TIMING HAS LONG BEEN THE GUIDING FOCUS of Singapore’s Olympic swimmer and gold medallist Joseph Schooling. And in 2022 at the South East Asia Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, he once again swam an impressive time of 52.22 seconds, showing that his performances in the pool remain world-class. Today, however, his immediate focus is fixed firmly on performing his national service duties at the Changi Naval Base. Earlier this year, 27-year-old Schooling made the difficult decision to not defend the 100-metre butterfly – his pet event – at the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia in May due to a lack of adequate preparation.
“My country comes first before individual accolades.”
Schooling has been permitted short-term disruptions during his national service, which commenced on January 3, 2022, to train and compete for Singapore. Yet, when announcing his withdrawal, he said it was “not an easy decision”, but that “my country comes first before individual accolades.”
The specialist in butterfly, freestyle and the medley felt his training wasn’t at the level he needed. “I have decided to give my spot to team mates who have been getting themselves ready and considered for selection while I cheer from home and focus on my Navy duties,” he said in a media statement at the time.
With well over one million social media followers, his popularity continues to grow. His authentic approach to life in the sporting spotlight has helped cement an enviable level of public trust, and earned him the Most Trusted Sports Personality for 2023, the eighth year in a row.