Schooling beats Phelps and sounds Olympic warning
Singapore's medal hopeful enjoys huge psychological boost ahead of Rio Olympics
In his biggest statement yet, Singapore swimming star Joseph Schooling ousted his childhood idol and the greatest Olympic gold-medal machine in history yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Schooling (above) clocked 51.58sec to beat record 18-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps (51.65) and won the men's 100m butterfly final at the Longhorn Aquatics Elite Invite.
It was at the same venue - the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in the University of Texas - where a 15-year-old Phelps clocked his first world record, in the men's 200m butterfly in 2001.
Records weren't written there yesterday, but Schooling scored a psychological boost with victory over the American, just two months away from the Rio Olympics.
Schooling admitted it "felt great" to get his first win over Phelps, but he noted that the US great was still in hard training before the US trials and not in peak racing form. Phelps will be in at the US trials in Omaha later this month and Rio de Janeiro in August.
Said the 20-year-old: "It was great. My first time racing him was in 2011; five years later, finally I can get one up on him and what better, it's 2016.
"But I've got to be even better in two months."
Desire and talent, along with the unwavering support of parents Colin and May, brought Schooling to the US to study and train, and last year's world championship bronze medallist used sheer willpower to touch home first in yesterday's race.
Phelps, who will turn 31 on June 30, holds the world record for the 100m butterfly at 49.82sec, set in 2009.
Schooling's national record for the event stands at 50.96, which he clocked at the 2015 world championships, and in an interview with US website Swimming World, the Singaporean said he had messed up his race yesterday, despite the win."I felt fine the first 25m; I was trying to find my stroke but I just never found it, so I just put my head down and tried to muscle it more," said the Singaporean, who was third in the heats with 53.40sec.
"It started to hurt the last 20m or 25m, I saw Jack (Conger, who finished third) and Michael coming in, so I was trying to keep my head down and get my hand to the wall.
"I didn't do a good job with my finish - I took like three kicks underwater and one stroke to get to the wall. It was pretty pathetic," said the 2014 Asian Games 100m butterfly champion, who will also be racing in the 200m butterfly today.
Schooling is certain Phelps will be much faster in a couple of months, after the effects of his high-altitude training in Colorado have kicked in - the American also competed and won the men's 100m freestyle before the butterfly race - and the Singaporean would have to improve in the last two months before Rio, as well.
Schooling has qualified for four events at the Olympics - the 100m butterfly and 200m butterfly, as well as the 100m freestyle and 200m freestyle.
In two weeks, he will join up with the national team in Florida for a 14-day training camp, before returning to Texas ahead of the Rio Olympics, which is scheduled from Aug 5 to 21.
Asked by Swimming World if he had set a time target for Rio, Schooling said: "Timing becomes irrelevant at that level. It's all about who can win and right now we just all have to race tough, that's the most important thing."
"The seventh-fastest time in the world for an 'in season' (swim) isn't bad at all. I'm confident of my ability going into this summer," he told The New Paper.
"But we (Phelps and Schooling) are both in different places now, so it matters only in Rio (where we finish)."
SCHOOLING'S SIGNIFICANT MILESTONES
- Won the 100 yard fly with a new US Open record of 44:01sec
- Won the 200 yard fly with a new US Open record of 1min 37.97sec
- Named Big 12 Conference's Men's Swimmer of the Year
- Shared the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Division I Men's Swimmer of the Year award with Ryan Murphy and Caeleb Dressel
FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2015
- Clinched bronze in the men's 100m fly with a new national and Asian record of 50.96sec
- South Afrcian star Chad le Clos won the event in 50.56, while Hungarian great Laszlo Cseh was second with 50.87
SOUTH-EAST ASIA GAMES 2015
- Won all nine events he competed in, including three relays
- Set new Games records in all six individual events he won.
- Won the 100 yard fly in 44.51
- Won the 200 yard fly in 1:39.62
- Named Big 12 Conference's Newcomer of the Year
ASIAN GAMES 2014
- Won men's 100m fly gold in new Games record time of 51.76
- Also clinched silver and bronze in the 50m fly (23.70) and 200m fly (1:57.54), respectively
COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2014
- Clinched silver in the men's 100m fly with 51.69
- Le Clos clinched gold with new Games record of 51.29, while England's Adam Barrett (51.93) was third.
What they say...
Congratulations to Team Singapore swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen! Joseph beat the legendary Michael Phelps in the men's 100m butterfly at a swim meet in Austin. Zheng Wen did well too, finishing second in the 100m butterfly at an Indianopolis swim meet. This is fantastic news and shows how hard they have been training for the Olympics. All the best!
- Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Grace Fu
It really doesn't mean anything at this time because it's not the Olympic Games yet. The one thing Joseph will have in that Olympic Games 100m fly final is that he has gone head to head with Michael Phelps and beaten him before. Not many people have that psychological edge.
- Two-time Olympian and respected local coach, David Lim
To clock 51.5 at this time of the year is very good, regardless of who he beat to win the race. This is especially since he did not taper for it, and it shows that he is on the right track towards the Olympics. Of course, to beat Phelps will be a big confidence booster towards the Olympics.
- Acting national swim coach and two-time Olympian, Gary Tan
As Singaporeans we will take the win, no matter the occasion. After all, how many people can say that they have beaten Michael Phelps? It shows that he has a very positive momentum going (in his Rio preparations), and he and his coach know what he has to do. On our part, we will do whatever we can behind the scenes to provide him and the rest of the team all the support they need..
- Singapore Swimming Association secretary-general and 1984 Olympian Oon Jin Teik