On the fourth anniversary of Joseph Schooling’s historical victory at the 2016 Olympics, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin recalled how electrifying the moment was when the national swimmer won Olympic gold for Singapore.
Schooling’s victory in the 2016 Rio Olympics was momentous not just because he won Singapore’s very first Olympic gold medal but because he beat swimming legend Michael Phelps to clinch the gold medal in the 100m butterfly event.
Michael Phelps, the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 28 medals, was the crowd favourite especially at the 2016 Games since it would be his last Olympics before his retirement. The American swimmer, who holds the all-time record for Olympic gold medals, was then-21-year-old Schooling’s childhood idol.
In a stunning victory, Schooling won a gold medal in the 100 m butterfly with a time of 50.39 seconds, clinching the first Olympic gold medal won by Singapore in what was considered an impossible feat.
Not only did he beat Phelps – who earned a silver medal in the event – his time set a new Olympic record, beating Phelps’ record of 50.58 seconds nearly a decade prior, at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Ruling party politician Tan-Chuan Jin was there in the audience when Schooling made history. Mr Tan, an avid photographer, was spotted wielding an enormous camera in the stands alongside prominent establishment figures who were at the Games to support the Singapore contingent.
Mr Tan even captured a tender moment on camera when he shot Schooling making what could have been his first phone call to his father after his win.
Sharing a video of Schooling’s achieving the impossible on the fourth anniversary of his victory, Mr Tan wrote on Facebook today: “It was indeed a special moment. To have been there to witness it made it even more memorable. Electrifying. 👍💪🇸🇬”
Mr Tan was not the only Singaporean who felt proud when Schooling won Olympic gold for Singapore. Massive crowds attended a victory parade in Singapore to mark his historic gold medal and the Singapore National Olympic Council awarded the national swimmer with a S$1 million prize in what was deemed to be the world’s largest Olympic cash prize.
Then-Singapore President Tony Tan even said “witnessing Singapore’s first Olympic gold win was one of the highlights of my presidency,” at the end of his term.