since Joseph Schooling's historic gold medal triumph at the Rio Olympics last month, the Singapore swimming star and his family have been inundated with requests from all quarters.

Companies want to approach him and his family with gifts or offers, while various organisations have asked for the Schoolings to make appearances at their events.

Numerous media outlets, local and international, want to interview the family.

The Schooling family - dad Colin, mum May and Joseph - yesterday announced that they have appointed former Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) marketing and communications director Mohd Hafidz Ja'afar to handle all such matters.

The 33-year-old, who left the SSA last week, was officially appointed yesterday and will hold a similar marketing and communications role for the family, as he did with the association.

Contacted by The New Paper yesterday, Colin Schooling said: "Since the Olympics, we have been getting requests from (potential) sponsors and for interviews, and May and I simply have no patience, stamina and time to manage all of this.

"Hafidz has been doing this for us for a while now; he does a good job, he is meticulous in his planning and we trust him and, with Joseph's success, it now requires someone to do this full-time."

"With him on board, May and I can now focus on our business which we have neglected for a while now," added the 68-year-old businessman.

Hafidz expressed pride over being selected to do the job.

"I have been helping Joseph and his family for about a year now, on top of my SSA duties," he told TNP.

"I have been with the association for about two years now and was looking at my options after this Olympic cycle."

PROMOTIONAL OFFERS

Several companies have used Joseph's image and name for their own promotional offers in the wake of his stunning victory in the men's 100m butterfly in Rio last month, while others are keen to offer him sponsorships and freebies.

Schooling, an undergraduate at the University of Texas who is back in Austin, will not be able to accept such offers as it would impact his amateur status and thus his eligibility to compete in collegiate competitions in the US.

Reaching out to these organisations will be part of Hafidz's responsibility and he said: "Perhaps some companies here are not experienced in these matters, so I hope to educate them on how to approach this."

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Bridget Jones is back

Renee Zellweger on reprising her role as the comedic singleton, being an ageing actress, and how she feels 'very awkward' all the time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXJlbzof3Qg
EMPOWERING: Renee Zellweger says the hurtful comments she received about her looks after she showed up at the 21st annual ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards in 2014 was an ‘empowering’ experience.

Everybody's favourite singleton Bridget Jones is back, this time in her 40s, having given up the cigarettes, cut down on the chardonnay, stopped obsessing about her weight and replaced the self-help books with political ones.

Oh, and she's pregnant.

And she doesn't know who the father is.

In romantic comedy Bridget Jones's Baby, the third iteration of the beloved British page-to-screen character that comes 12 years after the sequel The Edge Of Reason, Renee Zellweger reprises her famed role as the eternally optimistic, funny woman whose greatest fear is to end up alone.

The 47-year-old US actress, who has been in a relationship with US blues musician Doyle Bramhall II since 2012, describes Bridget as "perfectly imperfect, and that's why people relate to her".

Colin Firth is back as Mark Darcy, and there's a new love interest in Patrick Dempsey.

Unfortunately, Hugh Grant, who played the charming but caddish third party Daniel Cleaver in the two previous movies, declined to return.

Emma Thompson, who plays a supporting role, also co-wrote Bridget Jones's Baby, which opens here tomorrow.

After six years away from the limelight, perhaps what has overshadowed the movie so far are those persistent headlines about rumoured cosmetic surgery enhancements to Zellweger's dramatically altered face, something she denied in a Huffington Post article entitled "We Can Do Better", addressing the shaming of ageing movie actresses.

At the Claridge's hotel in London though, she somehow doesn't look that much different from the Zellweger of six years ago, though there are visible wrinkles and the roundness of her younger visage has disappeared.

Were you at all emotionally affected by the bad photo of you from two years ago at ELLE magazine's Women In Hollywood Awards that started the talk about your changing appearance?

I think those experiences are empowering. I think that when something challenges your character in such a substantial way, it enables a person to know herself better. And with that comes a whole lot of openness and enthusiasm about what's next with no fear.

My friend had been diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease) the month before and I had been living with her at her house.

And I went to that event because she wanted to go and be on the red carpet with me so that she could show that she wasn't being defeated by this terrible disease. And that's what I was thinking about that day. I wasn't thinking about what I looked like or what people thought.

LOVE TRIANGLE: (Above, left to right) Bridget Jones’s Baby co-stars Patrick Dempsey, Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth at their film’s premiere in Berlin. PHOTO: AFP

It's difficult for actresses in the public eye to age without public comment. Could you say something about that?

I think a woman only gets more interesting as she gets older. Youth and superficial beauty has its place and is understandably celebrated to a certain degree. But it's fleeting and it's only a tiny moment in your life.

As you mature, you are becoming more of who you are supposed to be and you are becoming the best version of yourself.

And at a certain point, that is more interesting than physical beauty, especially in this medium.

The stories that actresses tell as they get older are so much more interesting than the roles of the ingenue, in my opinion.

