Joseph Schooling to Reassess Olympic Cycle Plan after SEA Games

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Joseph Schooling to Reassess Olympic Cycle Plan after SEA Games

Joseph Schooling, the 2016 Olympic champion in the men’s 100 butterfly, said in an interview this week that he will reassess his plan for the road to the 2024 Olympics.

Schooling is 26. He’s scheduled to compete at the Southeast Asian Games in May in Hanoi, Vietnam, as well as the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. But whether the Singapore sporting icon will vie for a spot at a fourth Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 remains an open question.

“I’m going to be 27 this year, and there are a lot of things outside the pool that I’ll want to move on to after I’m done swimming,” Schooling told Yahoo News Singapore. “Right now the question is, ‘Okay, do I still want to do Paris? Or do I stop and reassess where I want to go after the Asian Games?’

“Also, how do I balance what I need to do (national service)-wise and getting the training I need? Because if this schedule persists, I don’t think I can make it to 2024 in Paris.”

Schooling first made his name at the SEA Games in 2011 in Palembang, Indonesia, winning two golds among four total medals. He’s one of the most decorated athletes in SEA Games history, winning 31 medals (27 golds) over five installments.

But he hinted in the interview that the next SEA Games could be his last. He had a bumpy run to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, which required deferrals of his compulsory national service that he is still sorting through. In 2018, he’d indicated a desire to push through to Paris, but the last few years have been onerous.

Little can take away from Schooling’s tremendous career. He was a 12-time NCAA champion at the University of Texas. He’s got three gold and seven total medals at the Asian Games and was the bronze medalist in the men’s 100 fly at the World Championships in 2015 and 2017.

In between, obviously, was the swim that immortalized his career. He won Singapore’s first ever Olympic gold medal in Rio, upsetting the three-way tie for second between Michael Phelps, Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh in an unforgettable final.

Schooling struggled in the years leading up to Tokyo, changing his training locations and looking for a spark. After winning in 50.39 in 2016, an Olympic record, Schooling finished 44th in the event in Tokyo with a time of 53.12 seconds. Schooling also finished 39th in the 100 free.

“I’ve always enjoyed representing Singapore at the SEA Games, and this SEA Games being possibly my last will make it even more special,” Schooling said. “I won’t take anything for granted, and I’m going to appreciate whatever is going to happen.”

Read the full interview with Joseph Schooling here.

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