Rio de Janeiro: Who’s your hero? In 2008, 13 year old Joseph Schooling got to meet his hero, Michael Phelps, when the Olympian visited Singapore prior to the Beijing Olympics. Today, 8 years later, Joseph just made history by beating Michael to Gold in the 100m Butterfly finals – the first Singaporean to ever make (let alone win) an Olympic swimming final.
After meeting his hero as a young teenager, Joseph said “Michael Phelps may be my idol, but I just want to make my own career.” He then became fully committed to his swimming and, 3 years later in 2011 Joseph beat Michael’s age-group (15-16 years) time over the 100 yards butterfly. At the time, Joseph said, “It’s been a target of mine and I’m really happy to do that. It is a huge boost… Hopefully, I can get more of his records.”
In 2012, at 17, he finally got his dream of swimming in the same race as Michael, saying it was “a tick off on my bucket list.” That was the year Joseph first qualified for the Olympics in London, but then disaster struck when he was told his goggles weren’t olympic standard just before the race. He rushed to get replacements, but ended up getting a poor time in his heats and didn’t get through to the semi-finals. It was Michael who was there to comfort him:
“I was walking behind Phelps after my race when he looked at me and asked, ‘what’s wrong?’ “I told him what happened and he hugged me and said, ‘you’re only so young, you still have a long way to go. It’s a learning experience so keep your head high and just keep moving on’.”
Again, it was his hero who motivated Joseph on, and he thought: “I know that as I get older, I’ll become stronger, and I’ll fare better beside him.” Today, Joseph not only became stronger, but strong enough to win gold in Rio, clocking a new Olympic record time in the 100m Butterly in 50.39 seconds.
Michael, who has already won 4 Gold Medals in Rio, ended up in a 3-way dead heat for Silver with South Africa’s Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary, three quarters of a second behind Joseph. After Joseph’s win, Michael was the first to swim over and congratulate him.
Who is your hero? Who inspires you so much that you’re committed to do them the honor of committing to be even better than they are? And then achieve it?
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” ~ Isaac Newton Big congratulations to Joseph Schooling on the Gold. And to Michael Phelps for the inspiration.