Speaking as an actress, I don't want to stay the same. I have done that and I am curious about what is next.

I want to tell stories about women who are sharing aspects of my life experience or who have been there, and I want to tell stories that women relate to in all stages of their life experiences.

And it's a different kind of beauty, a more powerful beauty, a more valuable beauty, in my opinion.

What have you been up to in the time you were away?

I wanted to keep some promises that I made to myself a very long time ago and I did. I spent a lot of time with my parents, my niece and nephew and my family who live on the East Coast.

I did a lot of travelling. We went to my mother's family reunion in Norway. I went to Liberia for a charity organisation here which advocates for women. We went to Monrovia and then out into the countryside.

The idea was to chronicle the successes of the women despite whatever hardship and advocating for women, and making a law that children of a certain age go to school and protecting them from rape.

It left an impression on me that will stay with me throughout my life.

How did you feel about coming back in Bridget Jones's Baby?

It was a little scary. I was nervous because I love this character and I didn't want to disappoint anybody, so I always feel a slight twinge of impostor syndrome whenever I go to work... I felt, like 'Oh, this time I am going to be discovered and fired'. Getting past that was interesting and joyful.

Tell us more about the pregnancy prosthetic.

It was time-consuming. It took a really long time to put on and more importantly, take off. So I wasn't drinking a lot of water during the day because everyone would have to wait 20 minutes for me to come back.

Have you ever felt as awkward and clumsy as Bridget?

I am always like Bridget Jones. If you could only know my inner dialogue when we are out at these events.

There's always something strange that happens that nobody knows about. The dress doesn't fit or the zipper broke and it's sewn up. My shoe breaks and then you go on stage and present at the Oscars anyway. I mean, there's a million silly things.

I am a really private person, so lots of the public attention feels unnatural to me and so I feel very awkward. All the time.

Mr Darcy Vs McDreamy

Who's the most suitable suitor for Bridget in Bridget Jones's Baby: Mr Darcy or McDreamy?

https://youtu.be/WA42PgNwPik

Bridget Jones is back, and is this time 100 per cent more pregnant. The question is, which of her two boyfriends would make the better father and husband? Is it the uptight Mark Darcy (Colin Firth)? Or the snazzy Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey)? "Mr Darcy" or "McDreamy"? Decisions, decisions...


ACTOR POWERS

One of the most well-respected thesps in the world, English actor Firth, 56, won an Oscar for 2010's The King's Speech, and has excelled in everything from light comedies (Love Actually) to action flicks (Kingsman: The Secret Service). The 1995 TV period drama Pride And Prejudice, where he played the original Mr Darcy, made him the world's most lusted-after Brit.

US actor Dempsey, 50, attracted legions of female fans as neurosurgeon Dr Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd in the long-running TV medical drama Grey's Anatomy, but his forays into film have been less successful. He was fine in the fanciful Enchanted, but flopped in the forgettable Made Of Honour. He's also been in a supporting role in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.

ROUND ONE: MR DARCY

Firth is an icon, Dempsey is a jobber.


CHARACTER POWERS

A British human rights lawyer with a strong commitment to the common good, Mark Darcy is super boring. But he's SO boring he's actually interesting. Humourless, conservative and reserved to a fault, he keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering just how uptight he can be.

Qwant is a flashy US mathematician who earned fame and fortune with his dating website, but don't hold his success against him. He's a pretty classy and charming guy who's more or less willing to do right by Bridget.

ROUND TWO: MCDREAMY

Fun and flirty, Qwant is the much more engaging presence.


HANDSOMENESS POWERS

To put it simply, Firth's the perfect-looking man. Tall but not gangly. Pretty but still masculine. Stylish but not flamboyant. He looks like James Bond's sensitive older brother.

With his killer smile and killer stubble, Dempsey's a lady killer extraordinaire. He's got a cool nerd vibe that wins over both the hearts and minds of the gals.

ROUND THREE: MR DARCY

Firth in a suit? Sorry, guys. No one else stands a chance.


THE WINNER: MR DARCY

Anyone with even an ounce of oestrogen in her body understands at a cellular level that Mr Darcy is the guy you play house with.

 

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Crossover star search

With Pistorious gone, likes of Rehm and Baka catch the eye at Paralympics

SHINING STAR: German long jumper Markus Rehm's (above) personal best distance of 8.40m would have beaten the United States' Jeff Henderson's 8.38m when he won Olympic gold in Rio last month.

Oscar Pistorius is gone and there's been no replacement for the first athlete to compete in both the Paralympics and Olympics.

But it's probably only a matter of time. Disgraced after his conviction in the murder of his girlfriend in South Africa, Pistorius is absent in every sense from the Rio Paralympics.

New Zealander Liam Malone even smashed his 200m record on Monday, running on a similar set of carbon-fibre blades to those that "blade runner" Pistorius made so famous.

