Cover Photo: Yifan Ding/Getty Images

A lot has been written about this young athlete but here are some facts you might not know about Tatler's June 2021 cover star

Joseph Isaac Schooling is arguably one of Singapore's most successful and notable athletes. After winning Singapore’s first and only Olympic gold in 2016, he shot to instant fame and very quickly became one of the country's darlings. 

Related: Joseph Schooling on Defending His Olympic Gold and Life After Swimming

Since his big win, Schooling has participated in a number of swimming competitions including the 2019 SEA Games where he was beat by his teammate, Darren Chua in the men's 100m freestyle. Schooling took home second place at the competition and faced a lot of criticism about him losing his edge.

Schooling has since been preparing for the Tokyo Olympics which were supposed to be held in 2020 but has been postponed to 2021 in light of the pandemic. Covid-19 essentially bought him an extra year of preparing for the competition which Schooling is certainly grateful for considering the many changes he has had to face with the closure of pools and having to leave the United States to come back to Singapore when the borders closed. 

This month, Schooling is the cover star of Tatler's June 2021 issue and it's safe to say we were excited to catch up with the young athlete. But first, keep reading to find out everything you didn't know about him.

Related: Joseph Schooling Launches His Very Own Skincare Brand, JS Orphic

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He was awarded $1 million for his Olympic gold medal

Did you know that when Schooling beat the famous Michael Phelps in the 2016 Rio Olympics and took home the Olympic gold medal, he was also awarded S$1 million?

The reward for winning a gold medal at the Olympic gold is S$1 million under the Singapore National Olympic Council's Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme. While student-athletes are not allowed to accept prize money according to rules by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, it does not apply to foreign athletes such as Schooling.

Since his big win, Schooling has also received many endorsements and commercial deals with huge brands such as Hugo Boss and Tag Heuer.

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He isn't the only Olympian in his family

While Schooling is certainly the first Singaporean to win an Olympic gold medal, he is not actually the first in his family to compete in the prestigious competition. In fact, Schooling's great-uncle, Lloyd Valberg, was an Olympic high jumper in the 1948 games which took place in London. This was the same city where Schooling later made his Olympic debut. 

Valberg was Singapore’s first high jumper to make the Olympics as well, which was a source of extreme pride to our small nation. 

Related: Celebrating Tag Heuer With Daniel Ricciardo And Joseph Schooling

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He does not always eat right

As an athlete who reportedly trains six days a week with up to two training sessions per day, Schooling is clearly very fit. While he has said that he tries to stay away from fried food and fattening salad dressings, he does have his favourite guilty pleasures such as black carrot cake, Burger King or Mcdonald's.

He also said in the past that he loves to request extra lard when he orders mee pok because it is one of his favourite foods. 

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The closing of pools did not stop him from training during the pandemic

When Covid-19 began to spread around the world and Singapore closed its borders, Schooling decided to return home. He was in the United States training for Tokyo 2020 which was postponed soon after.

However, due to the Covid-19 restrictions in Singapore, Schooling saw all pools being shut down. However, that didn't stop the athlete.

In fact, he said that his trainers gave him detailed fitness plans that focused on land training so that he could keep up. He focused a lot on conditioning and his technique while he was stuck indoors during the peak of the pandemic in Singapore. 

Related: Everything We Know About the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games Happening in July 2021

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He continues to defer his national service duties

Schooling has been allowed to defer his compulsory two-year national service since 2014. Usually, national service is undertaken by all Singaporean men after they complete school. 

The decision to allow him to defer his national duty was done so that he could concentrate on the 2016 Olympics. However, it was again deferred so he could focus on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. An extension was granted when the Tokyo games were postponed. He is expected to carry out national service once the Olympics are over.

Related: Breaking News: Joseph Schooling Is Hugo Boss' First Singaporean Ambassador