A nation's hopes for Olympic gold were pinned on one young man in Rio this year, and Joseph Schooling delivered.
Singaporeans erupted on social media Saturday morning as Schooling dominated the men's 100m butterfly with a time of 50.39 seconds, clinching not just the gold medal but also setting an Olympic record.
"It is an incredible feat to compete among the world’s best, stay focussed, and emerge victorious. Congrats once again to Joseph, you made us very proud today," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on his Facebook page.
The win was all the sweeter as Schooling beat his childhood hero Michael Phelps, who has 22 Olympic gold medals under his belt. He first met Phelps in 2008 as a 13-year-old.
"I'm sorry if I don't seem like I'm full of emotions but I don't know what to believe - that I actually did it or I'm still preparing for my race. I'm between the two of them," Schooling said.
"I need to let this moment sink in, realise what I've done and then I'll have a better understanding of what I accomplished. But right now all I can say is I'm really honoured and privileged to have an opportunity to race in an Olympic final alongside huge names like Michael (Phelps), Chad (Le Clos) and Laszlo (Cseh), guys that have redefined the sport."
Speaking to local newspaper The Straits Times, Schooling's father Colin Schooling described it as a "real privilege" for his son to swim with Phelps, while his best friend Teo Zhen Ren joked that he would call his friend the "Phelps-slayer" for some time.
Assembled family and friends in Singapore crowded around a television screen and stood to sing as Singapore's national anthem Majulah Singapura blared out across the stadium for the first time.
Saturday, August 13, 2016 - 06:02