Sports

Chinese Swimmer Fu Yuanhui Finding out She Won a Medal is the Best Thing at the Olympics

A reporter surprised Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui with news that she won a medal.
August 10, 2016, 7:02pm

[Here is where we would embed video of Fu Yuanhui's reaction to learning from a reporter that she won a bronze medal if the IOC weren't so dumb and annoying, but if you google "Fu Yuanhui reaction" you can see what we're talking about.]

Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui captured a third-place medal in the Women's 100m Backstroke and then captured the world's heart with her delightful post-race interview. Fu starts off the brief poolside chat with her unbridled joy at setting a new Asian record of 58.76 --"Wow! Too fast!"-- before noting that unlike her qualifying race, Monday night's effort had nothing to do with mystical powers. Adding, that the silver was out of reach because her arms are too short. (Oddly, the interviewer then rubs them for good measure.)

This is all warm-up for the big moment, when Fu finds out she won a bronze, becoming the first Chinese swimmer to do so in the backstroke. Unaware as she toweled off, her supremely wonderful expressions at finding out she medaled -- "Well, then I think that's not bad at all!" -- before limping off has made her the darling of Rio.

The Olympics have a way of minting folk heroes, which has been ratcheted way up in the social media age. According to the BBC, the 20-year-old Fu went from 400,000 followers to more than four-million on the Chinese platform Weibo in two days. Popular Chinese actor Jia Nailiang made a self-aggrandizing tribute video that folks flocked to and naturally, for the kids, emojis of their national hero.

What's really special about Fu's masterful performance outside the pool is that traditionally, China only showed love for gold medalists, and athletes kept their personalities under wraps. Not Fu, whose zest for life won't be denied. It's a new day in China filled with "heavy flavor" for the people's 冠军.