Joseph Schooling's Mother Pens Heartfelt Letter Following His Retirement

Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medallist, Joseph Schooling, 28, has announced his retirement from swimming (April 2, 2024), sharing his plans to play golf and work in the venture capital space with two partners in the sectors of “health and wellness, tech and sustainability”.

The athlete captured global attention when he beat his childhood hero, American legend Michael Phelps to win gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics — Singapore’s sole Olympic gold medal to date. And throughout, his family has supported him wholeheartedly. Seeing their only child’s talent and passion for competitive swimming, the late Colin Schooling (who passed away in 2021) and his wife May held nothing back, dedicating every possible resource and effort to support Joseph in achieving his dream of becoming an Olympic champion. In a letter published on The Straits Times, May Schooling wrote to her son:

Dear son,

You will always be the greatest joy in my memories, and also the reason why I stay awake sometimes and worry! It’s like I closed my eyes for a moment and a beautiful man stands where my baby used to be! Thank you for taking us on this unbelievable journey and adventure.

I really don’t know how we made it there on our own, but we loved every moment of it. There were many sacrifices for our family, but these sacrifices were the glue that kept us, and are still continuing to keep us together.

Your dream of winning an Olympic gold medal from young kept the fire burning in our hearts and helped us understand how far love, perseverance and hard work can take a person.

All we wanted for you was to be happy, believe and achieve your dream. And when you achieved your dream of winning an Olympic gold medal, you helped many people in Singapore understand that while dreams may be elusive, they are not impossible. They can now believe in your motto, “Dare to Dream”!

I want you to always have the Dream. To always believe deep in your heart that you can, and that you are capable of doing anything once you set your mind to it! You never lose! You either WIN or LEARN!

So, both you and I are transitioning to the next phase of life. I could not be more proud of the man you are and will be.

You’ve moved into Dad’s office, working there and making plans.

I am excited for the future as I know you will put the same determination, focus and hard work into what comes next. Be true to yourself and live your dream.

I cannot promise that I will be there for the rest of your life, but I do promise that I love you more than anything else in the world, and I will love you for the rest of my life.

Love forever,


A version of this article was first published on The Straits Times. Additional text: Michelle Lee