Schooling eyes two golds at World Championships in Budapest
Olympic champion targets 50m and 100m fly, aims to be first Singaporean to win at world championships
The tattoo on Joseph Schooling's left shoulder serves more than just aesthetic purposes, it is also a challenge to his rivals.
It is a silhouette of the Longhorn - a nod to the University of Texas where he studies now - and is accompanied by four words under it: "Come and take it."
The phrase originates from an 1835 tale, during the Texan Revolution, whereby Texan settlers refused to return a cannon that was gifted by the Mexicans. Instead the settlers hoisted a flag with those words.
The piece of American history has found a modern parallel, in the latest chapter of Schooling's revolution.
While he was by no means gifted an Olympic gold medal in the men's 100m butterfly in Rio last August, opponents near and far are aiming to snatch his crown - that of being the top 100m butterfly swimmer - at the upcoming World Championships in Budapest.
Chad le Clos (South Africa), Laszlo Cseh (Hungary) and Li Zhuhao (China) are well within Schooling's radar, but a new name has popped up of late - Caeleb Dressel.
It was the same American swimmer who dethroned the Singaporean in the 100 yard fly at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Finals in March and who clocked 50.87sec in the 100m fly - this season's fastest time - at the US Summer Nationals last week.
Schooling, by contrast, is 13th in the world this year with his season-best time of 51.82sec.
But, Singapore's butterfly king is relishing the challenges that are coming his way.
"The 50m fly is a crap shoot, and you never know what's going to happen, something could go wrong and things could change," he said in an teleconference from Texas yesterday.
"I'm confident that I won't make these mistakes and that I can win both (50m and 100m fly). I'm confident of winning."
On Dressel's challenge, Schooling added: "He wants to beat me and I want to beat him. It's great motivation for me.
"They (le Clos, Cseh and Dressel) are all good rivals, it's going to be a fight for sure and I'm looking out for that.
"I don't like things being given to me and I like the fight."
Other than the 50m and 100m fly, Schooling will also compete in the 200m fly and the 100m freestyle, as he aims to win Singapore's first title at the world championships. At the last Worlds in 2015, he took a bronze in the men's 100m fly.
In an exclusive interview with The New Paper last month, Schooling said he had already bounced back from his below-par performances at the NCAAs this year, when he failed to win an individual title, later acknowledging that post-Olympic hangover as the main reason.
Yesterday, he reiterated that he is keeping his eye on the ball.
Schooling said: "I am at a completely different level than I was at NCAAs... I'm tired of feeling sloppy, tired of losing, and I want to do something about it.
"I know that I want to win, and I got to put in a lot of work, and that's what happened."
Into his second week of taper, he will compete in the Southern Zone Sectionals in Texas from today to Sunday, and then fly to Croatia for his final training phase before the world championships from July 14-30.
Schooling, along with Singapore teammate Quah Zheng Wen, will spend about a week in Croatia before hopping over to Budapest, where he hopes to make history again.
He said: "I am in a good spot of accomplishing that (another historic sporting moment for Singapore). Now I am just trying to carry my momentum through and prepare as well as I can."