Singaporean swimming star Joseph Schooling is coming to the Philippines as one the many celebrity athletes expected to shine in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The 24-year-old Schooling is coming from a disappointing performance in the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, Korea, where he missed out on the semifinals of his pet 100m butterfly event.
Schooling won a gold medal in the 100m butterfly in the 2016 Rio Olympics with a time of 50.39 seconds for the first Olympic gold medal won by Singapore and the first for a Southeast Asian country in swimming.
Singapore will be bringing in 585 athletes and participating in 49 sports, according to the Singapore National Olympic Council in a statement.
Rio Olympics’ silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz is expected to share the limelight with Schooling, alongside Thailand’s Sopita Tanasan and Sukanya Srisurat, who have won weightlifting golds in Rio.
Thai lifters Pimsiri Sirikaew and Sinphet Kruaithong, who took a silver and a bronze, respectively, in Rio, are also around with Olympic taekwondo medallist jins Panipak Wongpattanakit and Tawin Hanpra.
In winning a Rio gold, Schooling set a new Olympic record by beating Michael Phelps’ mark of 50.58 seconds set at the 2008 Olympiad.
Schooling was the most bemedalled athlete of the 2017 SEA Games where he claimed the golds in the men’s 100m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 100m butterfly, and three relays.
Schooling’s playground will be the newly built Aquatic Center inside the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.
His presence is expected to be challenged by Fil-American Jarrod Hatch, who recently set a new 100m butterfly national record of 53.91 seconds, resetting his previous mark of 54.36 seconds that was clocked last June at the Santa Clara International meet.
Hatch is currently seeing action in the 7th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary with other members of the Philippine national team pool.
Meanwhile, 15-year-old Jeremiah Tandingan broke her own 100m Freestyle 14-15-year-old girls’ Philippine junior national record.
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