Olympic champion Joseph Schooling vowed to “fix” his physique after winning only one individual gold medal at the Southeast Asian Games, less than eight months before his title defence at Tokyo 2020.
The 24-year-old Singaporean famously beat his idol, US legend Michael Phelps, at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the 100m butterfly final, but finds himself out of form and out of shape just seven months away from Tokyo.
Schooling was left red-faced at the SEA Games in the Philippines after losing out twice to younger teammates — Darren Chua pushed him into silver position in the 100m freestyle, and Teong Tzen Wei beat him in the 50m butterfly final.
After a dismal performance at this year’s world championships in South Korea, Schooling decided to bulk up because he felt he had “no power and was weak”, the Straits Times quoted him as saying on Sunday after his defeat to Chua.
But Schooling told the newspaper he was unhappy with his current physical condition, adding he will now have to work out what his best weight will be for Tokyo 2020.
“After this I’m definitely going to sit down and chat with Rico (Singapore Sports Institute’s head of sports nutrition Dr Richard Swinburne) and we’ll fix this,” he said, adding it was now a case of getting “back to the drawing board and getting better each day”.
“Of course, no one likes to lose, that’s why we do this. As long as you give it your all, I can’t be too disappointed in the effort but I’m disappointed with the result.
“This is a good reality check,” he said.
Schooling, who won six gold medals at the last SEA Games in 2017, was part of winning teams in the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays. His final swim is in Monday’s men’s 4x100m medley.