Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui hoped she’d wow the world with her backstroke. Instead she is breaking the Chinese internet with her hilarious post-swim interviews.
“Whoooaah! I was so fast!,” explained Fu after she clocked 58.95 seconds, coming in third in the women’s 100m backstroke semifinal on Monday. “I didn’t hold back…I used all of my mystic energy!”
That clip quickly went viral in China and beyond. Her legions of fans have since been creating emojis, videos and cartoons in her likeness. Her followers on Weibo, China’s main social media platform, have climbed from about 550,000 before the Olympics started to nearly 4 million as of Wednesday.
“I have completely fallen in love with you,” said one commenter on Weibo.
“Everyone will love her after seeing the interview,” said another.
China’s netizens were up in arms earlier in the week when Australia’s Mack Horton labelled Chinese swimmer Sun Yang a “drug cheat.”
Fu Yuanhui’s antics have quickly eclipsed that controversy in the Sino cyberspace.
Chinese actor Jia Nailiang has produced an imitation of Fu that has gone viral, the site Shanghaiist has aggregated many of her emojis.
Fu ended up becoming the first Chinese Olympian to earn a medal in the backstroke, winning a bronze medal on Tuesday.
After the race, she seemed anything but disappointed.
“What?!” asked the 20-year-old Fu. “I came in third? I didn’t know!”
Fu’s swimming career has had its ups and downs. She finished 8th in the 100m backstroke at the London Olympics in 2012. But this year, she won the 50m backstroke at the world swimming championships in Russia.
Fu had a ready explanation about why she couldn’t top third place on Tuesday. Her arms, she said, were “too short.”
This article was written by Stuart Leavenworth in Beijing, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 10th August 2016 02.47 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010