The Schooling effect
Young and old line up at Kinokuniya for Olympic champ's book and autograph
A teenage girl trained her phone camera on the crowd at the Kinokuniya book store in Ngee Ann City, hoping to catch a glimpse of her idol through the mass of people.
"Oh, he's cute," she squealed, as her friends made light of the situation.
The podiums may have long been in storage, and his precious gold medal has been safely stowed away, but Singaporeans and permanent residents alike still go gaga over Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, who is back till Friday for a visit.
Call it the Schooling Effect, if you will, after his recently launched philanthropic movement.
The 21-year-old and his parents spent almost 90 minutes at Kinokuniya yesterday to sign copies of his first book, Hello, My Name Is Joseph Schooling, before heading for a private event at the Hugo Boss boutique in the same mall.
Robert Grignani, 38, and his family were the first of 150 people in the Kinokuniya queue to get the Olympic men's 100m fly champion's signature.
"The store opens at 10am, but we were here at 9.45am to get copies of the book and to get our queue numbers," said Grignani, who was there with his wife and three children.
He added that they chanced upon Schooling during his Watsons appearance in Orchard Road on Saturday, and decided they wanted to meet him in person, with eldest son Rayner, 10, a big fan.
"He was so excited last night that he got to bed only about three hours after his bed time," Grignani said.
"He was also up before 8am today and woke the rest of us, too."
After getting his book and swim cap signed, Rayner said shyly: "I really like him because he is fast enough to beat Michael Phelps; I just said, 'Congratulations' to him."
"I am going to show my friends (the swim cap) and keep it in a special place in my cupboard," added the United World College pupil, who is German and a Singapore PR.
Another person in the queue, Soh Beng Tiong, 59, even bought Schooling a bouquet of red and white roses, as well as a box of chocolates for his mother May.
Soh said: "I couldn't go for his homecoming the other time because I was working, so I told myself that I couldn't miss it this time.
"I wanted to thank him for bringing glory to Singapore."
Some 500 people thronged Kinokuniya to catch a glimpse of the swimmer, while about 200 invited guests met him and his entourage in the Hugo Boss boutique, where there is an exhibition of the photographs in his book, taken by ex-TNP photographer Alvin Toh.
Schooling said: "The crowd today is pretty cool. A lot of people have been waiting for a long time, and I am looking forward to meeting new people, seeing some smiles on people's faces and signing some stuff.
"I am excited, it's been a really fun ride so far."
WHERE TO CATCH SCHOOLING
- Today, 1pm: Book-signing at Singapore Press Holdings News Centre at Toa Payoh North.
- Wednesday, 3.30pm: Singapore Swimming Association Legacy Council Exhibition at National Museum.
- Thursday, 4pm: Make-A-Wish foundation event at Kallang Wave Mall.