02 August 17 The Straits Times by NICOLE CHIA
They were both in good spirits as they entered the arrival hall at Changi Airport Terminal One yesterday, happy to be back home for a couple of weeks.
Yet the smiles on the faces of Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen did not hide their resolve to do better after the Fina swimming World Championships - both in the near future as well as in the long term.
After their exertions in Budapest last week, the duo will next compete in the Aug 19-30 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, where they have a packed schedule.
And, perhaps due to their performances in Hungary, they are keen to put up strong showings there.
Quah, who did not progress beyond the heats in any of his five events last month, is relishing another opportunity to race at the SEA Games.
"Although it's not going to mean the same thing to me as the worlds, it's definitely an honour to represent Singapore and step on the blocks to race wherever I am," said Quah, who is set to race in seven events in his fourth appearance at the biennial event.
By the next World Championships, Asian Games or Commonwealth Games, I want to be on the podium and set myself up well for the Olympic Games in 2020.
QUAH ZHENG WEN, winner of seven golds at the 2015 SEA Games, wants to win a medal at a bigger meet.
FOR THE RECORD
I don't want to put a timestamp on when I'm going to do it but that's definitely what I'm looking at for sure, and that's definitely still my goal.
JOSEPH SCHOOLING, 100m fly Olympic champion, on his desire to break the world record in the event.
"I think the SEA Games will give me some opportunities to do better in certain things and I'll be trying out new race plans, so hopefully it'll go well."
For Schooling, this homecoming before the Games is the balm that could soothe the wounds of a "disappointing" outing at the world championships, where he won a 100m butterfly bronze.
"(Being back) on home ground, eating the food I like, and meeting my family and friends, it makes me feel a lot better," said the Olympic 100m fly champion, who did not meet his goals of setting a world record in the event, or winning the 50m fly and 100m fly events.
Like his team-mate Quah, Schooling is also eager to excel in his six events at Kuala Lumpur's National Aquatic Centre.
Asked what his targets are, he replied: "Winning all my events and doing as best as I can for Singapore.
"We've always had a great swimming tradition at the SEA Games and we have a young but solid group going, and I think we have the potential to do something special there."
Singapore won 23 swimming golds at the previous Games on home soil, and Schooling added with a grin: "(The 2015 Games) was so great for us, but I think it'd be nice to go to Malaysia's backyard and teach them a thing or two.
"I think we're all looking forward to the SEA Games, it'll be a lot of fun."
The 22-year-old has not given up on his target of setting a 100m fly world record, although he admitted it is unlikely to happen at the Games.
"Maybe my next big meet, maybe the Commonwealth Games or Asian Games. I don't want to put a timestamp on when I'm going to do it but that's definitely what I'm looking at for sure, and that's definitely still my goal," he said.
"(The world championships are) still going to be on my mind until I do something about it... I'm going to use it as motivation, practise every day, put in 110 per cent."
Quah, who was welcomed home by his parents and sisters Ting Wen and Jing Wen at the airport, expressed similar determination.
"I think something to take away from this meet is to just be really focused and keep your eyes on the prize no matter what," the 20-year-old said.
"Anything can happen in the heats, you never really know how fast people are going to go after you... You can't get too overconfident, you've got to really keep yourself sharp."
On his long-term targets, he added: "By the next World Championships, Asian Games or Commonwealth Games, I want to be on the podium and set myself up well for the Olympic Games in 2020.
"The SEA Games are coming up so I'm looking forward to that and spending time with the team back home. It'll be fun."
National head coach Stephan Widmer was at the arrival hall to greet his top two swimmers, and he said that success at the SEA Games will not be measured by the Republic's medal haul, but how well the Singapore swimmers perform under pressure.
"To me, the most important part is that they execute all of the things the coaches worked towards with them," said Widmer, who started work in Singapore last month.
"Success is being under pressure, exposed to this environment and, for some swimmers, the SEA Games is the biggest meet of their lives. How they handle that determines their success."