CLARK, PHILIPPINES – “It’s not every day someone can come out of the pool and say ‘I beat Joseph Schooling’,” said a reporter to the newly crowned SEA Games 50m butterfly champion Teong Tzen Wei.
“No la. I just treat him as a brother,” said Teong, 21. “I just got this one and he’s got many ahead of me. I’m happy that Singapore got the top two.”
Teong had to summon a PB effort of 23.55 seconds to topple the Olympian, who fares better in the 100m butterfly. Schooling was runner-up in 23.61s after spending most of the race playing catchup.
Teong held a head’s length advantage right after emerging from the water. By the time Schooling found his stride, that gap proved essential to Teong’s victory as the one-lap race came to an end too soon for Schooling.
Even though Teong tried to brush off the significance of beating Singapore’s golden boy in swimming, he was still stunned by his achievement.
“I don’t even know how it happened. Sometimes it just lines up perfectly. Just like how people are amazed that Joseph won (at the Rio Olympics), that’s how I feel,” said Teong.
Schooling admitted that he was disappointed with the result, but he found solace in losing to a fellow teammate over anyone else.
“I’d rather have him in front of me than anyone else,” said Schooling. “You can’t win all the time, although you’d like that. You take little notes out of each race, put it in the next one and move on from there.”
Despite yesterday’s loss, Schooling did well today, clocking 51.84s to take home the gold, sealing his qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Joining him at the Olympics is teammate Quah Zheng Wen, whose 51.87s effort got him the silver. Quah also won a gold in the 200m backstroke, setting a new SEA Games record of 2:00.06.
Other local swimmers also did well.
Christie Chue outdid herself in the 200m breaststroke to clinch the gold in 2:28.71, a PB, national record and Games record. Darren Chua rewrote his PB in the 200m individual medley to win silver in 2:02.73.
Team Singapore also brought back the gold in the 4x100m men’s freestyle relay, bringing the swimming medal haul to 11 golds, four silvers and two bronzes as of today.