Colin Schooling, father of Olympic swimming champion Joseph, dies aged 73, Sport News & Top Stories

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SINGAPORE – Colin Schooling, father of Singapore’s only Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, died Thursday, November 18. He was 73 years old.

In recent 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 in the Olympics when he represented Malaysia in the high jump in London 1948, and Colin was a versatile athlete.

Trained at Raffles Institution, Colin tried his hand at hurdles and water polo before becoming a national softball player.

In 1983, he married May Yim, whom he first met at a Pesta Sukan softball tournament in Penang in the 1960s when she was on the Perak team and 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 efforts to help Joseph realize his potential and fulfill his dream of becoming an Olympic champion.

In addition to spending over a million dollars – they sold a house in Perth and cashed in an endowment plan – to fund Joseph’s training in the United States, Colin also painstakingly designed swimming gear that should maybe one day be in the spotlight in the Singapore Sports Museum.

May posted on Instagram on Thursday: “It’s hard to say goodbye, so let’s start with ‘see you later’.

“A loving father, a supportive brother, an outgoing uncle, a faithful friend, my husband. Colin is a character in his own right. Anyone who knows him personally will know what I am talking about. He speaks freely and with passion, and that is is one of the things that I will miss about him.

“He will be missed, but let’s celebrate his release from pain and suffering and reunion with The One above. A tough fighter indeed.”

In 2016, Joseph first hit the wall in the 100m butterfly final at the Rio Olympics, setting a new Games record while beating the great American Michael Phelps.

In February 2017, the Schooling family was named the Singapore Straits Times of the Year 2016.

Colin and May Schooling with the 2016 Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award and an Olympic photo of Joseph at the awards ceremony. PHOTO: ST FILE

But Colin was clear about what mattered most – that his son grew up to be “an officer and a gentleman”.

Joseph interviewed his father for the Wear Oh Where website in 2019, and recalled some of his fondest memories with his father.

There were the sacred “golf games”, the bowling trips in Kuala Lumpur to a hotel with an “old and dilapidated” lane, the makan sessions at the Lagoon hawker center in East Coast Park, and even the simple and regular car rides in which Joseph preferred Colin to May as a driver.

Joseph’s last question to his father was to ask him what his definition of success was.

Colin replied, “Success is being able to look at yourself in the mirror and being comfortable with the image you see reflected.

“As long as you can see yourself and be comfortable, and be happy and content that you haven’t hurt anyone. Just be happy with yourself. I think that’s success.”


Joseph Schooling with his parents May and Colin in Parliament in 2016. Joseph Schooling received a 30-second long standing ovation in Parliament for his historic gold medal at the Rio Olympics. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore National Olympic Council President Tan Chuan-Jin paid tribute to Colin and May. He said, “They didn’t have a textbook or past examples, took the road less traveled, and made huge sacrifices to invest in Joseph’s potential.

“Despite the lack of formal training, Colin’s absolute tenacity meant that he had collected thick compilations of statistics and research over the years, and had this knowledge and information at hand.

“Their belief became the pride of Singapore, and they then selflessly shared their accomplishments with the rest of the country, only hoping that their journey would help lead to more champions. Colin and May led the way and ventured there where few dared.

“In all of my interactions with Colin, despite his son’s success, Colin has always remained grounded and was a quintessential gentleman in every way.

“Colin will be sadly missed and send our deepest condolences to May and Joseph.”


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