Joseph Schooling is Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medallist. The 21-year-old swimmer clinched his gold medal in the 100m butterfly event in style, out-pacing childhood idol Michael Phelps and smashing three records (the national, Asian and Olympic) in his final race at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The butterfly specialist has constantly delivered in his pet event on the world stage. He has a 2014 Asian Games gold medal, a 2014 Commonwealth Games silver and a bronze from the 2015 World Championships. All three were won in the 100m butterfly event.
In Rio, Joseph also made the semi-final of another event, the 100m freestyle. His performance at the 2016 Olympics – his second Olympic outing – rewrote the unfortunate events from the first. In 2012, just before his 200m butterfly swim, regulations ruled out his swim cap and goggles. The swimmer dove into the pool with neither.
Joseph has been a rising star nationally and regionally. He has accumulated 17 gold medals so far from three editions of the Southeast Asian Games.
The champion’s journey to success began from a young age, when he was inspired by grand-uncle Lloyd Valberg, incidentally Singapore’s first Olympian. Determined to excel in his sport, Joseph would wake his father up to take him to the pool early in the morning to train. He moved to the United States to pursue his swimming dreams at the age of 14. The University of Texas student now trains under two-time US Olympic head coach Eddie Reese.