Schooling has the form
Former national swimmer David Lim says form is with Schooling but Phelps has experience
Singaporeans, wherever you are this morning at 9am, try to spare half an hour or so because Olympic history could well be made for our little red dot.
Yes, put aside your mobile phones and stop hunting Pokemons, for you could be catching something rarer than a Charizard or Dragonite.
Switch on your televisions and watch with bated breath as Singapore's swim star Joseph Schooling attempts to splash his way into the history books.
The 21-year-old is eyeing an unprecedented Olympic gold medal as he lines up in Lane 4 against his idol and American swim legend Michael Phelps (Lane 2) in the men's 100m butterfly final scheduled for 9.12am at the Olympic Aquatic Stadium in Rio.
Schooling progressed to the final as the fastest qualifier by winning the second semi-final yesterday morning (Singapore time) in a new Asian and national record of 50.83 seconds.
This is also the fastest time in the 100m butterfly this year and the first time a Singaporean man has made an Olympic swimming final.
Earlier in the day, the University of Texas undergraduate had also finished top of the 43-man heats in 51.41 without breaking sweat.
With such form and fitness, former national swimmer David Lim feels Schooling has "a very high chance" of medalling, and even predicted "it will be 50-50 between Joe and Phelps for the gold medal".
"There is definitely every reason to feel excited for Joe, who is on the brink of creating amazing history," the 49-year-old founder of Swimfast Aquatic Club told The New Paper.
"In hindsight, his decision to swim in the 100m freestyle and drop the 200m butterfly was a good move, although it probably didn't really matter which one he dropped.
"The term 'warm-up' may have been taken out of context by some, and I feel it is important Joe swam in another event before this main one to get a feel of the water and get rid of any nerves. In that sense, it was a 'warm-up' in a mental sense rather than a physical one.
"In any case, he has set new national records in both the 100m free and 100m fly, and is in great form going into the 100m fly final, so it is a successful strategy."
Lim, a two-time Olympian in 1984 and 1988, sized up Schooling's main rivals for the final.
The main man standing in the Singaporean's way is none other than Phelps, who has already won four times in Rio, taking his Olympic tally to 22 gold medals.
The American is also the world-record holder in the 100m fly with a time of 49.82 set in 2009 during the era of the now-banned polyurethane and non-textile suits.
"Phelps is 31 and will definitely feel the effects of his six-event programme. But he can never be written off," said Lim.
"Look at the way he maximised his huge armspan to come back from being last at the turn to finish just 0.01sec behind Hungarian Laszlo Cseh in the first semi-final and qualifying for the final.
"He can switch it on when it matters and he will be the biggest obstacle in Joe's way."
Swimming beside Schooling in Lane 5 is South African Chad le Clos, who is the other swimmer besides Phelps to have a better personal best than Schooling.
The 24-year-old le Clos clocked 50.56 to win the 100m fly gold at last year's world championships. He was also the silver medallist in this event behind Phelps at London 2012.
"Le Clos looked a bit off at this Olympics. Even though he won silver in the men's 200m freestyle final, he is more of a 200m flyer. But, after beating Phelps to the gold medal at London 2012, he finished only fourth this year," said Lim.
"Le Clos definitely has what it takes to win, but I just feel he has faded somewhat recently."
As for Hungarian Laszlo Cseh, Lim said: "Cseh won the first and slower semi-final in 51.57, but he looked so fatigued. At his age (30), I'm not sure he can recover fully in time for the final."
Lim feels that Schooling can go even faster in the final.
He said: "In the semi-finals, his last touch was long and he couldn't take another stroke, so I definitely believe a faster time is within him.
"And he will need it because it looks like the gold medal-winning time will be below 50.83. But Joe is definitely the man to beat."
Singaporeans in action
- Men's 100m butterfly final: Joseph Schooling - 9.12am.
- Women's singles: Liang Xiaoyu v Delphine Lansac - 8.35pm.
- Women's team: Feng Tian Wei, Yu Mengyu and Zhou Yihan - 9.00pm.
- Mixed Nacra 17 (multihull): Justin Liu and Denise Lim - From 12.05am.
- Men's Laser: Colin Cheng - From 12.05am.
- Women's 49erFX: Griselda Khng and Sara Tan - From 12.05am.
- Women's Laser Radial: Elizabeth Yin - From 12.15am.
- Men's singles: Derek Wong v Lee Chong Wei - 7.55pm.
- Women's singles: Liang Xiaoyu v Sung Ji Hyun - 8.40pm.