Swimming-Singapore's only Olympic champion Schooling retires


FILE PHOTO: 2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Final - Men's 100m Butterfly Final - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Joseph Schooling (SIN) of Singapore celebrates winning the gold medal. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo

(Reuters) - Joseph Schooling, the swimmer who won Singapore's first and to date only Olympic gold medal in 2016, announced on Tuesday that he had retired from the pool at the age of 28.

Known in the city state as "Singapore's Flying Fish", Schooling stunned the swimming world when he beat his boyhood hero Michael Phelps to win the 100 metres butterfly with a time of 50.39 seconds at the Rio Olympics.

Schooling found it difficult to match that level of global success after 2016, winning a solitary bronze medal at the 2017 world championships and crashing out in the heats in his title defence at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

"Today marks the beginning of a new chapter — I will be retiring from competitive swimming," he said in a message posted on Facebook.

"I am filled with gratitude for every experience that swimming has brought into my life. The victories were exhilarating, the defeats humbling, and together, they have forged a resilience in me that I will carry forward into my next chapter."

The defeats have been more frequent than the victories in the eight years since Rio but Schooling will retire with three Asian Games gold medals and 29 from the Southeast Asian Games.

Schooling was left out of the Singapore team for last year's delayed Asian Games in Hangzhou because two other swimmers had recorded faster times.

He told the Straits Times it was "a bummer" and that he was undecided about his future heading into another Olympic year.

"While I am stepping away from competing, swimming will forever be a part of who I am. It has given me a platform to inspire others to chase their dreams, no matter the odds," he added on Tuesday.

"I am eager to explore new passions, face different challenges, and see where this next phase of life takes me."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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