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SingaporeSingapore, SGP


Further Personal Information

Date of birth
16 June 1995
184 cm
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 to attend 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

International Debut

Competing for

General Interest

Jo (, 29 Mar 2016)
Supporting English football club Chelsea. (Instagram profile, 01 Dec 2018)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in the 100m butterfly at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (, 10 Jul 2019)
Hero / Idol
US swimmer Michael Phelps. (, 04 Jun 2016)
He competed at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Republic of Korea, despite suffering from nerve damage in his right shoulder. (, 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." (, 19 Nov 2013)
Awards and honours
In 2019 he was named Sportsman of the Year at the Singapore Sports Awards for the sixth time [also won in 2012 and 2015-18]. (, 14 May 2019;, 30 May 2012)

In 2016 he received the Pingat Jasa Gemilang [Meritorious Service Medal]. The medal is awarded for exceptional contribution to Singapore. (, 10 Jul 2019)

In 2016 and 2014 he was named The Straits Times Athlete of the Year in Singapore. (, 20 Feb 2017, 05 Mar 2015)
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. (ONS, 14 Aug 2016; SportsDeskOnline, 05 Dec 2018)
Famous relatives
His great-uncle Lloyd Valberg represented Singapore in athletics at the 1948 Olympic Games in London. (SportsDeskOnline, 28 Apr 2015;, 30 Nov 2019)
To break the world record in the 100m butterfly. (, 10 Jul 2019)
Other information
He returned to Singapore in early 2019 after graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, TX, United States of America, to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. "I felt like I was going through the motions on a daily basis, I needed a new sensory shock. There's been a lot of negatives, a few positives, but we're not going to dwell on the negatives. We're heading into Tokyo, which is the big goal." (, 09 Nov 2018;, 09 Nov 2018;, 26 Jul 2019)

He says that he became 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 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'." (, 15 Jun 2017)

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." (, 15 Aug 2016;, 02 Dec 2013;, 21 Oct 2013)