SPO_240402 SCHOOLING1-1712067292589
Singapore's Joseph Schooling poses with his gold medal on the podium of the men's 100m butterfly final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Image Credit: AFP file

Singapore: Joseph Schooling, who famously beat his idol Michael Phelps in Rio to become Singapore’s first and only Olympic champion, said on Tuesday he was retiring from competitive swimming.

Schooling made the announcement on social media eight years after stunning the world by beating American great Phelps to win 100-metre butterfly gold.

Schooling failed to qualify for the same event at Tokyo 2020 and his career started to ebb after winning gold medals in the 50 and 100-metre butterfly at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter — I will be retiring from competitive swimming,” the 28-year-old said on Instagram.

“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.”

In an interview with the Straits Times newspaper, Schooling said he had become complacent.

schooling new
Joseph Schooling felt that his success along with ego and pride has been the cause for his downfall. A lesson learnt the hardway. Image Credit: AFP file

“My mistake was the complacency to think that this will last forever because I’m so far ahead,” he said.

“Add on ego, add on pride. Add on that ‘I’m never going to be shut down attitude’. That’s a recipe for complacency. That’s one of the lessons that I learnt.”

Not at his best level

Doubts were cast on his future when he pulled out of last year’s Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games, saying he was “not at the level” to do his best.

Schooling, who has performed two years of mandatory military service, was mired in controversy in 2022 after confessing to taking cannabis overseas.

Strict warning

Schooling was given a warning and placed on a supervised urine test regime for six months. He was also made no longer eligible for leave to train or compete during his military service.

“While I am stepping away from competing, swimming will forever be a part of who I am,” he said.

“It has given me a platform to inspire others to chase their dreams, no matter the odds.”

Schooling told the Straits Times he was now going to work with two venture capital partners in the “health and wellness, tech and sustainability” sectors, and play more golf.