Right on track for Rio
Olympic medal is a realistic target for 'exceptional talent' Schooling, say coaches Lopez and Turner
It just keeps getting better for Joseph Schooling at this Commonwealth Games.
On Thursday, he outsprinted Olympic gold medallist Chad le Clos of South Africa to win his 50-metre butterfly heat in 23.43 seconds, breaking his own national record and equalling the Asian mark in the process.
The 19-year-old swim sensation then clocked 23.48 in the semi-finals yesterday morning (Singapore time) to qualify for this morning's final.
He continued to make waves at the Tollcross Swimming Centre in Glasgow yesterday evening when he broke Danny Yeo's 100m freestyle national record of 50.51.
Swimming in the first leg of the Republic's 4x100m freestyle relay team, Schooling clocked a sizzling 50.05s to eclipse the previous mark set by Yeo at the Singapore National Swimming Championships last June.
POWER OF FOUR
The quartet of Schooling, Yeo, Quah Zheng Wen and Clement Lim made the final after they combined for a time of 3min 22.66sec in Heat 2 to finish as the seventh-fastest qualifiers.
And if Schooling can put together a perfect lap in the 50m butterfly final early this morning - quick start, no breaths, touching the wall nicely at the end of his stroke - he could well become the first Singaporean swimmer to win a medal at a Commonwealth Games.
Regardless of the outcome, his coach Sergio Lopez, national head coach Ian Turner and May Schooling, the swimmer's supportive mother, are confident that the talented speedster is on the right track on the Road to Rio, where he is bidding to become Singapore's first swimmer to win a medal at the Olympics.
"We think coach Sergio Lopez has done very well in developing and bringing Joseph to where he is right now," his mother May told The New Paper yesterday.
"Joseph is special as all along he knows what he wants, sets his own target and pushes himself towards his goals.
"We just give him as much love and support as we can."
Going into the Glasgow Games, Schooling's best bet for a medal had always been in his pet event - the 200m butterfly, in which he finished 10th at last year's World Championships.
Of the nine swimmers who finished ahead of him in Barcelona, only South African le Clos comes from a Commonwealth country.
Lopez told TNP: "I think he has a good chance in the 100m and 200m butterfly.
"He is faster now not because of a new technique, but through five years of hard work.
"He does put himself under too much pressure sometimes, so I told him to relax a little and enjoy being a high-school kid after two or three hours of hard training each day.
"It's all about managing the pressure and I think he's done that well."
Turner agreed and added: "He has progressed in the 12 months since the World Championships and he looks good at the moment.
"We are not surprised he did so well in the 50m butterfly, but his best opportunity of a historic medal may come later in the competition as we know of his solid performances in the 200m butterfly.
"Joseph is an exceptional talent and our job as coaches is to try to squeeze out at least one medal from him here.
"It is a very exciting moment for everyone concerned and he's absolutely on the right track for Rio."
Latest on Joseph
Did Joseph Schooling win Singapore's first-ever swimming medal at the Commonwealth Games this morning (Singapore time)?
Look out for the report on the 50m butterfly final on www.tnp.sg
Tao Li misses out on 100m fly final
It was a mixed bag for the Singapore swim team at the Commonwealth Games yesterday.
The Republic's only Olympic swimming finalist Tao Li missed out on the 100-metre butterfly final as she could only finish as the 10th-fastest semi-finalist with 59.82sec, more than two seconds off her national record of 57.54. Only the top eight progress to the final.
The 24-year-old later withdrew from the 100m backstroke heats to "rest and focus on her 50m fly".
Quah Ting Wen finished 15th with a time of 1:01.48 in the 100m butterfly semi-finals and also failed to qualify for the 50m freestyle semis after clocking 26.90.
Marina Chan also missed out with a time of 26.17, although Amanda Lim did make the final 16 with a 25.81.
Quah Zheng Wen finished 13th in the men's 100m backstroke semi-finals in 56.43s, and completed the 200m freestyle heats in 1:53.88, alongside Danny Yeo, who also missed out on the final with 1:50.71.
There were better news for the relay teams as the women's 4x100m freestyle team, consisting of Amanda, Chan, Lynette Lim and Ting Wen, finished seventh in 3:49.69, in a final where Australia broke the world record with a new mark of 3:30.98.
Meanwhile, led by a record-breaking Joseph Schooling in the first leg, the men's 4x100m freestyle relay team powered their way into the final.
The quartet of Schooling, Danny Yeo, Quah Zheng Wen and Clement Lim clocked 3:22.66, less than a second off the national record of 3:21.74.