Joseph Schooling's father Colin dies after cancer battle, aged 73

·3 min read
Colin Schooling (centre) with his son Joseph (left) and wife May after Joseph returned from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics with Singapore's first-ever gold medal.
Colin Schooling (centre) with his son Joseph (left) and wife May after Joseph returned from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics with Singapore's first-ever gold medal. (PHOTO: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Colin Schooling, father of Singapore's first and only Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling, died on Thursday (18 November) at age 73.

The retired businessman, who was a former national softball player, had been undergoing treatment in the past few months after being diagnosed with liver cancer. 

"Reginald Colin Schooling passed away today at the Singapore General Hospital with his loving family by his side," a family spokesperson said.

"Colin was a giant among men. He would always tell you what he thought, no holds barred. We will miss him tremendously.

"The Schooling family would like to thank everyone for their support and words of comfort during this tough time. We respectfully appreciate the privacy given to the family during this period."

Colin's wife May also put up a Facebook post saying that he had been a "tough fighter" throughout his cancer battle.

"It is hard to say goodbye, so let's begin with 'see you again'," she wrote. 

"A loving father, a supportive brother, an outgoing uncle, a loyal friend, my husband. Colin is a character on its own. All who personally know him, will know what I'm talking about. He speaks freely and passionately, and that is one of the things that I will miss about him. 

"He will be missed but let's celebrate his freedom from pain and suffering and his reunion with The One above. A tough fighter indeed."

Versatile athlete and national softball player

Colin's uncle was Lloyd Valberg, the first Singaporean to compete at the Olympics in London in 1948. Valberg's accomplishments had inspired a young Joseph to follow in his footsteps and compete at the quadrennial sporting extravaganza.

Colin himself was a versatile athlete, dabbled with track and field as well as water polo before going on to become a softball player.

He married May Yim in 1983, having known her since the 1960s when she was part of the Perak state softball team. After three miscarriages, Joseph was born in 1995.

During an interview with Yahoo News Singapore in April, Colin and May spoke about their rollercoaster experience in support of Joseph's bid for Olympic glory.

“If you love your children unconditionally, you make sure they have passion in what they do and then you indulge yourselves in that passion with them," Colin said then.

In offering condolences, the Singapore Swimming Association said in a Facebook post, "Colin was a strong supporter of the SSA and the swimming ecosystem here in Singapore, and was instrumental in Joseph's rise to becoming Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist. Our hearts go out to the family and relatives of the Schooling family."

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong also put up a Facebook post saying that he was saddened to hear of Colin's passing.

"He’s lost his last fight, but the silver lining is that he’s no longer suffering. As an elite sportsman himself, he believed in the power of sport. He knew how sports was such a great leveller, could change lives, bridge communities and build society. My conversations with him, long before I came into MCCY, has helped shape my own views on sports.

"Colin and May were also the first to believe in Joseph. That unstinting unshakeable belief, backed by years of hard work, sacrifice, and much struggle, led to Singapore’s capstone moment in our sporting history, an Olympic Gold. We have much to be grateful for."

He added that Colin's tenacity and courage of conviction in sports is a legacy he leaves for Singapore.

"My deepest condolences to May, Joseph and family. Rest In Peace, Colin."

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