In the space of three days, Fu Yuanhui, 20, has become the newest social media star of the Rio Olympics with her endearing ways and goofy expressions.
On Wednesday morning Brazil time (10 August), the Chinese swimmer even got five million people to tune in to a livestream chat with her via Inke, a Chinese app similar to Periscope.
True to her quirky persona, Fu looked like she had rolled straight out of bed – which she likely had - and gobbled down muffins throughout the chat. “I didn't think I'd become famous because of (my expressions)," she said, often intejecting with, "I'm so tired!"
Fu answered questions about her hobbies (reading and eating), favourite food, love life and more during the hour-long session. The livestream chat has seen nearly 11 million views so far.
Many fans who tuned in sent Fu virtual presents through in-app purchases. In response, she pleaded, "I really don’t need these gifts! Please buy snacks for yourselves.”
Fu has clearly been focused on her own competition – she did not know that the diving pool had turned green, and reacted with surprise.
Fu first came to prominence on 7 August during a television interview with Chinese state media, after the women’s 100m backstroke semi-final. Her ecstatic reaction came in stark contrast to the dour expressions expected of Chinese athletes who under-performed. “58.95 seconds? I thought it was 59 seconds,” she gasped, when informed of her timing. “I’m so happy!”
Two days later, after the final of the same event, Fu was interviewed again, and was initially downbeat as she thought that she had missed out on a medal. But her face lit up with shock and elation when told that she had won a joint bronze medal.
“Third? I did not know… then that’s not bad at all!” she gushed. “Even though it’s not first, I have surpassed myself… Now my legs are about to cramp,” added Fu with a grimace.
And while Fu is “very happy” to have become an Olympic medalist, perhaps the toll of constant training and competing has taken its toll. "I really want to go home and have a good sleep. I don't even know when I can go home,” she lamented.