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Joseph Schooling bags hat-trick at Singapore Sports Awards

Sitting casually on a sofa as he spoke to TODAY in a Facebook Live interview, national swimmer Joseph Schooling suddenly broke into a smile as news filtered through to him that he had been named Singapore’s Sportsman of the Year once again.

SINGAPORE — Sitting casually on a sofa as he spoke to TODAY in a Facebook Live interview, national swimmer Joseph Schooling suddenly broke into a smile as news filtered through to him that he had been named Singapore’s Sportsman of the Year once again.

While the 21-year-old, who is currently over 16,000km away in Florida training for the Olympics, was unable to receive the accolade in person at yesterday’s Singapore Sports Awards at Raffles City Convention Centre, there was no hiding his delight at having secured his third Sportsman of the Year award.

The butterfly specialist beat sailor Colin Cheng, canoeist Mervyn Toh and paddler Gao Ning to the award, and can now add it to his collection from previous victories in 2012 and last year.

Reflecting on an immensely successful 2015, which saw him win a historic bronze medal in the 100m butterfly final at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Schooling told TODAY: “It’s always an honour and pleasure to win (such an award). I am really happy that I could win and I want to thank the people who have always supported me.

“It’s hard to keep this type of life up. But, at the end of the day, we all do something for someone or something that keeps us going. On the days that I don’t feel like doing things for myself, I do it for my parents and the people around me.

“I will not be celebrating this just yet. But it is a confidence booster that keeps me going. After Rio, I can celebrate all I want but right now, I am fully focused on the Olympics.”

Schooling was not the only big winner on the night. In the Sportswoman of the Year category, bowler Shayna Ng overcame stern competition from shooter Jasmine Ser, canoeist Stephenie Chen and table tennis star Feng Tianwei to take home the coveted title.

The 27-year-old, who created history by becoming the first Singaporean to win gold at the World Bowling Women Championships last year, said: “It feels great to win this award and to lift this trophy again, and seeing my name here from two years ago is extraordinary. Our wins at this year’s awards also shows that the sport has come a long way. It’s a pity we’re not an Olympic sport, but we’re moving in the right direction for sure.”

There was further cheer for swimming as it snagged two more awards, with Quah Zheng Wen — the most bemedalled athlete at last year’s SEA Games — clinching the Sportsboy of the Year award, while Sergio Lopez was crowned Coach of the Year for the second time in a row.

Meanwhile, netball retained its Team of the Year (Team Sport) award following its gold-medal exploits at the SEA Games, while bowler Joey Yeo was crowned Sportsgirl of the Year. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ADELENE WONG

SINGAPORE SPORTS AWARDS: THE WINNERS

Sportsman of the Year: Joseph Schooling (swimming)

Sportswoman of the Year: Shayna Ng (bowling)

Sportsboy of the Year: Quah Zheng Wen (swimming)

Sportsgirl of the Year: Joey Yeo (bowling)

Coach of the Year: Sergio Lopez (swimming)

Sportsboy/Sportsgirl Team of the Year (Event): Daniel Hung, James Koh, Jodie Lai, Koh Yi Nian, Muhd Daniel Kei Bin Muhd Yazid (sailing — Optimist Team, Optimist World Championship)

Team of the Year (Event): Cherie Tan, New Hui Fen, Shayna Ng (bowling — Trios, World Bowling Women Championships)

Team of the year (Team Sport): Netball

Best Sports Event of the Year (Local): Great Eastern Women’s Run 2015

Best Sports Event of the Year (International): BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore Presented by SC Global

Most Inspiring Sports Story of the Year: “On his travels, patience is the greatest weapon” — Rohit Brijnath, The Sunday Times, (Nov 22, 2015)

Special Award for Sportsmanship: Ashley Liew (athletics)

Special Award for Fortitude: Zhu Xiaoping (rhythmic gymnastics)

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