Schooling will be ready for Olympic battle
Phelps goes fast, but SSA chief says it's about peaking at the right time
Joseph Schooling has been billed as Singapore's great hope for an Olympic medal this year, with even gold touted as a possibility by some in his specialist event, the 200m butterfly.
American ace Michael Phelps qualified for the Rio Games for a fifth time when he won the 200m butterfly at the US Olympic trials yesterday morning (Singapore time), touching the wall in 1min 54.84sec.
Schooling's personal best is 1:55.73, the national record he set at last year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil.
Based on times and pedigree, Phelps, the record 18-time Olympic gold medallist, will be the favourite at the Rio Games, scheduled from Aug 5 to 21, with South Africa's defending champion Chad le Clos and Hungary's Laszlo Cesh his most dangerous rivals.
But, Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) president Lee Kok Choy believes Schooling, studying at the University of Texas, will also be in the mix.
"The plan is for him to peak at the Olympics," said Lee, when asked by The New Paper about Schooling's progress.
"Now he is getting into his competitive preparation state and this involves him swimming through meets without resting or shaving.
"It's different for the US guys because they have to peak twice, once to qualify and once at the Olympics, so that's the reality of the situation.
"The next time you see Joseph at his best will be at the Olympics and that will be because it's intentional."
In the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) meet in March, Schooling retained his 100-yard and 200-yard butterfly titles, setting new US Open records for both.
The 21-year-old is into his final preparations for the Rio Games and is full of confidence.
With just over a month left before the Olympics get underway, Lee, who spoke after the SSA annual general meeting last night, expressed optimism that the national swim team will deliver a strong performance at the Rio Games.
"Right now, our Olympic team are training in the United States and, later on, we will continue our training in South America," he said.
"They're on track and doing quite well in terms of their training, and we're looking forward to good results in Rio."
Meanwhile, four new faces were officially introduced following the AGM at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last night.
Samson Tan and Wilson Ang were elected as vice-president (water polo) and assistant secretary general (water polo), respectively, ousting incumbents Samuel Wong and Jerome Lau.
Tan Yew Khuan was installed as treasurer and Dr Bervyn Lee was introduced as assistant secretary general (swimming), with both vacancies not being contested after predecessors, Sylvia Peh and Ang Peng Wee respectively, stepped down after serving a maximum of four terms.
There is still one crucial vacancy the SSA needs to fill, with national coach Sergio Lopez set to depart after the Olympics.
However, Lee remained coy when asked if the executive committee had already identified a successor to the Spaniard.
"We're still in the process of making the decision," the 64-year-old said.
"Many stakeholders are to be consulted while we also have to look at all alternative and available solutions.
"The process has many various possibilities so, at this point, we can't disclose any details as we haven't finalised a decision."
Franklin silences the doubters
Missy Franklin booked her ticket to the Rio Games yesterday morning (Singapore time), silencing those sceptics who were starting to wonder if the Golden Girl of London would be left out in the cold.
Franklin rallied to seize second place behind freestyle phenomenon Katie Ledecky in the 200m free at the US Olympic Swimming Trials, shrugging off the bitter disappointment of a seventh-placed finish in the 100m backstroke the day before.
"That's probably the most proud race I've ever swam in my entire career, coming back from such a loss and telling myself that I still have it in me to do whatever I believe I can do," Franklin said.
She was a breakout star in London, an effervescent teen who won gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke and in two relays.
She shone again at the 2013 world championships, before a slide set in. - AFP.