Joseph Schooling idolised Michael Phelps while he was growing up. He even got a chance to meet him as a starstruck 13-year-old.
Who knew during the chance encounter in 2008 that Schooling would one day grow up to beat the most decorated Olympian in history?
Schooling, 21, won in an Olympic record time of 50.39 seconds. The Singaporean was 0.75 seconds ahead from the trio of Phelps, South Africa’s Chad Le Clos and Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, who all finished with identical time of to finish in silver medal position.
Phelps, 31, could win his 23rd gold in the 4x100m medley relay on Saturday.
Schooling won the 100-metre butterfly on Friday night, snapping Phelps’ streak of four straight gold medals to open the Rio Games. Phelps finished in a three-way tie for second place.
Even before the gold, Schooling was already being celebrated in his native Singapore. Schooling beat Phelps in his semfinal heat on Thursday night, a “victory” that caused people back home to hail their native son as an Olympic hero.
Now that Schooling is bringing Singapore the nation’s first Olympic gold medal, the celebration figures to get much, much bigger.
Earlier, Schooling was the fastest qualifier for the men’s 100 metres butterfly final on Friday, while Phelps also secured a spot with the fifth-fastest time.
Schooling clocked 50.83 seconds, while South Africa’s Chad Le Clos had the second fast time of 51.43 on Thursday.
Phelps, who cut short his participation in the IM medal ceremony to race off the pool deck and get ready for the butterfly semi-finals, touched in 51.58 seconds.
The 31-year-old American had to storm home in the second length having turned in last place at the 50m mark.