NEW CLARK CITY, Philippines: It was a faint margin, a tight finish and a close call but Olympic champion Joseph Schooling successfully defended his 100m butterfly SEA Games title by 0.03 seconds at the New Clark City Aquatic Centre on Friday (Dec 6).
Schooling clocked a time of 51.84 to win gold while teammate Quah Zheng Wen finished in second place with a time of 51.87.
"I’d say 3 one-hundredths is pretty close," Schooling told reporters after the race.
"It’s always fun to get up and race each other ... I don’t think I would have gone as fast as I did if I didn’t have this guy next to me.
"I knew I had to bring it tonight and I could have very easily gotten out-touched by him."
Both Schooling and Quah went below the Olympic qualifying mark of 51.96 for the 100m butterfly to book their tickets for Tokyo 2020.
“Most important thing was to get that A cut,” said Schooling. “I’m happy to be able to accomplish what I set out to do tonight.”
The 100m butterfly is Schooling’s pet event; he is the current Olympic record holder with a time of 50.39.
Schooling is also the defending champion in the event and Games record holder - his timing of 51.38 set at the 2017 SEA Games.
The 2016 Olympic champion has had a stranglehold in this event, also winning gold in 2013 and 2015.
This is Schooling’s first individual medal of the Games after only settling for silver in the 50m butterfly on Thursday after he was pipped by teammate Teong Tzen Wei.
As far as his critics go, Schooling said he has “nothing to prove” to them.
"I just swam for myself and the people around and people that supported me," he said.
"I think the longer you swim and the more exposed you get the more you realise that the people closest to you are the most important thing."
Earlier in the day, it was Quah who was the fastest finisher in the heats, clocking 52.18.
Teammate Schooling finished in second place with a time of 52.99.
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