American swimmers owned the Rio Olympics, led by the end-of-career brilliance of Michael Phelps and the precocious dominance of young Katie Ledecky, but neither of them have proven to be the kind of engaging on-camera personalities that make their fame resonate in the four-year gaps between Olympic games (though Ledecky has tons of time to improve that). Though the American success has come at the expense of Chinese ambition in Rio, they have a star in Fu Yuanhui who definitely wins the gold medal for entertaining and empowering post-race interviews.
The backstroke specialist was part of the Chinese 4×100 medley relay that finished fourth, and above is her post-race interview, where she took responsibility for feeling weak and sick because her period hit her the day before. It’s amazing that it’s so rare to hear female athletes speak so frankly about something that happens to all of them once a month, affecting them to varying degrees, but female biology is still to some degree a taboo subject, especially in any media field dominated by men.
According to the Guardian, Fu’s honesty was inspiring to many on Twitter in China, which is in general a more repressed society in terms of gender expression. If you want to truly fall in love with her, however, check out Fu’s post-race interview after tying for bronze in the individual 100m backstroke:
When told she was only a thousandth of a second behind the silver medalist, she responded by saying, “Then I blame it on my arms being too short.” Classic.