Thousands turn up to cheer Joseph Schooling during victory parade

Thousands turn up to cheer Joseph Schooling during victory parade

The nation's first Olympic champion makes his final public appearance before heading back to the US, where he studies and trains.

schooling parade

SINGAPORE: Thousands of fans came out to support the Republic’s first Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling on Thursday (Aug 18) as he embarked on a victory parade, travelling from Old Airport Road to Raffles City in an open-top bus to meet and greet fans.

The route took the 21-year-old past Dunman High School, Broadrick Secondary School, Tanjong Katong Girls’ School and the School of the Arts, and included three stops: First at Marine Terrace Market, famed for selling his favourite chye tow kway dish, followed by the Singtel Comcentre Plaza and finally Raffles City Shopping Centre.

At Marine Terrace Market, Schooling did a quick stop at a chye tow kway stall. The owner of Bee Bee Carrot Cake, Ms Quek Bee Gek, told Channel NewsAsia: "He only ate one big bite and then he left. His parents were here as well."

She added that Schooling and his family have been visiting her stall since he was young.

schooling carrot cake

(Photo: Alvin Toh/SSA)

"Joseph said 'I love you, auntie' to me. Then his parents touched my face," said Ms Quek. "This carrot cake is very popular, a lot of people buy this one. He didn't request for anything special, just the black carrot cake."

The area was packed full of his supporters, all hoping to catch a glimpse of Schooling.

Schooling Marine Terrace Market crowd

(Photo: Justin Ong)

"I didn't expect the turn out to be so big," said Ms Ann Seah, a housewife in her 40s. "I feel proud and united here. It's like one big Marine Parade family. I think it's not every day that this happens; so many people gathering together to witness Joseph Schooling, who used to stay in this neighbourhood, win such a grand Olympic medal.

"I am happy for him. He must be very happy as well."

Jerry Heng, 48, added that Schooling’s win fell at a “nice” time, as it was “just a few days after National Day”.

“There’s a lot of people here, even pre-school children,” he said. “It’s quite surprising, honestly. If you win a gold this is what you get, and this is the first for us so it’s even more special. When I see the news, it’s Joseph Schooling. Wherever I go, it's about Joseph Schooling. It’s really everywhere."

Along the roads, drivers honked after the open-top bus while fans on foot attempted to keep up, shouting cheers for the Olympic medallist.

Video: Cars honk at Schooling bus

The Singtel Comcentre Plaza was also packed with young and old supporters, even before Schooling arrived at the second stop.

I think he is awesome," 10-year-old Sim Sze Hung told Channel NewsAsia. "I woke up at 7am just to be here and I hope he someday breaks the world record."

For 76-year-old Joseph Hooi, the chance to meet Schooling was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"When I read in the press that he was going to be doing a victory parade I made it a point to come here," he said. "I'm already in my 70s, I'm not sure when else I can meet a Singaporean Olympic champion in my lifetime."

Schooling at Singtel Comcentre

(Photo: Calvin Oh)

Because of the crowd, no matter which stop he was at, Schooling had to have a wall of staff surround him as people pressed to get close to him.

schooling ushered at singtel

(Photo: Justin Ong)

At Singtel Comcentre, he greeted the crowd and signed some autographs.

As he continued his parade through Orchard Road and the central business district, students and the working crowd were lined along the streets waiting for him to pass by.

"Joseph! Joseph! Joseph!" they chanted and screamed as he waved to the crowd from the top of the bus.

sota team sg supporters

(Photo: Calvin Oh)

"Thank you auntie! Thank you uncle! Thank you everyone!" Schooling shouted back to the crowds that came out to see him as he made his way across Singapore.

The victory parade finally ended at Raffles City at about 1pm. At Raffles City's atrium, he was greeted by another large crowd of supporters, as well as Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

Along with his parents, he watched the highlights of his 100m butterfly final that earned him his fame.

schooling parents

(Photo: Xabryna Kek)

Schooling stayed until about 2pm, signing autographs and greeting his fans that had come out to show him support.

Video: Schooling parade highlights

(Video: Calvin Oh)

The victory parade marked Schooling’s final public appearance in Singapore before his early Friday morning flight back to the United States, where he studies and trains at the University of Texas.

schooling passes through raffles

(Photo: Calvin Oh)

It also concluded a frenetic round of celebrations since his stunning triumph - and Olympic record-breaking performance - in the 100m butterfly event at Rio 2016 last Saturday.

raffles city schooling crowd

(Photo: Xabryna Kek)

The newly-minted Singaporean superhero was thronged on his return home early Monday morning, and awarded a Parliamentary honour the same afternoon. He then visited his alma mater Anglo-Chinese School Junior the next day before holding his first local press conference and media roundtables - and somehow found the time to have the iconic Olympic rings tattooed on his right bicep.

Singapore’s Olympic medallists have all enjoyed similar victory parades - in 2012 and 2008 after the female table tennis paddlers clinched two bronzes and a silver, respectively; and in 1960 in recognition of weightlifter Tan Howe Liang’s runner-up achievement. The national footballers also went on a victory parade after their last major trophy, won at the 2012 Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.

Source: CNA/jo

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