It's one thing to meet your hero but something else entirely to beat them!
But that is exactly what Joseph Schooling did when he beat his idol, Micheal Phelps, in the 100m Butterfly to win the first ever gold medal for Singapore. It wasn’t a one off either, with Schooling already having beaten Phelps in the same event in June. Add this to the fact that this was Phelps’ last individual race in the Olympics and it becomes a story perfect for the history books.
During the after match press conference, Schooling could barely put into words how he was feeling. He said, “A lot of this is because of Michael, he’s the reason I wanted to be a better swimmer.” Surely, there was a story there? Meanwhile, Micheal Phelps was bidding adieu to the sport and the pool to which he had given 24 years of his life. Despite finishing the individual event with a Silver Medal, he was quite sure that this was it. Only the 4x100m relay remains.
If he wins the gold in that, he will finish with an amazing 23 Golds and overall 28 Olympic medals, easily the most decorated Olympic athlete.
Yet all Phelps would do during the press conference was ask the reporters to pose more questions to Joseph Schooling. He said that he couldn’t be happier with the person would had defeated him and he wasn’t feeling any sadness. Instead, he said that he greatly admired Schooling and his dream. Now, there definitely is a story there!
That is when this image surfaced on the internet
That’s right, Joseph Schooling actually met Phelps 8 years ago when he was merely a 13 year old boy. He got to tell his idol how much he was inspired by his work ethic and got words of encouragement in return. Micheal Phelps was in Singapore while he was training for the upcoming Beijing Olympics. At one of the training pools, he ran into Schooling who could barely express his excitement.
Little did he know that he had actually met an Olympic Gold Medal Winner.
Around this time, Joseph Schooling moved to Florida to further his swimming training and was coached by an Olympic Bronze Medalist, Sergio Lopez. He dedicated his victory in Rio to the hard work put in by his stern yet hardworking coach.
Along the way, Schooling conquered many challenges.
In Singapore, it is mandatory for men to enlist into the National Service after completing their schooling. In 2012, once Joseph Schooling competed at the 2012 Olympics, this rule was waived off for him so that he could train for the Rio Olympics.
Also, the biggest factor being that Singapore had never actually won a gold medal at the Olympics, winning their first medal in 1960, twelve years after they entered the Olympics. They only had a grand total of four medals in the Olympics in 68 years before Rio.
Finally, Schooling grew up in a household that was initially conservative and even something like the tattoo of the Longhorn that he now has on his back took quite a lot of convincing.
But he overcame these challenges to etch his name in the history books. A true win for the dreamer and a highlight of the 2016 Olympics!