SEA Games: Olympian Schooling feels at home in Philippines

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Dec 05, 2019 04:08 PM
SEA Games: Olympian Schooling feels at home in Philippines
(Photo courtesy of Joaqui Flores)

NEW CLARK CITY, TARLAC - The swimmer who had made a splash by besting Michael Phelps in the Olympics is in the country and competing in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Joseph Schooling, representing Singapore, went in the water for his first race in the regional meet last Wednesday at NCC Aquatics Center here - and made an immediate impact.

Schooling stamped his class on everybody else, clocking in at 7:17.88 in the 4x200m freestyle relay - more than three seconds faster than silver medalist Vietnam.

In all, the Olympic gold medalist was nothing but satisfied with what had happened in the first day of the swimming competition. "I'm fond of being able to race here for the first time and coming away with the first gold," he said.

He then continued, "Obviously, I'm very proud of coming to the Philippines. This is a very beautiful pool and the crowd is amazing."

Of course, the Filipino crowd has quite the reason to cheer for Schooling who grew up under the watchful eye of Cagayan native Yolanda "Yolly" Pascual. "Aunt Yolly said that a huge Filipino crowd will be here to support us and it's true. They turned up and it's a very good feeling being able to race here even though I'm away from home," he shared.

He then continued, "It feels like I never left Singapore."

Enjoying quite the home court advantage even though he's not donning the blue, red, and white, the Singaporean tanker said he will use all of this time in the SEA Games to gear up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. "I have already qualified for the Olympics so definitely, this is one of the stepping stones to Tokyo. I just need to focus on one event at a time," he said.

He then continued, "Good event, take away from it. Bad event, just brush it aside and move forward."

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