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Athletes

Joseph
Schooling
SingaporeSingapore, SGP
Swimming

Biography

Further Personal Information

Date of birth
16 June 1995
Height
184 cm
Residence
Austin, TX, USA
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
English, Mandarin
Higher education
Economics - University of Texas: Austin, TX, USA

Sport Specific Information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He learned to swim at age four.
Why this sport?
His talent was spotted at an early age and he was given the opportunity of attending the private Bolles School swimming institution in Jacksonville, FL, United States of America. "My parents wanted me to [learn to swim], because Singapore is surrounded by water. I enjoyed swimming so much. When they put me under the water I wasn't afraid, unlike other kids. I just used to giggle and found I really liked being in the water."
Club / Team
Chinese Swimming Club: Singapore
Name of coach
Stephan Widmer [national], AUS; Gary Tan [national], SGP; Sonya Porter [national]

International Debut

Year
2011
Competing for
Singapore

General Interest

Nicknames
Jo (swimswam.com, 29 Mar 2016)
Hobbies
Supporting English football club Chelsea. (Instagram profile, 01 Dec 2018)
Most influential person in career
His parents. (Athlete, 03 Aug 2016)
Hero / Idol
US swimmer Michael Phelps. (todayonline.com, 04 Jun 2016)
Injuries
He competed at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Republic of Korea, despite suffering from nerve damage in his right shoulder. (asiaone.com, 24 Sep 2014)

He suffered a sprained ankle in 2012. (Athlete, 03 Aug 2016)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"If you want something badly enough, you will do whatever it takes to get it." (prischew.com, 19 Nov 2013)
Awards and honours
He was named Sportsman of the Year at the Singapore Sports Awards for the sixth time in 2019 [also won in 2012, 2015-18]. In 2012 at age 16, he was the youngest person to have won the award. (swimmingworldmagazine.com, 14 May 2019; yahoo.com, 30 May 2012)

In 2014 and 2016 he was named The Straits Times Athlete of the Year in Singapore. (swimswam.com, 20 Feb 2017, 05 Mar 2015)

He was voted the 2015 Men's Swimmer of the Year by the Big 12 Conference in the United States of America. (texassports.com, 19 Apr 2016)
Famous relatives
His uncle Lloyd Valberg represented Singapore in athletics at the 1948 Olympic Games in London. (SportsDeskOnline, 28 Apr 2015; straitstimes.com, 24 Sep 2014)
Ambitions
To break the world record in the 100m butterfly. (swimswam.com, 15 Jun 2017)
Other information
RETURN HOME
He intends to return to Singapore in early 2019 after graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, TX, United States of America, to prepare for the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, Republic of Korea, and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. "I am headed back to Singapore after this semester is over, not exactly sure when, probably between January and February [2019]. I have full trust in the plans that will be put in place for me in the lead up to the world championships and the 2020 Olympics." (asiaone.com, 09 Nov 2018; todayonline.com, 09 Nov 2018)

NATIONAL FIRST
He became the first athlete from Singapore to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games when he triumphed in the 100m butterfly at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. He beat his idol Michael Phelps to claim the title. (ONS, 14 Aug 2016; SportsDeskOnline, 05 Dec 2018)

RIO BLUES
He admitted that he got distracted from the sport in the months after winning gold in the 100m butterfly at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. "Having so much attention, and on such a large scale, can definitely be overwhelming, and you can definitely lose yourself. That was where I was from August to December [in 2016]. Now, I tell myself, 'Keep doing well, accomplish what you want to do. All the opportunities will come and you can enjoy them when you're done with swimming'." (swimswam.com, 15 Jun 2017)

DEFERRED MILITARY TIME
In October 2013 the Singapore government agreed he could delay his national service until August 2016, which would allow him to focus on training ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In August 2016 it was announced his deferment had been extended until after the 2020 Games in Tokyo. "I'm doing this because I love my country. I want to bring pride and glory to my country. If you ask me if swimming itself is a form of national service, I couldn't answer that question. It's not up to me. My job is to swim." (straitstimes.com, 15 Aug 2016; yahoo.com, 02 Dec 2013; straitstimes.com, 21 Oct 2013)