By Fathin Ungku and Nicole Nee
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s first Olympic gold medalist, swimmer Joseph Schooling, said on Tuesday he was looking to beat the world record for 100 meters butterfly and planned to compete in two more events at the next Olympics in Tokyo.
After winning gold in Rio de Janeiro in the 100 meters butterfly last week and reaching the semi-finals in 100 meters freestyle, Schooling said he might also challenge in the 200 meters butterfly and the 200 meters individual medley (IM).
“Next goal, next step, besides breaking the record for 100 fly would be getting my 200 fly back. … I’ve got a good shot. I’ve been training for 200 fly, that’s why I can finish a 100 pretty well,” he told reporters after returning to a cheering crowd in his home country.
“I think 200 IM would be a good race. An all-around race for me,” added Schooling, sporting a new tattoo of the Olympic circles on his right biceps.
Schooling, 21, finished the 100 meters butterfly final in an Olympic record time of 50.39 seconds, ahead of his childhood idol Michael Phelps, South Africa’s Chad le Clos and Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh who all finished in 51.14 seconds for a joint silver.
Singapore, a Southeast Asian island nation of less than six million, had won only two silver and two bronze medals since it joined the Olympic fold in 1948.
Schooling has been lifted to national hero status with parliament passing a motion to recognize his achievements on Monday. He is due for an open top bus parade on Thursday.
He thanked Phelps for his win.
“Michael took me under his wing and … said: ‘look you’re so young, you’ve got so much ahead of you, don’t sweat it’ and that still sticks with me ’till today,” he told Reuters in a brief interview after the news conference.
As part of its Foreign Sports Talent program, wealthy Singapore offers a S$1 million ($747,663) prize for gold medals. Schooling, whose parents sold their house to fund his training, according to news reports, does not have specific plans on how to spend it.
“I’ll let my mum do that, she’s good with money,” he told Reuters. He will focus on training for Tokyo instead.
“When I’m 25 I’m going to be at my peak. I’m going to be a lot stronger than I am now.”
(Writing by Marius Zaharia; editing by Clare Lovell)