Why not let govt pay for my son? 'I said, Tan ku ku': Joseph Schooling's mum


Belmont Lay | March 06, 2017, 06:07 PM

May Schooling, otherwise known as Joseph Schooling's mother, has let fly.

In a candid Lunch With Sumiko interview with The Straits Times executive editor Sumiko Tan on March 5, 2017, the 62-year-old made it very clear that her son's accomplishments in the pool were never state-sponsored nor taxpayer-financed.

The reality of raising a champion is harsh and she knows it like the back of her hand because it was all down to her and her husband, Colin, 69.

In other words, Joseph Schooling's Olympic Gold medal victory in 2016 was more than 16 years in the making since the boy was five years old.

To paraphrase that with slightly more detail: May and Colin burnt through S$800,000 to S$1 million of their own money sending their son overseas to undergo intense training when he turned 13, all the while splitting time between father and mother to accompany their son and keeping assiduous records of his swimming progress as documented proof of his talent, setting achievable targets year after year for him to personally beat, relying on their own contacts and developing their own know-how in a sport they knew close to nothing about initially, and then having to prepare a water-tight case to convince the Ministry of Defence as to why their son deserves to have his National Service call-up deferred when the time came.

Therefore, when asked why Joseph's studies and training aren't being fully funded by the government, May, known for her forthrightness and verbosity, said:

"I was told, 'Why you so stupid? If Singapore wants your son to swim for them, they should pay.' I said, 'Tan ku ku' (a Hokkien phrase for "it won't happen").

"That's why I keep telling everybody, if you feel your son or daughter has it, it's up to you whether you want to support them. If you're going to wait for people, don't do it, okay?"

The Schoolings' practical approach has paid off:

- 18 medals at the South-east Asia Games, 16 of them gold

- A gold, a silver and a bronze at the Asian Games

- A first-ever swimming medal, a silver, at the Commonwealth Games

- A bronze medal at the Fina World Championships

- An Olympic Gold Medal with a new Games record time

- In 2017, broke three records at a college swimming meet in the United States where he's studying

And it's them. It's all them. Always has been.

You can read the interview here.

Top photo via May Schooling Facebook