Fans out in full force for Schooling's victory parade
Thousands of Singaporeans came out in full force and lined the streets on Thursday (Aug 18) to celebrate the victory of an Olympic champion.
Our Olympic champion.
The nation's first ever Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling rode in an open-top bus during a four-hour long victory parade which took him from his childhood stamping ground of Marine Parade to the glitzy Orchard Road shopping belt and finally to Raffles City.
The parade was organised to celebrate the 21-year-old's historic achievement when he clinched the 100m butterfly gold medal in Rio on Aug 13.
Schooling has barely had time to breathe since his return, thanks to a jam-packed schedule.
But he concealed his fatigue well throughout the parade, handling the frenzied mob, the wild cheers and the constant attention like the gracious champ he is.
From the moment the journey started at 9.50am from Old Airport Road, Schooling was all-smiles.
He never failed to wave or say his "thanks yous" to the large crowds that had gathered to cheer him on despite the searing heat of the day.
Even students wielding placards and small flags turned up in droves, standing by the side of the road to scream the name of the man who defeated the Olympic's most decorated swimmer Michael Phelps.
And each time he waved, the cheers quickly turned into deafening screams of joy.
After all, it's not every day that an Olympic champion graces you with his presence.
One fan even managed to toss a teddy bear in his direction as the bus rolled past Tanjong Katong Secondary School.
Schooling effortlessly caught it just as a group of students did the dab - a fad inspired by a type of dance that originated from the hip hop scene Atlanta, Georgia - to catch his attention.
Of course, he cheekily "dabbed" right back.
Even curious drivers on the road wanted to be in on the action.
Throughout the parade, several car drivers honked at the bus as the drivers rolled down their windows to catch a glimpse of Schooling and his entourage.
At traffic lights on the route, people would run up alongside the bus on the pavement to snap a picture as a keepsake.
Unfortunately, the day was not without incident.
While travelling towards Parkway Parade, a white Mercedes-Benz - its occupants enthusiastically waving at the bus - had grazed the open-top vehicle as it drove past.
The accident outside Sota. TNP PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
In another incident, as the bus made its way past the School of the Arts (Sota), a black SUV travelling in the neighbouring lane, crashed into the back of a Jaguar.
Thankfully, much of the parade proceeded smoothly.
We look at the highlights at each pit stop.
Pit stop 1: 50A Marine Terrace Market
At Schooling's first stop, everyone rushed forward, wanting a piece of the him.
The moment the bus stopped, supporters crowded around the entrance of the bus, all clamouring to take a picture of the star.
As he stepped off the bus, his security promptly formed a cordon around him.
They hastily ushered him to the hawker centre to have his favourite chye tow kway (fried carrot cake) and milo dinosaur.
Unfortunately, he managed to have only one bite of the dish and a gulp of his drink before being ushered off to the next destination.
He was a man on the move.
For the hawkers though, it was a highlight of their day.
Marine Parade Coffee and Drinks stall owner Tan Toh Huat told The New Paper: "Joseph's parents have been regular customers since he was 13 or 14, and they always brought him along when they came here.
"He's very nice and very friendly, always smiling."
Holding up the cup Schooling drank from, Mr Tan, 65, said: "He always buys milo dinosaur from here - his favourite."
Pit stop 2: Singtel ComCentre Plaza
Joseph Schooling posing in front of the crowd (and showing off his tattoo, at Singtel ComCentre. TNP PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Here, he alighted and addressed the crowd.
"Thank you guys for coming out, you guys are amazing, I love you," said the charming athlete.
"It's hard for the private life, but I didn't do this for myself. I did it for my country, my family, my friends," he added.
For 65-year-old Lim Chui Hai, she has been a fan since last year's South-east Asian Games.
So when she wanted to get her self-designed poster autographed by her hero, she went all out.
The service delivery engineer with Singtel had spent the whole morning designing the poster with her colleague at the Singtel ComCentre Plaza, where Schooling was designated to make an appearance at during his victory parade.
However, despite waiting nearly 1 1/2 hours, she was unable to get his signature because of the sheer number of people in attendance.
Undeterred, Madam Lim managed to squeeze her way through the seemingly-impenetrable crowd from the building to his open-top bus as Schooling was about to take his leave.
There, she managed to persuade officials to help her get his autograph,
Despite all the trouble she went through, a beaming Madam Lim said she would gladly repeat the whole process again.
"I'd be more than happy to do another poster for him to sign after the next Olympics," she said.
The parade then rolled down Orchard Road where even more fans had gathered.
A man dressed in a chef's attire stood out as he stood outside Orchard Central banging on a pot with a metal ladle trying desperately to get Schooling's attention.
But the young man had places to be.
Pit stop 3: Raffles City Shopping Centre
At the last stop, some fans had arrived as early at 8am to score the best spot in the queue to secure an autograph from him during the hour-long signing session.
Madam Doreen Chang and her 12-year-old daughter Thessabel were among those who had arrived more than four hours before Schooling was due to make his appearance there.
Thessabel Chang, 12, and her mother Madam Doreen Chang, were both first in line at Raffles City mall, having arrived at 8am. TNP PHOTO: NOOR ASHIKIN ABDUL RAHMAN
Thessabel, a swimmer herself, had even dressed in her swimming costume complete with a gold medal around her neck.
She held up a bright orange handmade sign, her left cheek painted with the words "I (heart) JS".
The mother-daughter pair was among the lucky hundreds who managed to get their Schooling paraphernalia signed - but they had failed to take a selfie.
Luckily for them, Schooling's best friend and fellow national swimmer Teo Zhen Ren helped them and got them on stage for the selfie.
An elated Madam Chang, a housewife, said: "Bel was very disappointed so now we're both very happy. Yes, (as Schooling has showed us), never give up.
"Zhen Ren was so, so kind and he took us onstage after we told him how we were first in line but did not manage to get a photo. It is very significant, it shows that they are really buddies," she said