JAKARTA: Olympic champion Joseph Schooling won Singapore’s first gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games after retaining his men’s 100m butterfly title on Wednesday night (Aug 22).
He clocked 51.04s to touch the wall first ahead of his closest competitors at the Gelora Bung Karno aquatic centre in Jakarta, setting a new Games record.
China’s Li Zhuhao took silver, clocking 51.46s, while Japan’s Yuki Kobori took bronze with 51.77s.
Schooling’s national teammate Quah Zheng Wen finished fourth after clocking 52.54s.
Schooling was the fastest qualifier in the heats on Wednesday morning, while Quah placed fourth.
The gold is Schooling’s second medal at the 2018 Asian Games after he helped the men’s 4x200m relay team clinch bronze on Monday.
The 23-year-old rose to prominence after winning the 100m butterfly title at the 2014 edition of the Games in Incheon.
He went on to win Singapore’s first-ever gold medal at the Olympics, beating swimming legend Michael Phelps in the final in 2016.
“EVERY GOLD IS SPECIAL”
Speaking to media on Wednesday night, Schooling said he was nervous at the start of the race. His reaction time off the blocks was slower than his Chinese rival Li Zhuhao, who was racing alongside him.
“Of course I was nervous, I got some jitters, that’s good – it means that I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m happy (with that),” said Schooling.
His finish time for the race was 0.65s slower than his personal best, achieved at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. But Schooling maintained that for this race, the most important thing was to beat his rivals.
“The (finish) time was okay. It is all about stepping up for your country and yourself. Its all about getting your hands on the wall first so in regards to that I’m very pleased and very happy.
“It’s … been a long day and I’m happy we finished strong,” he said.
On his gold being just another to add to his huge collection, Schooling said “every gold is special”.
“It has its own story in itself. Like I said, you never know what’s going to happen.
“All you can do is to give your best and I’m happy that the result came out the way I wanted it too,” he added.
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