Olympic swimmer praised for her candor

2016-08-18 05:38:09 GMT2016-08-18 13:38:09(Beijing Time) Agencies

ALREADY adored for her winsome facial expressions and unbridled enthusiasm, Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui has won fresh praise online for speaking frankly about having her period while competing in Rio de Janeiro.

Long a taboo subject for female athletes, the 20-year-old - whose goofy, charming poolside antics have turned her into a viral sensation - offered a very frank explanation for why she looked tired at the end of the 4x100-meter medley relay, in which the Chinese team placed fourth.

“I didn’t swim well. I’m not worthy of my teammates,” she told a Chinese television presenter, who then asked whether a stomach ache had affected her performance.

“It’s because I got my period yesterday,” Fu said.

Her simple, honest explanation immediately went viral, sparking an avalanche of support for the bronze medalist on Chinese social media.

“When I have my period, I sometimes can’t even walk right or breathe,” said one supporter on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.

“And you managed to swim, bravo!”

Another fan wrote: “Did I hear right - she really talked about her period?

“This girl has the courage to talk about anything.”

Others were less sympathetic to Fu, who first endeared herself to millions with her unabashedly enthusiastic response to swimming a personal best and winning a bronze medal for the 100m backstroke.

“The state spends a lot of money on her - and she’s talking about her period?” wrote one critic.

“Good joke, but why do you have to play the idiot in front of the whole world?”

Another Weibo user was more supportive: “Your mothers, aunts, grandmothers all had periods - it’s natural to talk about this in 2016.”

Fu has become the biggest Chinese star of Rio, with her over-the-top facial expressions inspiring emoticons and going viral online.

She now has more than 6 million people following her Weibo account and she has been praised by Chinese media for defying the robotic athlete stereotype.

As she arrived at Beijing airport on Tuesday, she was greeted by crowds of fans clamoring for a selfie with her.

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