American swimming legend Michael Phelps won five gold medals at the Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro last summer, and he had a chance at winning a sixth in the 100-meter butterfly sprint. It’s an event that Phelps had dominated, winning gold at each of the three prior Olympics, but in the final individual race of his career Phelps famously finished in a three-way tie for second place. And in first place, standing atop the podium ahead of the sport’s elites? None other than Singapore’s Joseph Schooling.
Just 21 years old at the time, Schooling not only took home gold but he also set an Olympic record, breaking the benchmark set by Phelps eight years earlier. Looking back, Schooling says he doesn’t even remember the race itself: “I kind of blacked out for a couple minutes there. You’re so in the zone that you can’t really remember what happens during the race,” says Schooling.
“I just remember, after that race, all of the emotions,” he adds, “It was a roller-coaster ride.”