National swimmer Joseph Schooling secured his fourth and fifth SEA Games gold for Singapore at the 100m freestyle and heading the 4x200m freestyle relay in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The sports icon who won Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medal, beating swimming legend Michael Phelps during the 100m butterfly at the last Olympic Games in Rio, also clinched gold in his earlier events at the SEA Games: 50m butterfly, 100m butterfly and 4x100m feestyle relay.
However, critics aren’t happy. Detractors have said online that Schooling is moving too slowly during his events, and that he isn’t testing his personal bests during the SEA Games events.
Schooling blasted critics in his response to reporters. He shot back:
“They can say whatever they want.
“My goal is to come here and help the team as best as I can, win gold medals. That’s all I care about at this meet. You can’t always set best times, it’s fine.
“It’s all about me trying to help the team as best as I can and me trying to win as many individual events as I can.”
Schooling beat his own SEA Games record at his first event, the 50m butterfly, clinching gold and setting a new Asian record at 23.06s. His time, however, was a little slower than his personal best for the 50m butterfly – 22.95s which he achieved at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary last month.
The 22-year-old again beat SEA Games records at the 100m butterfly by clocking in at 51.38s. This is the same event in which he won an Olympic gold medal in record time of 50.39s at Rio 2016. He was closer to his Olympic time at the FINA World Championships last month, clocking in at 50.83s then.
Schooling told reporters after winning his pet event that this was a “pretty solid” time for him, adding:
“Coming into this meet, timing wasn’t the goal. It was more of mentoring the younger kids. I’m pleased with the time, even though it was not the best time. I’m happy with the effort I gave.”
In the 100m freestyle, Schooling won in 48.93s, outside the SEA Games record he set in 2015 at the last SEA Games held in Singapore.
As for the relays, Schooling and his team-mates, Darren Lim, Danny Yeo and Quah Zheng Wen smashed 4x100m freestyle relay SEA Games records by coming in at 3m 17.85s – nearly two seconds faster than the previous SEA Games mark of 3m 19.59s.
Schooling’s team won gold by more than six seconds in the 4x200m freestyle relay but did not beat the event record they set at the 2015 SEA Games.