Singapore’s Schooling snaps up butterfly stroke gold

Singapore's Joseph Schooling compete during the men's 100m butterfly stroke swimming final of the 29th South East Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 23 August 2017
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Singapore’s Schooling snaps up butterfly stroke gold

KUALA LUMPUR: Olympic champion Joseph Schooling said he was searching for inspiration to get his career back on track as he swam to Southeast Asian Games victory in the 100m butterfly stroke on Wednesday.
The Singaporean, who won the event at last year’s Olympics but dropped down to bronze at the world championships in July, said he needed a “different mindset” to chart his path forward.
Schooling won in 51.38sec, a new Games record but well outside his Asian mark of 50.39 from the Rio Olympics, when he stunned his idol Michael Phelps.
Asked whether he had shaken off the complacency that he blamed for his disappointing showing at the Budapest worlds, Schooling laughed and shook his head.
“It’s something that I’m going to have to go back and reassess and head into the new year with a different mindset,” the 22-year-old said.
“Right now I’m here to support my country, to support my team, and I’m not really too worried about what’s going to happen next year.
“I feel like I can do a lot better and this is a good test of my focus and how I can step up, not only for myself but for my team.”
Schooling, blowing hard after his race, said he was feeling the pace halfway through the meet, with three gold medals in the bag. After winning nine titles at the 2015 SEA Games, he is targeting six in Kuala Lumpur.
Longer-term, Schooling is sizing up next year’s Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast and the Asian Games in Jakarta, with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approaching the horizon.
“Coming in to this meet it wasn’t really all about times, it was about the effort that I can give and mentoring the young kids and just being a good role model for them,” he said.
“So I’m pleased with the time, it’s not the best time but I’m happy with the effort that I gave.”
Schooling is spearheading a strong meet for Singapore, which Quah Ting Wen continued when she won the women’s 100m freestyle in a tournament-record 55.74, and then added gold in the 50m butterfly.
Singapore’s Quah Zheng Wen, Ting Wen’s brother, won the men’s 200m backstroke in a new Games mark of 2:00.09, and Singapore also clinched the women’s 4x200m freestyle in a tournament record of 8:10.41.
Malaysia’s Welson Sim won the men’s 200m freestyle in 1:47.79, another new Games mark, adding to the hosts’ table-topping gold-medal haul which stood at 40 after Tuesday’s events.
Earlier on a busy day four, home gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi — criticized by some Malaysians for wearing a “revealing” leotard when she competed in 2015 — won floor exercise gold.
Malaysia’s Jackie Wong hurled a Games-record 65.90m to win the men’s hammer, and the hosts also picked up victory in women’s trio bowling.
Vietnam’s Le Tu Chinh won the 200m in 23.32 to complete the women’s sprint double, while Anthony Beram secured the men’s 200m title for the Philippines.


Benevolence, not bluster: How ‘Brand Salah’ bucks the trend

Updated 29 min 16 sec ago
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Benevolence, not bluster: How ‘Brand Salah’ bucks the trend

  • Mohamed Salah lines up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday
  • Mohamed Salah has been unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region

LONDON: On Saturday Mohamed Salah will line up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
He will do so not only with the every member of the Red army behind him, but also the entire Arab world.
That is testament to his stratospheric rise — over the past nine months the Egyptian ace has gone from being a very good player, but one deemed as needing to justify his $52 million transfer fee, to a global superstar and cultural phenomenon.
As with any sporting star, with the adulation and attention comes potential pitfalls and, invariably, a new lexicon. So it was not surprising to hear the 25-year-old speak of “his brand” when he was unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region on Wednesday. Stars becoming brands is almost cliche now and one that Salah has clearly taken on board — he now has even his own logo.
“We are proud of him. Over the past two years, no has done what he has done. He has proved himself as one of the best and we wanted to deal with no one else, just him,” CEO of DHL in the Middle East and North Africa, Nour Suliman, said. “He is competing on another level and is the star of the Arab world. No one in the Arab world has done what he is doing. We are very proud to have him.”
Those types of corporate events, where a big multinational signs a deal with the latest big, young thing, lend themselves to the odd dollop of hyperbole. But there is little doubting the impact Salah has had on the pitch for Liverpool and Egypt, and off it in becoming a true Arab icon. And his utterance of the word “brand” is where Salah as a walking cliche begins and ends.
Every year in Egypt ahead of Ramadan the best dates are named after the most popular person in the country — the man or woman revered by the nation at that moment. In the past, the staple food of the holy month has tended to be named after political leaders.
This year there was no competition: The most succulent date has been named after Salah. At the DHL press conference he was presented with a packet of dates emblazoned with his face and name.
It said much about the man that he both looked and confessed to being “embarrassed.”
This week the British Museum in London displayed Salah’s green football boots as part of its Modern Egypt exhibition. And in a documentary about the player broadcast in the UK, he was credited with increasing attendances at England’s oldest mosque in Liverpool and improving the image of Islam by Dr. Abdul Hamid, a trustee at the mosque.
So while the signing of big deals hints he is very much the modern-day footballing superstar, everything else off the pitch suggests something else.
Salah is on social media, but does not, like many sports stars, live on it; he knows he is a hero for many, but pays more than mere lip service to his position as a role model; and he embraces attention (of both opposition defenders and fans) rather than seemingly getting annoyed by it if things are not going his way.
“I am not heavy into social media, I am on it and aware of it, but I don’t follow it that closely. It does not influence me,” he said.
“I am aware young people look up to me and I feel great that they do and that I can influence a young footballer to play better or train harder, or do better; that that makes me proud.”
This season Salah has done what few footballers have done before, transcend the game, and he has done so in a way characterized by benevolence rather than bluster.
Against Real Madrid he can again illustrate just what a talent he is — and if he does lead Liverpool to their sixth European Cup triumph, you get the feeling he will not let the adulation go to his head.