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China's Fu Yuanhui: The Happiest Olympian?

Fu Yuanhui of China, left, shows her medal from the 2016 Rio Olympics. (REUTERS/David Gray)
Fu Yuanhui of China, left, shows her medal from the 2016 Rio Olympics. (REUTERS/David Gray)
China's Fu Yuanhui: The Happiest Olympian?
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This is What’s Trending Today…

Fu Yuanhui is an Olympic swimmer. She is 20 years old and from the Chinese city of Hangzhou. She competed in the 100-meter backstroke event this week in Rio de Janeiro. She finished third in her semi-final swim on August 7.

Shortly after the semi-finals, Fu became a trending topic on Chinese social media. A short time later, she became a trending topic around the world.

It was not her swimming, however, that made her famous. It was some of the comments she made afterward.

A Chinese reporter spoke with Fu after the semi-finals. The reporter told her that she swam the race in under 59 seconds. This seems to shock Fu.

“58.95?” Fu said with excitement. “I was really fast!” She told the reporter that she used “mystical powers” in her swim.

Her shock, joy and honesty won her many friends in China -- and around the world. People began making GIFs of her excited facial expressions. Those images spread quickly.

One American swimming coach wrote on Twitter: “Our swimmers are great, but Fu Yuanhui from China is easily my favorite.”

Another American wrote, “Fu Yuanhui from China is the most adorable person on the planet.”

Even the Huffington Post website called her, the “most lovable athlete at the Rio Olympics.”

Fu’s fame only grew on August 9, when she competed in the 100-meter backstroke finals. She beat her semi-final time. She swam the race in 58.76 seconds. It was fast enough to earn her a share of the bronze medal. She tied for third place with Kylie Masse of Canada.

Her comments after the race won Fu even more followers in China and around the world.

At first, the swimmer said she does not think she won a medal. She said she is still pleased with her time because she beat the Asian record.

A reporter told her that she was just .01 seconds behind the silver medal winner. Fu said she couldn’t reach second place because her “arms are too short.”

Fu started to say even though she "did not win a medal...” when the reporter corrected her.

“But you got a medal. You are third,” the reporter said.

“Huh?” she said.

Fu looked around in shock. “I didn’t know!”

She then said, “Well, then I think that’s not bad at all!”

Her reaction and personality have made Fu Yuanhui one of China’s -- and the world’s -- favorite Olympians.

The New York Times newspaper wrote Thursday of the swimmer, “Rather than mere happiness at her performances, Ms. Fu, 20, exhibits something closer to pure joy, bouncing around and making animated faces.”

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I'm Mehrnoush Karimian-Ainsworth


Words in This Story

mystical - adj. having a spiritual meaning that is difficult to see or understand

adorable - adj. very appealing; very lovable

exhibit - v. to show or reveal (something)

bounce - v. to move with a lot of energy and excitement

animated - adj. full of life and energy