RIO DE JANEIRO – Texas rising junior Joseph Schooling led a loaded 100m butterfly field – including three-time defending Olympic champion Michael Phelps – and set an Olympic record on his way to gold Friday evening at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Schooling took the lead from the start and covered the opening 50 meters in 23.64 seconds with Russia's Aleksandr Sadovnikov his nearest competitor at 23.96. Schooling turned off the wall, blasted his trademark underwater kicks and continued to pace the eight-man final. The only man under 51 seconds in the final, Schooling touched in 50.39 seconds, good for Olympic gold and an Olympic record well under the previous standard of 50.58 set by Phelps at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Phelps, South Africa's Chad Le Clos and Hungary's Laszlo Cheh all tied for silver at 51.14.
Schooling is the first Longhorns swimmer to win an individual Olympic gold medal since 2008 when Aaron Peirsol won gold for the United States in the 100m backstroke.
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Schooling becomes the 25th Longhorns men's swimmer or diver to win an Olympic gold medal and is the 43rd Longhorns men's swimmer or diver to win an Olympic medal of any color. Texas men's swimmers and divers have accounted for 47 gold medals, 16 silver medals and nine bronze medals at the Olympic Games.
Schooling won bronze for Singapore in the 100m butterfly last summer at the 2015 FINA World Championships. The 2016 co-National Swimmer of the Year swept the four NCAA butterfly titles contested in his first two seasons as a Longhorn. He holds the NCAA, NCAA Championship and U.S. Open records in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly events.
POST-MEET COMMENTS (courtesy of ONS)
Joseph Schooling (SIN) - gold
On winning the gold medal:
"I'm sorry if I don't seem like I'm full of emotions but I don't know what to believe - that I actually did it or I'm still preparing for my race. I'm between the two of them."
"I need to let this moment sink in, realise what I've done and then I'll have a better understanding of what I accomplished. But right now all I can say is I'm really honoured and privileged to have an opportunity to race in an Olympic final alongside huge names like Michael (PHELPS, USA), Chad (LE CLOS, RSA), and Laszlo (CSEH, HUN), guys that have redefined the sport."
On being a ground-breaker for Singapore in swimming:
"It's been a hard road. I've done something that no one in our country had done before."
"It's been a tough road, I'm not going to lie. The first guy through the wall it's always bloody. I had to take that blow and I'm thankful and blessed that I have the ability to accomplish this."
"It doesn't matter where you're from. A lot of people believe that - I don't think I can say a lot of people, that would be a lie - some people believe that Singapore has a lot of talent. I believe that."
"I hope this opens a new door, opens more doors for sports in our country and hopefully I set a precedent for a lot more guys to come up."
On what Michael Phelps told him after the race:
"He said, 'Good job, that was a great race'. I told him, 'Four more years?' and he said, 'No way.' If he changes his mind, that would be fun. I like racing Michael."
On how he is feeling:
"I'm just ecstatic. I don't think it has set in yet, it's just crazy. You know, breaking the Olympic record and it was a thrill to swim against Michael Phelps(USA) and all all those guys."
On the fact the race ended with a triple dead-heat for second place:
"I didn't really see. I just saw my time and I was going nuts. Three silvers is crazy, I still can't believe that and have never seen anything like that before."
On going into a race against well-known swimmers:
"I've raced Michael PHELPS (USA), Laszlo CSEH (HUN) and Chad LE CLOS (RSA) before but it takes some time to get use to and it's not something you can adjust to overnight. It takes a lot of months, a lot of years, a lot of mental preparation."
On what it feels like to have realised his dream:
"It's crazy. It still hasn't sunk in. I think I need a couple of days, I need to chill by myself and digest what has happened. It's really an honour and privilege to race against Chad (LE CLOS), Michael (PHELPS) and LASZLO (CSEH). This race means more to my family and my friends and those people who supported me. I did this for them. When you race for people bigger than yourself, I think it means a lot to accomplish what you wanted to."
On what his gold means for Singapore:
"It means a lot. That was a tough road. A lot of pressure. You have to learn how to manage that. It wasn't easy. I'm blessed and privileged and thankful I could accomplish the things I have wanted to. I hope this paves a new road for sports in Singapore. I hope it shows that people from the smallest countries in the world can do extraordinary things. Hopefully, it changes all of sporting culture in Singapore."
On his mentors:
"Chad (LE CLOS) also idolised Michael (PHELPS). He's the greatest. He's accomplished so much in his career. It's only fitting to idolise someone like that. He's the perfect guy to dream of accomplishing what he has accomplished. One gold medal is nuts. I can't imagine 22 or 23. That is out of this world.
"I wanted to be like him. A lot of this is because of Michael. He's the reason why I want to be a better swimmer."