HANOI: Singapore's Joseph Schooling successfully defended his 100m butterfly crown on Monday (May 16) after clocking a time of 52.22 to claim victory at the My Dinh Water Sports Palace in Hanoi.
Schooling won the event ahead of fellow Singaporean Quah Zheng Wen and Thailand's Wongcharoen Navaphat. This is his first medal of the 31st SEA Games and he remains unbeaten in the 100m butterfly since the 2013 Games.
"I think the timing was kind of irrelevant for this one. It's more about just stepping up and try(ing) to get your hand on the wall first," Schooling told reporters.
"The start was a little iffy, but at the end of the day, everyone's stepping off the same blocks ... Overall I'm just really happy to get my one and only individual (race) out of the way. I wish I could be doing more but you just swim the best you can when you're called upon and like I said, I think the team did very well today, not just myself."
Later in the evening, Schooling combined with Quah, Jonathan Tan and Maximillan Ang to win the men’s 4x100m medley. Schooling, Quah, Tan and Ang won in a time of 3:37.69 ahead of Vietnam and Thailand.
It remains to be seen if Schooling will also feature in the 4x200m freestyle relay later in the competition. At the last Games, he was part of the team that won gold.
"I don't know. If I have to, I will step up and do it," said Schooling, who along with teammate Quah is currently serving National Service.
The 2016 Rio Olympic champion endured a challenging 2021 which saw him unable to defend his 100m butterfly title at the Tokyo Olympics.
Schooling, 26, who is now serving National Service, competed in his first meet since the Tokyo Olympics in March at the 52nd SNAG Major Games Qualifier.
There, he clocked 52.09 in the 100m butterfly finals - his best time in more than two years.
At the last SEA Games in the Philippines in 2019, Schooling won the 100m butterfly gold in 51.84.
When asked about winning his pet event five times in a row at the Games, Schooling said he did not know about the streak, but it made him feel "kind of old".
"At the end of the day, five in a row is great. Looking for maybe six next time, I don't know. But like I said, you can't ask for a better result today."