Swimmer Fu Yuanhui, sweetheart of 2016 Rio Olympic Games

CCTV News

Fu Yuanhui gif

Chinese Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui’s unassuming response to a reporter’s questions have gone viral, making her a bonafide Internet star at the Rio games.

After stepping out of the pool for the women’s 100 backstroke semifinals, Fu was told she swam 58.95 seconds, securing her spot for the finals.

The 20-year-old athlete was overwhelmed with her own performance after a CCTV reporter told her she just broke her own record.

“58.95 seconds? I thought it was 59 seconds, am I that fast?! I am more than satisfied!” Fu told the reporter with mouth agape and eyes wide open.

“I’ve exhausted the force (我已经用了洪荒之力了!),” the swimmer quipped using a new Internet term, which expresses gargantuan efforts some put into completing a task.

The outspoken swimmer also gave an unexpected answer when asked whether she has further expectations for the finals.

“No, no, I’m quite satisfied,” she asserted.

As she was leaving the venue, Fu again screamed in sheer excitement.

The following day, after completing the finals, Fu had no idea until her interview was nearly over that she had won the bronze medal with 58.76 seconds.

She started to say “even though I didn’t win the medal…” before the CCTV Reporter interrupted her to say that she actually won bronze.

“Huh?” She replied in shock. “What? Third?”

After pausing for a millisecond, she replied: “Well then I think that’s not bad at all!”

Internet users across the world and particularly in her home country talked about that moment, sharing videos and gifs of her interviews and antics at the Olympics. Her followers on Weibo grew from 100,000 to more than 5 million in less than 4 days.

On Wednesday, She gave a livestream chat with 10 million users on Yingke.

Her candidness and authenticity has garnered praise, particularly since so many Olympic athletes are so serious.

“I hope we can have more interesting and optimistic players, the happiest thing is enjoying the game!” said a user on China’s Weibo who goes by the name @zhuzhuzhuzhurou.

“The girl is the “mudslide” (泥石流) submerging the swimming world,” @woshilaizixingxingdei said, compared to the other popular swimmers like Ning Zetao who has been given the name of “clean stream”(清流)metraphor to suggest she has totally different adorable style.

At the age of 16, Fu advanced to the championship final of the 2012 London Games, and went on to finish 8th overall.

In the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Russia, Fu brought home gold in the 50-meter backstroke, and swam the backstroke leadoff leg for the 4×100m medley relay team that also won gold.

Team China celebrates its gold medal during the podium ceremony for the women's 4x100m medley relay swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan on August 9, 2015. Shi Jinglin, Lu Ying, Fu YuanHui and Shen Duo competed in the event. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV, via VCG

Team China celebrates its gold medal during the podium ceremony for the women’s 4x100m medley relay swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan on August 9, 2015. Shi Jinglin, Lu Ying, Fu YuanHui and Shen Duo competed in the event. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV, via VCG

Chinese social media users have created a cartoon and emoji animation version of her:

Credit: VCG

Credit: VCG

Credit: VCG

Credit: VCG

Credit: VCG

Credit: VCG

Credit: VCG

Credit: VCG

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Story by CCTV News and CCTV America. Video from Shanghai Expat and What’s on Weibo.