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A swimmer Olympic fans had their eyes on is still numb after a crushing defeat.

Joseph Schooling this morning thanked Singaporeans for their support, saying he needed time to wrap his head around yesterday’s showing in the 100m butterfly crown that denied him the chance to defend the gold he brought home five years ago.

“Hey guys! Thanks for all the wishes and support – it means the world to me. I’ll take some time to process everything and get back to you as soon as I can,” the 26-year-old athlete wrote.

Schooling’s message posted this morning. Image: Joseph Schooling/Instagram
Schooling’s message posted this morning. Image: Joseph Schooling/Instagram

At Thursday’s highly anticipated match in the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Schooling placed 44th out of 55 with a time of 53.12 seconds. That was three seconds over his national record of 50.39 seconds, which broke Olympic records and earned Singapore’s first gold medal ever at the Rio Olympics in 2016, even beating famed American swimmer Michael Phelps.

Caeleb Dressel from the United States placed first in the qualifying rounds of the Men’s 100m Butterfly race with the same time as Schooling’s record-breaking 50.39 seconds. 

Schooling’s long-time coach Sergio Lopez Miro this morning dedicated a heartfelt message to him to continue striving forward.

“Over 10 years ago we crossed path in this beautiful life for something more than just being perfect. Never forget that perfection lies in the imperfection of life. Thank you for this amazing and interesting journey. Let’s keep moving forward,” he wrote.

The swimmer told reporters yesterday that his performance was “very disappointing” and is “sure as hell” he will not end his career like this.

Coming during an Olympics where athlete mental health has taken center stage, Singapore reacted to Schooling’s loss by showering him with encouragement.

“There is always going to be pressure but you have given your best out there and we are all thankful and proud of you. You will always come back stronger. Just remember that all your supporters are behind you and will always be cheering for you regardless of the result,” Zulhilfi Ismail wrote.

“You will come back stronger! It’s just a blip that everyone will have in their lives. Thanks for giving your all for the nation!” Tan Chee Kheong wrote.

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This article, “I’ll take some time to process everything”: Joseph Schooling on Olympic defeat, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.

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