“My heartiest congratulations to Joseph Isaac Schooling for his historic gold medal win. It is an incredible feat to compete among the world’s best – stay focused and emerge victorious.
“You made us very proud today.”
But to many Singaporeans following Schooling’s Olympic journey, it was all about the emotions of seeing him meet his childhood idol back in the Olympic swimming pool – eight years after they first met.
Many on Facebook shared memes and photos of the swimmers’ meeting in 2008.
“[This must have been playing out] in Joseph’s mind: Doesn’t matter if I win or lose, it was an honour to compete in Olympic swimming besides my childhood idol,” said Koyuki Everdeen.
“I can really see that he put in a lot of hardwork and effort. And that’s why he won first place.”
Keith Power said: “Just shows the influence sports stars can have on impressionable young minds. He was obviously inspired – well done Joseph!”
Oli To thinks it must have been “a dream come true” for the Singapore swimmer.
“To swim and compete with Michael Phelps, Joseph is a winner and world-class whether he wins an Olympic medal or not.”
“Their difference in timing was only a fraction of a second.”