Schooling clinches joint-bronze in 100m fly at Worlds
Olympic champion upstaged by American swimmer Caeleb Dressel - whose winning time is second only to Michael Phelps' world record - and 17-year-old Hungarian Kristof Milak
Singapore's first and only Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling will have to wait for at least another two years before he gets another crack at becoming a world champion.
At the Fina World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, early this morning (Singapore time) in Budapest, Hungary, the 22-year-old clocked 50.83 seconds to finish joint-third with Briton James Guy in the 100m butterfly final.
This timing is 0.44sec off his Olympic record of 50.39sec, set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last year, as American Caeleb Dressel won in phenomenal fashion, clocking 49.86sec to come within 0.04sec of compatriot Michael Phelps' world record of 49.82sec set with a supersuit in the 2009 edition.
Local favourite Kristof Milak, 17, took silver with a new world junior record time of 50.62sec.
A little more than half an hour after winning the 50m freestyle final in 21.15sec, Dressel emerged victorious in the 100m fly, before leading the United States to a new world record of 3:19.60 in the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay an hour later.
These three triumphs in about 100 minutes marked a stunning outing for the 20-year-old who has bagged six golds including the 100m free, 4x100m free and mixed medley at this world championships at the Danube Arena.
After the race, Schooling said: "It just wasn't clicking. When you take six months off and only come back in December, January, that's what you are going to get.
"Eddie (Reese, his coach at the University of Texas) has been warning me about this. I thought, 'What the heck is this old guy talking, he's crazy,' but that shows I got to learn the hard way.
"I got my a** kicked. There's no other way to say that. That's pretty unacceptable. It is what it is, hats off to Caeleb, good job and on to the next one."
After taking Olympic gold in sensational fashion, Schooling the hunter has now become the hunted, following the emergence of the intriguing braces-and-tattoos figure of Dressel, as well as the previously unheralded Kristof.
And Schooling has found the going tough in recent races.
Representing the University of Texas, he did not win any individual title at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Championships in March, failing to defend both his 100-yard and 200-yard fly titles and losing to Dressel in the 50-yard free and 100-yard fly.
That did not stop him from eyeing two golds at this World Championships, as well as Michael Phelps' world record time of 49.82sec for the 100m fly set in the 2009 edition.
Schooling did spring off to a good start at this meet when he rewrote his 50m fly Asian record twice, lowering it first by 0.2sec to 23.05sec in the heats before going even faster in 22.93sec in the semi-finals on Monday.
However, his time of 22.95sec in the final was good enough only for fifth position, as Briton Benjamin Proud won the event in 22.75sec on Tuesday.
Schooling then withdrew from the 200m fly to focus on the 100m free but finished only 17th overall in the heats and failed to make the semi-finals, noting that his racing momentum was affected by the extra day's rest.
In this morning's final, he burst out of the blocks first with the fastest reaction time of 0.62sec, but made the turn in fourth position in 23.74sec, 0.43sec behind Dressel.
While he was overtaken by Kristof, Schooling did turn on the afterburners to catch up with the likes of France's Mehdy Metella and Guy to salvage a bronze and match his achievements from Kazan, Russia two years ago.
The scant consolation could be just what Schooling needs, as he said: "Seven guys here with times faster than the silver medallists (51.14sec) at the Olympics, that speaks for itself... That's the push I need, hats off to them."
Meanwhile, fellow national swimmer Quah Zheng Wen also completed his Fina World Championships campaign a day earlier.
In yesterday's 50m breaststroke heats, the 20-year-old clocked 25.58sec to finish ninth in the 10-man Heat 7, and 30th overall.
This means that he did not make the 16-man semi-finals in any of his five events.
Also based in the US, Quah placed 18th in the 100m and 200m fly, as well as the 100m backstroke.
He did set a new national record in the 200m backstroke with a time of 1min 59.49sec, but finished 24th overall.
The freshman at the University of California, Berkeley, refused to use his hectic race schedule as and excuse and said he could improve on managing his splits.
Quah added: "I'm definitely disappointed. I think I could have done a lot of things differently, but I definitely came out of this meet a lot wiser.
"I've just got to look at the positives and try to take away as much as possible away from here and bounce back stronger. I think it is all part of the process, the more I race, the better I become
"I am definitely motivated now to get back to the grind as soon as possible and do well at the SEA Games, hopefully do something better in the 200 fly and prove to myself I can do those times."