Schooling wins Olympic gold, pays tribute to Phelps
It rang out loud and crisp.
"Gold medallist and Olympic champion, Joseph Schooling."
Never before had those words been uttered at the Olympic Games.
A loud roar went up as Singapore's history-maker strode up the top step to take his bow and receive the medal from countryman Ng Ser Miang, member of the International Olympic Committee.
It rang out loud and crisp on Friday night in Rio.
Never before had the anthem been played at the Olympic Games, and Majulah Singapura was sung proudly as the Republic's flag was raised highest at the aquatics arena.
With a country transfixed, in front of millions watching on TV - and a packed swimming stage in Rio - Singapore's Schooling stunned the world with a blistering race in the men's 100m butterfly, claiming gold in a new Olympic record time of 50.39, ending Michael Phelps' hopes of a record-equaling fourth consecutive triumph in one event.
The 21-year-old broke his previous national record and Asian mark of 50.83, which he set here in the semi-finals.
Joseph Schooling's medal. TNP PHOTO
In a remarkable twist, there was another Olympic first in swimming when Phelps, Chad Le Clos and Laszlo Cseh all finished 51.14, and shared second spot.
With Phelps retiring at the end of this Olympics, Schooling paid tribute to his idol at a standing room only press conference later, when he said: "He's the Greatest. I idolized him and he's the perfect guy to follow, what is it 22, 23 gold medals.
"If it wasn't for Michael, I wouldn't be able to do this."
"A lot of this is because of Michael."
The American phenomenon, who will go for a record 23rd gold medal in the 4x100m individual medley here on Saturday night to end his Olympic career, was equally effusive in his praise for the Singaporean.
"Joe's fast. I've been watching him develop. He's got the talent and ability and I look forward to seeing how he progresses over the next few years."
The ultimate Olympic career is set to come to an end here in Rio, but Schooling's ride still has plenty left in the tank.