Sunday, 14 August 2016


"I WANT GOLD". That the front page news. That's the words of a champion in the making. That's our very own Singapore son. Joseph Isaac Schooling ("Joseph") could very well make history come this morning at 9:13 am.
The race starts at 9:12 am and 1 minute is what separates him from being the greatest Olympian on this little red dry-eyed dot (in terms of not having won any gold in our brief history for competing in this category, that is, 100m butterfly).
To say that our local fastest-clocked butterfly in the semi-finals has butterflies in this stomach is an understatement. Our little David is up against a few water Goliaths in the biggest race of his life.
It reports that "the greatest Olympian of all time lurks in Lane 2. American Michael Phelps, 31, defying logic and age, has yet to lose any of his four finals so far in Rio. He will be gunning for another gold to add to his astounding tally of 22 over five Games." Joseph with need to throw more than five stones (or strokes) to defeat this giant.
Then we have Chad le Clos on Joseph's immediate left. He is the South African's star swimmer and is a "two-time world champion in this event and also a winner on the Olympic stage."
Lastly, "five-time Olympic medallist Lazlo Cseh of Hungary, backed by the experience of swimming in big finals, is also in the group." Talk about having your hands (arms) full eh.
Clearly, our little aqua boy is outflanked by experience, gold medals tally and swimmers with really long legs and arms.
But I guess what distinguishes Joseph and the rest of his competition is his determination to win. This is what he has been training for all his life thus far and the 21 year-old said this with uncompromising gusto, "I don't care if I break the world record and get a silver or bronze, I still lost." That's the hunger he has for the Olympic gold and he is not losing sight of it. He is not blinking. He's laser-focused.
And the other added advantage is that his mum is in the crowd. That is maternal boost-up for Joseph in ordinary Pokemon Go lingo. Mrs May Schooling will be "dressed in red" with a Singapore banner held aloft over her head.
She will represent for her son three things: a mother's unconditional love, the undying support of a hardcore fan, and the Kallang roar of a 51-year-old nation all rallying behind her.
To add to the victory chant, our very own President Tony Tan will be cheering too. Now that is like the whole nation symbolically standing behind Joseph. Phew! pressure bro.
Lesson? Joseph has a lot to teach the youth of today. He is a towering inspiration. He puts grit into gumption, instills hope into every living breath, and fires up a nation's febrile imagination.
In my book, whether he wins the gold or not, he's already a winner. This may sound cliché, but it really is not - because the race is always a lifetime marathon; not a one-off sprint.
And the saying that "winning is not everything, it is the only thing " is only the tip of the iceberg.
The entire hidden structure, which lies silently below the water mark of what is not seen, are the many years of never giving up, living your dream, holding your head up above the water, facing the grueling race with the right attitude, taking the plunge even when nobody is there to cheer for you, shedding tears of determination to make the difference by that one seemingly insignificant second, and after overcoming years of back-breaking discipline, soul-draining training and spirit-testing trials in the waters, making it for the 9:12 am slot this morning to complete in the greatest race of your life.
If all that is not winning as winning ought to be defined by all, and duly recognized by those in the throes of their own trials and tribulations, then I don't know what true winning is anymore.
In other words, what is the only thing about winning, which is everything the youth of today needs to know about winning, is that Joseph never gave up and that is what makes him the champion of hearts. We can therefore all come together at 9:12 am, and stand tall and proud.
So, come 9:13 am, the Olympian gold medalist will be announced. Regardless of the outcome, Joseph will swim like he has never swum before, that is, with grace, coolness, determination, and a heart for gold.
That's the making of a champion of all time, and for all time. Bring it home bro! Cheerz.

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