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Twice-beaten Schooling back to the drawing board



Josehp Schooling says his twin losses to younger teammates was a reality check for him. (Straits Times)

Joseph Schooling, beaten twice this week in the 30th Southeast Asian Games by his younger teammates, was not a happy man Sunday night.

The 100-meter butterfly Olympic champion was stunned by Darren Chua in the 100m freestyle, finishing second in 49.64 seconds.

The 19-year-old Chua, who won his first SEA Games individual gold in the 200m free on Saturday, added a second after touching the wall in 49.59.

Schooling, 24, was bidding for a hat-trick after his 2015 and 2017 wins. He was also beaten in the 50m fly final by Teong Tzen Wei, 22, on Thursday.

Glancing at his Games mascot soft toy while standing on the podium, Schooling touched the silver medal around his neck and frowned. Clearly unhappy with his performance, he said later: “Good job to Darren, he did really well. Gave it my all, now it’s going back to the drawing board and getting better each day.

“Of course, no one likes to lose, that’s why we do this. As long as you give it your all, I can’t be too disappointed in the effort but I’m disappointed with the result.

“This is a good reality check.”

His bulkier physique at these Games has dominated online and offline chatter this week. He explained yesterday he had tried to beef up his 78-79 kilogram frame after the world championships in July as he felt that he had “no power and was weak.”  At that meet in South Korea, Schooling, who bagged bronzes at the 2015 and 2017 editions, finished 24th overall.

Adding that he was not happy with his current physical condition, he said: “Now is a good test to see that 79, 78 or even 80kg lean is where I need to be.

“After this I’m definitely going to sit down and chat with Rico (Singapore Sports Institute’s head of sports nutrition Dr Richard Swinburne) and we’ll fix this.”

Singapore Swimming Association head coach Gary Tan had also said on Saturday “there is some recognition that he (Schooling) needs to change in the lifestyle part of it”, and that the goal was to get him trimmer and fitter.

Asked by The Straits Times about Tan’s comments on lifestyle changes, Schooling bristled: “No, I’m here to talk about swimming, nothing else out of the pool.”

With seven months left to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Singapore head coach and performance director Stephan Widmer told ST it will be a painful slog for Schooling.

He stressed yesterday: “Like every other plan, the first thing is the athlete has to want to do it.

“We got a world-leading physiologist and nutritionist, sleep specialist. The athletes need to go down the line and I’m very convinced that Jo wants that.”

He is not convinced that Schooling’s weight-gain plan has backfired given the results at this meet.

He added: “Did it backfire? I don’t know, I call it learning.

“If we are afraid of moving in a direction you want to go, then you will never explore new horizons. We learn from the positive and the negative; most people learn from the negative, you learn faster.”

Schooling’s final swim is in today’s men’s 4x100m medley. Victory will give him four golds, including just one individual title in the 100m fly, two fewer than his tally in Kuala Lumpur two years ago. (Straits Times)