SINGAPORE – Colin Schooling, father of Singapore’s only Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, died on Thursday (Nov 18). He was 73.
In the past few months, the former national softball player and retired businessman had undergone treatment after being diagnosed with liver cancer in June.
His uncle was Lloyd Valberg, who was the first Singaporean to compete at the Olympics when he represented Malaya in the high jump event at London 1948, and Colin was a versatile athlete.
Educated at Raffles Institution, Colin dabbled with hurdling and water polo before going on to become a national softball player.
In 1983, he married May Yim, whom he had first met at a Pesta Sukan softball tournament in Penang in the 1960s when she was part of the Perak team and he was representing the Republic in the Pirates team.
After three miscarriages, Joseph was born in 1995.
With their only child showing an aptitude and desire for competitive swimming, Colin and May spared no resources and effort to help Joseph fulfil his potential and realise his dream of becoming an Olympic champion.
On top of spending in excess of $1 million – they sold a house in Perth and cashed out on an endowment plan – to finance Joseph’s training stint in the United States, Colin also painstakingly devised swimming contraptions that perhaps should one day take pride of place in the Singapore Sports Museum.
In 2016, Joseph touched the wall first in the 100m butterfly final at the Rio Olympics, setting a new Games record while beating American great Michael Phelps.
In February 2017, the Schooling family were named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2016.
But Colin was clear what mattered most – that his son grew up to become “an officer and a gentleman”.
Joseph interviewed his father for the website Wear Oh Where in 2019, and recalled some of his fondest memories with his dad.
There were the sacred “golf games”, bowling trips to Kuala Lumpur at a hotel with an “old and run down” alley, the makan sessions at the Lagoon hawker centre at East Coast Park, and even the regular, simple car rides in which Joseph preferred Colin to May as the driver.
A post shared by May (@cmjschooling)
Joseph’s last question for his father was to ask what his definition of success was.
Colin replied: “Success is being able to look at yourself in the mirror, and be comfortable with the image that you see reflected.
“So long as you can see yourself and be comfortable, and be happy and satisfied that you have done no wrong to anybody. Just being happy with yourself. I think that is success.”
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