Schooling's got a packed schedule but he's game to give back
Book signings, victory parades, fan meets, guest appearances - the list goes on for Singapore swim star Joseph Schooling.
Life took a majestic turn for national swimmer after 50.39sec of his 100m butterfly race at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in August.
Schooling became Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist with a stunning swim, and on his second time back to the Republic, the University of Texas undergraduate is once again facing a packed itinerary over the next few days.
The 21-year-old, who arrived home on Friday morning, has returned primarily for the Singapore Swimming Association golf fund-raiser on Tuesday, but he has events scheduled right through the course of the week, and sometimes two in a day.
"It's definitely not what it used to be," he told The New Paper at The Istana yesterday during the President's Tea Reception for Team Singapore Olympians and Paralympians.
"It is physically tiring but at the same time, I appreciate everything that has happened (since the win) and every time I come back, I mentally prepare myself and I know that it is work.
"But with the work, there are also privileges, like today.
"It is not everyday that someone gets the opportunity to come by The Istana and be hosted by the President."
LIGHT MOMENT: Swimmers Quah Zheng Wen (second from left) and Joseph Schooling share their Rio experiences with Presiednt Tony Tan Keng Yam and First Lady Mary Tan. TNP PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
President Tony Tan Keng Yam congratulated the Singaporean contingent, which included the likes of double Paralympic champion Yip Pin Xiu and Paralympic bronze medallist Theresa Goh, two swimmers, who like Schooling, made waves in Rio.
Schooling, who made his first public appearance at Ngee Ann City earlier yesterday afternoon as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, said: "Even though I do miss having some private time when I'm home, it is for reasons like this that I don't mind being tied up. Even if it meant I helped just one person.
"At the end of the day, sacrificing my private time to inspire other people is a small price to pay and I am very fortunate and appreciative of the fact that I am able to do that."
With Schooling at The Istana were his teammates, swimming siblings Quah Ting Wen and younger brother Quah Zheng Wen.
Zheng Wen took the stage during the reception where he shared his experience leading up to and at the Olympics this year.
He finished 10th overall in the 200m butterfly to just miss out on the final.
He clocked 1min 56.11sec in the first semi-final and only the top eight progressed to the final.
He swam 1:56.01 in the afternoon heats, which was also a new personal best for him.
"I came in 10th and I won't pad it up. It was pretty brutal for me," he said. "To have come that close and miss it (the final); it's like trying to catch smoke with your bare hands.
"To know that you had it only to let it slip away," he said.
The 20-year-old, who is gunning for a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, added: "This only makes me look forward to Tokyo 2020 and I'm really excited and looking forward to see what Team Singapore can do there... we have a lot of potential."
Olympic champ gets busy
He dabbled in a bit of golf on Friday, hours after he arrived home from Houston, Texas, where he's been busy studying at university and training, with the world championships scheduled in Budapest next July.
Yesterday, Singapore's swimming superstar Joseph Schooling officially started a busy week when he launched the Watsons Dream Tree initiative, which is aimed at supporting those with dreams and passion to come forward and share with members of the community, and be a force for change.
Members of the public can pen their wishes on tree props set up outside selected Watsons stores.
WISH CAME TRUE: Bryan Liu, 11, one of the five children with life-threatening illnesses from Make-A-Wish Foundation Singapore, got his wish fulfilled when he met Joseph Schooling in person at the launch of Watsons Dream Tree Initiative. PHOTO COURTESY OF WATSONS SINGAPORE
Watsons also donated $5,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation Singapore (MAWF), a cause supported by the 21-year-old swim sensation, as part of the launch.
Schooling, Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist when he won the 100m butterfly at the Rio Games in August, joined Watsons Singapore to launch the initiative.
Five children, aged nine to 15, from the MAWF were chosen to kick off the initiative ahead of Christmas.
It was a dream come true for the children to meet Schooling, and nine-year-old Raphael Lim, said: "I am very happy to be able to meet Joseph Schooling today. His victory has inspired me to pursue my own hopes and dreams!"
A crowd of around a 100 people turned up to see their hero and Schooling was happy to witness the excitement and enthusiasm.
"Dreams do come true if one believes in them," he said. "I'm blessed and thankful that I can accomplish the things I dreamt of as a little kid. Everyone should have the opportunity to realise their dreams, and I am very happy to be able to work with Make-A-Wish Foundation Singapore and Watsons Singapore to help grant wishes of children who are faced with life-threatening illnesses."