Schooling not too happy with silver and a place in the history books
The medal was sitting on the table in front of him, a stylised star embossed on its matte silver surface, but at that moment, even the affirmation that he was within touching distance of greatness was nowhere near enough.
Joseph Schooling, you see, is addicted to the W.
Winning, it seems, is written into his DNA.
The 19-year-old had just finished second in the men's 50m butterfly final at the Asian Games, touching home in 23.70 seconds, behind China's Shi Yang, who finished in a Games record time of 23.46. Yang Jang Doo of South Korea was third (23.79).
But there were no wild celebrations, not at the silver medal, his third at the Games after winning gold in the 100m butterfly and bronze in the 200m of the same discipline; not even after he became the first man - or woman - to medal in all three butterfly events at a single Asiad.
Schooling was already fixated on the next winning act.
Facing the region's media in a press conference at the Munhak Park Tae Hwan Aquatics Centre, his eyes were fixated on the television screen at the side of the room.
They lit up as he watched China's Ning Zetao blow Park Tae Hwan and the rest of the field out of the water with a time of 47.70 in the 100m freestyle - a Games record, and the fastest time by any Asian in that discipline.
"He did 47.70, and just smoked everyone. That's insane, impressive," said a beaming Schooling, who looked annoyed when his attention was turned back on to his own performance.
"I hate losing," he spat.
"I mean for 50m, anything can happen, so many things can go wrong… so if it's not gold, deep down I feel a little despondent. Losing just makes me want to go back and work, and train harder.
"(It's the same) no matter what it is, pool, bowling or golf - golf is the worst."
Perhaps the most frustrating of sports, golf requires mastery of both mind and body - and that unpredictable and often exasperating factor of the elements.
In the pool, the athlete is much more in control, a better place for one addicted to winning, where craft can be honed, hours committed.
He will compete in the men's 4x100m medley relay in the final day of the swimming programme here today, but Schooling is already looking ahead to plan his work in the training pool with coach Eddie Reese at the University of Texas.
The Singapore National Olympic Council's Multi-million Dollar Award Programme (MAP) will see him pocket a total of $350,000 from his three-medal performance at these Games.
But that was not what Schooling was thinking about last night.
"I would've liked to have two golds and a bronze, but credit to Shi Yang, he swam a good race. I was behind him from the start, and playing catch up the whole way," said Schooling, who has his eye on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
And by his own admission he will not forget the one who beat him.
"I hate losing," he reiterated. "I want to destroy the person (who beat me) the next time."
SCHOOLING'S MAP EARNINGS
- 100m butterfly (gold): $200,000
- 50m butterfly (silver): $100,000
- 200m butterfly (bronze): $50,000
Glasgow Commonwealth Games
- 100m butterfly (silver): $20,000
3-star Ning set for the big time
Chinese swimmer Ning Zetao declared that a painful knee problem which plagued his teenage years was behind him, after powering to his third gold at the Asian Games.
Ning (above) has shown no signs that he is anything other than 100 per cent fit this week at the Munhak Park Tae Hwan Aquatics Centre in Incheon.
The 21-year-old shaved more than half a second off his 100m freestyle Asian record when he clocked 47.70sec yesterday, the third fastest time in the world this year.
Ning has shone as brightly as Chinese superstar Sun Yang, anchoring China's 4x100m freestyle relay team to victory besides his wins in the 50m free and 100m free.
"I'm very excited with my gold medals. They are very important for me and the team," said Ning yesterday. "I broke the Asian record and I was under 48 seconds, which is very pleasing."
Ning was born with a bone infection in his right knee that left him in agony every time he trained his kicks.
The troubled youth also had a digestion problem which meant he could only eat soft food and could not complete a week of training for several years.
But after dominating the 100 free to add to his 50m title in the same stroke, Ning said he has been free of the knee pain since he stopped growing.
"I had knee problems until I was about 19 years old. It was very painful but it's okay now," the towering Chinese said.
The infection has left Ning with a protruding bone above his shin and a right knee that is noticeably bigger than the left.
"My right knee is a different shape to my left, it's thicker," he said, rolling up his trouser leg.
"It doesn't affect my swimming though because I have got used to it."
His next aim is to get on the podium at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, next year. - AFP.