One more SEA Games? 'We'll see', says Joseph Schooling after wrapping up with 2 golds, 1 bronze in Hanoi
HANOI: It was not the high he would have wanted to end his campaign on, making the question that most reporters had even more pertinent: Is Joseph Schooling coming back for more?
"I'm not sure yet. We'll see," was the reply from the 28-time SEA Games gold medallist.
Schooling wrapped up the 2022 edition in Vietnam with 2 golds and a bronze on Tuesday (May 17), that third-place finish coming in his final swim in Hanoi, in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
"We've got to plan the rest of the year after this meet, definitely some positives and some things to work on especially," said Schooling. "But at the end of the day, we've still got two more days of the meet. I'm just looking forward to getting into the stands and cheering my team on."
When asked about the factors that would determine his participation at the Cambodia SEA Games next year, the 26-year-old declined to go into detail.
"Let's just see. I'm definitely looking forward to the next few days, we'll sit down and talk about it. Asian Games getting postponed is a huge bummer, but (we'll) try to find a meet, we'll try to see what we can work with and we'll go from there."
The 31st SEA Games has been a mixed bag for the 2016 Olympic champion.
On Monday, he successfully defended his 100m butterfly title by clocking a time of 52.22 in a one-two finish with compatriot Quah Zheng Wen.
He then picked up a second gold, teaming up with Quah, Jonathan Tan and Maximillian Ang to win the 4x100m medley, ahead of Vietnam and Thailand.
Two days before, Schooling, Quah, Tan and Mikkel Lee had touched home first in the 4x100m freestyle relay but were - along with Malaysia - later disqualified, leaving Vietnam to take gold, Indonesia the silver and Thailand the bronze.
Singapore's swimming national head coach Gary Tan would later refute reports that it was Schooling who had taken off early, resulting in the disqualification.
"Gary is the buffer towards that (noise)," said Schooling. "Honestly, I didn't see any noise for that one ... Drowning out the noise comes with the territory and the more you do it the easier it gets."
Schooling however held his hand up for his role in the 4x200m freestyle relay on Tuesday. Singapore finished third, behind Malaysia and Vietnam, who set a new Games record of 7:16.31.
"It was definitely my leg that let my team down for sure. Very disappointed with that," said Schooling who was the third leg swimmer. "But at the end of the day, it's a team effort and to get on the podium is still something. Just got to go back and work harder, let this motivate us."
National head coach Gary Tan praised Schooling for his effort at the Games.
"I think Joe needs to be very pleased with himself. He swam a good 100 fly. This 200 free was tough for him, with (national service) commitment(s) again like he's had, both of them (Quah and Schooling) ... You could tell the back-end was tough for them," said Tan.
"I think Joe has put in 110 per cent effort on this and you cannot question an effort like that."