Joseph Schooling bags sixth Sportsman of the Year award
Star swimmer bags Sportsman of the Year gong and is hungry for more
Just as he created history at Rio 2016, Olympic swimming champion Joseph Schooling wrote a new chapter in Singapore sports by picking up a historic sixth Sportsman of the Year gong at the Singapore Sports Awards at Orchard Hotel last night.
But the 23-year-old insists he is as hungry as ever to prove himself. This is because he has been stopping to smell the roses a little more, and take stock of his achievements as a way to spur himself to get even better.
Looking at the trophy clasped in his hands, Schooling told The Straits Times: "Yeah, recently, I've been doing more of that.
"It's not to wander around in the past or things like that, but more so to appreciate the milestones along the way.
"Too many times we get caught up with what we are doing in the present moment. That's important, but you also need to appreciate what has happened in the past and how you've got there.
"You have to appreciate marquees and milestones if you want longevity and to perform better in the future.
"If not, you win and you're just like, 'Eh, it's another award. Six times, cool, bye. Go home, sleep'. You can't. You've got to appreciate it."
Schooling first won the Sportsman award in 2012, and then another five straight times from 2015 to 2019. There was no winner in 2013.
Only two athletes - swimming great Patricia Chan (1968-72) and table tennis star Li Jiawei (2002-06) - have won the main accolade five times.
Schooling, the reigning Olympic 100m butterfly champion, won the 50m and 100m fly titles at the Asian Games in Indonesia last August, along with two bronzes in the relays.
He was nominated alongside now-retired paddler Gao Ning and pencak silat world champion Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin.
Said Schooling: "It feels better every single year, honestly. Gao Ning and Farhan are both amazing athletes, and you can never tell in these scenarios.
"I had my head down the entire time, hoping to hear my name being called and I'm very happy and humbled to hear it.
"This will spur me to train even harder and ground me a bit more, too."
While Schooling relished his sixth win, newly minted Sportswoman Martina Lindsay Veloso, 19, revelled in her first.
The shooter won two golds in the 10m air rifle and 50m prone rifle events at the Commonwealth Games, and also set a junior world record in the 50m three-position rifle women's event last May.
She beat Roanne Ho (swimming), Nurzuhairah Mohd Yazid (silat) and Vera Tan (wushu) to the award.
Veloso, who was the Sportsgirl of the Year in 2015, said that she felt the other nominated athletes were "on a par" with her.
"My heart was beating really, really fast because before that, I was also nominated in the Sportsgirl Team of the Year award (with Ho Xiu Yi and Adele Tan) but did not win," she said.
"So even now, it hasn't really sunk in. It's really exciting."
Meanwhile, pencak silat was a big winner with Sheik Alau'ddin landing the Coach award, Hazim Mohd Yusli winning the Sportsboy gong, and the artistic doubles pair of Nur Azlyana Ismail and Nurhanishah Shahrudin getting the Team (Event) award for their gold-medal performances at December's World Championships on home ground.
SINGAPORE SPORTS AWARDS: ROLL OF HONOUR*
- SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR
Joseph Schooling (swimming)
- SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
Martina Veloso (shooting)
- SPORTSBOY OF THE YEAR
Hazim Mohd Yusli (silat)
- SPORTSGIRL OF THE YEAR
Constance Lien (jiu-jitsu)
- COACH OF THE YEAR
Sheik Alau'ddin (silat)
- TEAM OF THE YEAR (TEAM SPORT)
Men's floorball team
- TEAM OF THE YEAR (EVENT)
Nur Azlyana Ismail & Nurhanishah Shahrudin (silat)
- SPORTSBOY/SPORTSGIRL TEAM OF THE YEAR (EVENT)
Choo Yi Xuan/Kyra Poh (indoor diving)
- SPORTS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
Dilenjit Singh (The New Paper)
- BEST SPORTS PHOTO OF THE YEAR
Lim Weixiang for his photo of netballer Toh Kai Wei at the Asian Netball Championship