SINGAPORE: The Republic's history-making Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling said no parent should have to pay more than US$1 million out of their own pocket to help their child succeed.
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday (Nov 22), Schooling called for more support to be given to talented young athletes in Singapore.
He also paid tribute to the unsung heroes behind his Rio Olympics 2016 success such as nutritionist Kirsty Fairbairn, biomechanist Ryan Hodierne and high performance manager Sonya Porter.
Joseph Schooling: As far as financial support goes, I definitely think the associations can do a better job. We don't really have much funding. So when I went to the US, my parents spent a bunch of money out of their pocket to enable me to go to the US to study and get good training. But I think the associations can definitely do a better job at funding youth development or those who want to go overseas and get better training.
Channel NewsAsia: Earlier, you mentioned that ramping up sport science is extremely important as well. Could you give us an example of why you think that is?
Joseph Schooling: Over the summer in Rio, Sonya (Porter) and Ryan (Hodierne) analysed my races. They both had great numbers and statistics on my races, and other people's races. My competitors. So we knew, for example, where Michael would make his move, or where Chad would make his move. So I could mentally prepare myself, going into that race, knowing what they are going to do in different parts of the races.
I know that seems like a lot to process in 50 seconds. But just programming your mind and knowing where they are going to be kind of gives you edge. We should really look into more things like that, along those lines.
Channel NewsAsia: How important will it be to make sure nutritionists are more involved with our athletes?
Joseph Schooling: As far as nutrition goes, Dr Kirsty, she used to work at SSI (Singapore Sport Institute), but she is back in New Zealand now. She used to be the All Blacks nutritionist, that's pretty cool. I've never seen a nutritionist as detailed as her. For example, my plane ride back, she gave me an hour by hour analysis of whether I should be sleeping, or eating, what I should be eating, what I should be drinking. Should I have a cherry juice at this hour, or should I have an electrolyte drink at this hour?
Everything was very detailed. I think, we should look into more plans like that. These things can make a difference to performance, and I think we should look into that.
Channel NewsAsia: What would you say is the greatest lesson you've learnt, especially following your Olympic victory?
Joseph Schooling: Never give up. I know I've said that a lot. But everything that I do basically stems from that saying. I had a really bad 2012 Olympics. I felt like everything was going to be the end of the world. But it wasn't. I took some time off. Kind of refocused my mind and came back. Look what happened four years later. I hit my goal finally. My message would be never give up. Dream big. Don't quit.