SINGAPORE, 16 February 2017 - Olympic swimming champion Joseph Schooling was named The Straits Times Athlete of the Year 2016 in a gala ceremony on Thursday (Feb 16).
The 21-year-old claimed Singapore's first Olympic gold medal when he won the 100m butterfly in 50.39 seconds in Rio de Janiero last August.
He edged out fellow nominees Peter Gilchrist (billiards), Yip Pin Xiu (Paralympics - swimming), Sheik Farhan Sheik Ala'uddin (silat) and New Hui Fen (bowling) to become the first athlete to be a repeat winner of the prestigious annual award. Schooling first won the award two years ago.
Schooling, who is a student at the University of Texas in Austin, "joined" the ceremony via a Skype call.
His parents, Colin and May Schooling, received the award on his behalf from the Guest-of-Honour, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Grace Fu, at the One Farrer Hotel & Spa.
He said: "I'm very fortunate to win this award, I couldn't have done it without my parents, close friends and support group. Thank you for sticking with me through thick and thin."
Ms Fu noted that 2016 was an extraordinary year for sport in Singapore.
"We witnessed the power of sport in inspiring and rallying the entire nation. Singaporeans from all walks of life came together to cheer on our Team Singapore athletes and celebrated our nation’s sporting achievements with immense pride."
She also reiterated the government's commitment to sports excellence, telling the audience of 160, which included athletes and their families, sports officials, student-athletes as well as members of the public: "Rest assured we will do our part in giving you the best support possible."
However, she also reminded athletes that they too had a role to play in promoting sport.
She said: "I hope you will also continue to do your part, in and out of the sporting arena.
"Always keep in mind that you are a role model for others, so you have an important role to play in giving back to the community.
"Get people connected with Team Singapore through social media. Inspire your juniors by visiting your alma mater. Encourage others to live better through sport. Connect with fellow Singaporeans so that we can continue to stand united and proud as One Team Singapore, when you fly the Singapore flag high."
ST Sports Editor Lee Yulin, who headed the 2016 award's nine-member judging panel, noted: "While this is a very strong cohort of nominees, Joseph was the obvious choice.
"His Olympic gold medal is a major breakthrough for Singapore's sporting landscape, for it shows that someone born and bred here can become a winner at sport's highest levels.
"He has inspired thousands of Singaporeans, young and old, to believe and pursue their dreams and we at ST believe that is why he deserves to be named the ST Athlete of the Year."
100Plus has been the title sponsor for this award since 2009.
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The Straits Times, the English-language flagship daily of Singapore Press Holdings, is the most-read newspaper in Singapore and is followed widely in the region for its comprehensive coverage of local, regional and world news, provided by its correspondents in 20 bureaus in major cities worldwide.
Launched on July 15, 1845, The Straits Times underwent a major redesign across all platforms in July 2015, when it celebrated its 170th anniversary. This revamp is part of its continuing efforts to refresh its products, maintain quality and stay relevant to the changing needs of its readers. Its integrated newsroom operates round-the-clock, providing readers with news as it happens on all platforms, from its website at www.straitstimes.com, Apple and Android apps to social media.
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