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S’pore swimmer in Olympics drama

Singapore's Chef-de-Mission Jessie Phua says Singapore has been “robbed” at the Olympic games.

This comes after one of Singapore’s most promising athletes, Joseph Schooling’s performance was affected after officials had told him that his gear (swim cap and goggles) was not permitted for use, reported the TODAY newspaper.

This happened just minutes before the 200-metre butterfly heat.

Schooling’s focus was affected, causing him to come in last with a timing of 1 minute 59.18 seconds – about three seconds shy of his personal best.

Ms Phua told the TODAY newspaper: “We have been robbed. To do this to him so close to such a big race, how could he not have been affected?”

Schooling posted this tweet after the race: "Right before I had to swim the officials tell me I can't use TYR... thanks for messing my swim," he wrote.

TYR is a brand of sports equipment and gear.

The teenager’s mother told the paper: "This must be sorted out quickly, because the swimmer should only be thinking about his race, not such things.”

Meanwhile, Singapore has filed an official complaint to the International Olympic Council.

The newspaper also said that Singapore officials had made checks to ensure their athletes’ swim gear was legit.

But it’s unlikely that anything will be done as FINA (the world governing body for swimming) told the paper that TYR is approved for certain swim gear only and not for caps and goggles. The organisation added that specifications were sent out to all the relevant officials from participating countries and manufacturers as well, according to the report.

While Schooling has been facing criticism from some sports fans for saying "I am extremely disappointed with my time, but I am still only 17" after his Olympic debut, he was given a huge dose of encouragement by none other than his idol Michael Phelps who had also taken part in the same heat.

Schooling told TODAY: "(Phelps) looked at me and asked 'what's wrong?' And I told him what happened. He gave me a hug and said I'm still young and I've got a long way to go, just keep my head high and keep going on."

There’s a chance for Schooling to redeem himself and make a big splash on 2 August in the 100-metre butterfly event and he looks set to do his best according to his latest tweet.

“Champions don't give excuses. That's the past. I'm just going to focus and get ready for the 100m fly.”

Singapore’s swim team will be counting on the 17-year-old to bring some much-needed cheer at the poolside, with Tao Li already crashing out of the games.



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