Olympics: Joseph Schooling makes history in reaching men's 100m butterfly final
RIO DE JANEIRO - Joseph Schooling, Singapore's history maker in the pool, has done it again.
The 21-year-old swimmer became the first Singaporean man to make an Olympic swimming final on Thursday night (Brazil time).
His time of 50.83sec in the second 100m butterfly semi-final of the night was the fastest among the top eight swimmers who made Friday night's final (9.12am on Saturday, Singapore time).
It is also a new national record for the swimmer, whose previous personal best of 50.96sec was clocked at the world championships last year, when he won a historic bronze medal. The time is also the world's best time so far in 2016.
Quah Zheng Wen, who also made the semi-finals, was 15th overall with a time of 52.26sec. The 19-year-old had posted a personal best in the heats in the morning when he swam 52.08sec.
Schooling's landmark feat was done in a world-class field.
It included Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian of all time, whose 22 gold medals so far include three in this event from the past three Games. The American is also the world record holder.
Then there was South Africa's Chad le Clos, a two-time world champion in this event. Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, a five-time Olympic medallist and one of the world's best butterfly specialists, won the first semi-final in 51.57sec.
"I feel fine. A little short on stroke but doesn't really matter that much. It was all about posting a good enough time to get into top eight. And come back tomorrow and try to do it. It's a good confidence booster but doesn't really mean anything," Schooling told the media.
On finishing fastest in his heats and semi-finals, he said: "I'm all about winning medals. Yeah, it's great to be first in the top eight but we should be looking at winning medals."
He added: "I don't care if I break the world record but I get silver or bronze. I still lost. It's all about winning (the gold medal).
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated Schooling on his "stellar performance" in a Facebook post on Friday afternoon.
"He has done Singapore very proud!" Mr Lee said.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who was visiting Team Singapore at the Olympic Games, congratulated Schooling and Quah.
Dr Tan wrote in a Facebook post: "Landed in Rio and proceeded straight to the Olympic Aquatic Stadium. Glad to be in time to support Joseph and Quah Zheng Wen for their 100m Butterfly Semi-Finals.
"The races were very exciting and both Joseph and Zheng Wen did Singapore proud. We often underestimate the years of hard work of preparation because a race like the 100m fly concludes in just under a minute, barely a blink of an eye."
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