What did Joe just do?

Joseph Schooling did a lot more than just win a historic gold in Brazil. PHOTO Team Singapore


HE WON Singapore’s first Olympic gold, ever.

He won it in a Games record in the men’s 100m fly.

He beat three of the best men’s swimmers, including Michael Phelps.

Joe inspired a nation. We felt it in his 100m swim to the wall this morning.

All of this we now know. It makes for good reading that will be relished, cherished and read over and over again by his growing legion of Singapore and international fans.

But Joe did a lot more and it is beginning to sink in.

His Rio de Janeiro swim reminds us that size is not an obstacle to achieving big things. A small talent pool can also no longer be used as an excuse that Singaporeans cannot be world champions.

Joe’s gold medal tells us it was a journey that began when he was six, inspired by the exploits of a high jumper granduncle at the 1948 London Olympics.

Uncle Lloyd Valberg ignited a dream but it was sheer hard work to keep it burning for 15 years.

Joe reminds us the dream would have remained a dream if Mum May and Dad Colin were not by his side every step of the way.

Family matters.

But Joe’s crowning is not only about sport. It goes beyond that. It is also a Singapore story that has gone a little dim after five decades. He reminds us that when we put our hearts and minds into something, the impossible can be done.

It is about dreaming very big because even if the very big slips away, we will still end up with something big.

Just as Joe did in Brazil.

It is also about working very hard, about toiling through sweat and tears, and resisting the urge to give up when the ascent is suddenly a steep climb.

At a time when a nation is looking for fresh inspiration to embark on another 50-year journey, Joe dished it out for us in spades in a record 50.39 seconds.

This is what Joseph Schooling really did at the 2016 Rio Olympics.


Men’s 100m Butterly Final

Medal Presentation