Olympic Gold Medalist Joseph Schooling Announces Retirement

Photo Courtesy: Blake Benard

Olympic Gold Medalist Joseph Schooling Announces Retirement

Joseph Schooling, the Olympic gold medalist in the 100 butterfly at the 2016 Rio Olympics, announced his retirement from swimming on Monday.

The Singaporean made the announcement on social media as the “beginning of a new chapter” in his life. Four months from the start of the 2024 Olympics, for which Schooling looked a long shot, he had already been transitioning away from the sport. He leaves a legacy as not just an Olympic champion but a national hero back home.


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Schooling wrote in part:

I am filled with gratitude for every experience that swimming has brought into my life. The victories were exhilarating, the defeats humbling, and together, they have forged a resilience in me that I will carry forward into my next chapter.

Needless to say, I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to my family, coaches, teammates, and my supporters; your encouragement and faith have been a constant source of motivation throughout my journey.

While I am stepping away from competing, swimming will forever be a part of who I am. It has given me a platform to inspire others to chase their dreams, no matter the odds.

Schooling starred at the Bolles School and the University of Texas, a 12-time NCAA champion. He won a bronze medal in the 100 fly at the 2015 World Championships, but that did little to prepare for what he did in Rio the next summer. He set an Olympic record in 50.39 seconds in the final, defeating Michael Phelps and the rest of the field. He was the first Singaporean athlete to win an Olympic gold medal.

He won another bronze at Worlds in 2017 and continued to dominate at the Southeast Asian Games through 2021. But he didn’t make even a semifinal at the 2019 World Championships. He finished 44th in the 100 fly and 39th in the 100 freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

He was dogged by issues out of the pool, including the death of his father in 2021 after a battle with cancer. Schooling had his National Service deferments rescinded in 2022 when he admitted to using cannabis on an overseas trip. He didn’t participate in the Asian Games in 2023, having earlier that year pulled out of contention for the SEA Games, citing his lack of form.

Since, he’s taken part in triathlons in what may be a nod toward his post-swimming athletic endeavors.

“I am eager to explore new passions, face different challenges, and see where this next phase of life takes me,” he wrote. “Thank you to my supporters for standing by me every step of the way. I hope you will join me as I embark on this new adventure.”

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