But, with athletes pushing at the boundaries of what is disabled sport and what is able-bodied sport, Pistorius' revolution certainly hasn't gone away.

The leader in the race to become the second person to shift between the Paralympics and Olympics is German long jumper Markus Rehm.

Rehm, who has one leg and wears a blade on the other, has a personal best distance of 8.40m, which would have beaten the 8.38m of the United States' Jeff Henderson when he won Olympic gold in Rio this August.

Rehm fought to be included in the Rio Games, but was rejected by the world athletics' governing body, the IAAF, on the grounds that his blade may give him an unfair advantage over someone with two legs.

He is still hoping for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

"My goal was to compete at the Olympics and I'd love to compete there even without the ranking because I'm a proper Olympian and this is my main event here," he said, after competing in the 4x100m relay in Rio.

"I just would love to use a bigger platform," he said.

"After the Paralympic Games in Rio, I'm going to continue talking to the IAAF to find a solution to compete in London 2017, the next Championship... It would be great to represent our sport to many more people and show the world that we are very good athletes and we don't have to hide behind Olympic athletes."

Another athlete catching attention for crossover potential is Algeria's Abdellatif Baka, who ran the 1,500m in the T3 category for impaired vision, winning with a time of 3:48.29sec that would also have given him Olympic gold.

Pistorius' downfall has been as public and spectacular as his rise.

Seven months after competing in the London Games he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, shooting through the door of the bathroom where she was hiding. He insisted he had believed he was firing at an intruder, but was eventually convicted of murdering Steenkamp.

PISTORIUS IS MISSED

In Rio, which could have been his chance to cement himself in the history books, he has been all but forgotten.

However, Arnie Fourie, a single amputee South African Paralympian, says his legacy hangs over the Games.

"Oscar is obviously missed. I mean, what he has done for the sport not only in our country but also for the world - what he's done no one can take that away from him," he said.

"There's room for new people to step up."

Peruvian soldier and amputee Jose Luis Casas, who competes in the 200m and 400m, says he also wishes things had turned out differently.

"I'd have liked to compete against him. We miss him. Pistorius did things that have nothing to do with sport, but he also opened the door for para-athletes like me," he said.

Rehm says it's time to move on from Pistorius.

"I want to write a new chapter," he said.

"I want to bring the Olympics and Paralympics closer."

- AFP.

ONE FM food fight

What makes ONE FM DJs go 'mmm'? They slug it out with their favourite culinary discoveries of the week

Prawn noodles from Wah kee Big Prawn Noodles
Gyoza with mentaiko miso from Gyoza-Ya

WINNER!

Shan Wee

The Escape Plan with Shan and Cheryl

Weekdays 4pm to 8pm

"The delicious Espetada ($19.90) with coleslaw made me feel like a spicy carb-free saint."

Nando's

163, Tanglin Road, #01-14/15, Tanglin Mall


Andre Hoeden

ONE FM's #1 Breakfast Show

Weekdays 6am to 10am

"The soup is 'shiokness' to the level 99. The sambal is cooked to perfection and one can never have too much chilli. Those three juicy prawns also come with a juicy price tag of $10. I've been coming here for years and highly recommend it."

Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodles
41A, Cambridge Road, #01-15,

Pek Kio Market and Food Centre


Elliott Danker

ONE FM's #1 Breakfast Show

Weekdays 6am to 10am

"If you want to go for something simple, then the chicken sandwich ($19.95) is light and comes with a salad too. It's a great place to go to for lunch and you can wash that burger down with a nice pint of beer."

Jerry's BBQ and Grill

92, Club Street


Shaun Tupaz

ONE FM's #1 Breakfast Show

Weekdays 6am to 10am

"You will never believe this chocolate brownie ($12) is vegan. Healthy, affordable and worth it."

Brownice Italian Vegan Ice Cream & Kitchen

53, East Coast Road


Cheryl Miles

The Escape Plan with Shan and Cheryl

Weekdays 4pm to 8pm

"This place is where I go to get my steamboat fix because of my favourite dish, the Four Treasure Ball Platter ($14). I would have eaten all of it, but I had to be civil and share it with my two other friends. Total bill for nine dishes and two kinds of soup was $164 - it's a bit pricey, but they use premium ingredients. I wish they didn't charge $2.50 per head for the dipping sauce, though."

Imperial Treasure Steamboat Restaurant

2, Orchard Turn, #04-09/10, ION Orchard


Melody Chen

No Repeat Workday

Weekdays 1pm to 4pm

"They have the best fried gyoza in my book, such as these pan-fried dumplings with mentaiko miso ($8.80). Order the garlic fried rice as well for a satisfying meal."

Gyoza-Ya

260, Orchard Road, #B1-02A, Robinsons Orchard


Jill Lim

No Repeat Workday

Weekdays 10am to 1pm

"Pretty steep for a hipster cafe, but the portions are beyond generous so this pan-seared salmon ($28) is worth the higher price."

The Malayan Council

22, Dunlop Street

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