Schooling: Fortunate to win fifth award
Singapore's Olympic 100m butterfly champion named Sportsman of the Year for the fifth time
Joseph Schooling won the Sportsman of the Year for a record-extending fifth time at the Singapore Sports Awards last night, but said he was "fortunate" to win the accolade this year.
The reigning Olympic 100m butterfly champion may have won six gold medals - including three relays - at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur last year, as well as the joint bronze in the men's 100m fly at the Fina World Championships, but the 23-year-old "wasn't too happy" with his showing in the last season.
"Based on how I felt last year, I was very fortunate to win this year," said Schooling at the award ceremony at the Marina Bay Sands last night.
"When you go into a competition or awards, you wouldn't want to have any doubts... after 2016 (Rio Olympics), yes, I thought I performed well, but last year I thought I would have done better."
This was his fourth consecutive win in the category. He also triumphed in 2012.
Fellow swimmer Ang Peng Siong (1983-1985) was the only other athlete to win the Sportsman gong thrice in a row.
While he felt his performances last year were below his high standards, Schooling said he is in much better shape to take on the Asian Games in Indonesia next month.
At the 2014 edition in Incheon, South Korea, he won one gold (100m fly), one silver (50m fly) and one bronze (200m fly).
He said: "I am happy the way it turned out (last year) because it opened my eyes: you can't be eating rubbish, drinking soda and staying up late.
"I haven't been this light (in body weight) since Rio, my strength's back up, and I am pulling less body weight with the strength I have and I am really feeling the difference in the pool."
The aquatics fraternity also scooped up several other major titles last night.
Swimming's National Training Centre head coach Gary Tan was named the Coach of the Year, while synchronised swimmer Debbie Soh received the Sportsgirl of the Year accolade.
Soh and the rest of the 2017 SEA Games synchronised swimming team were named the Sportsboy/ Sportsgirl Team of the Year (event).
The 20-year-old Soh, who won three SEA Games golds (solo free, duet technical and team free) in Malaysia, said: "I felt like last year was a series of many peaks... although whether or not we win shouldn't be the main thing that drives us, but it will help us push forward.
"It shows that what we have been doing has been working for us."
The other winners of the main awards were paddler Feng Tianwei (Sportswoman of the Year) and sailor Muhammad Daniel Kei Mohammad Yazid (Sportsboy of the Year).
The women's bowling team won the Team of the Year (event), while the women's floorball team won the Team of the Year (team sport).
Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu were among the guests at the gala event which celebrates Singapore's best sporting talents.
In his speech, Mr Tan, who is Singapore National Olympic Council president, said: "We endeavour to do our best. Can we do better? For sure, always, we want to make sure that we support each and every one of you as best as we can.
"Tonight is a testament of that journey... there will be ups and there will be downs, but I think Singapore has come a long way."