‘I’m an athlete, not an internet celebrity,’ says Chinese Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui

Fu Yuanhui, who shot to fame after her candid post-race interviews at the Rio Olympics, speaks at a diving demonstration in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park swimming pool

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 August, 2016, 1:47pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 August, 2016, 3:57pm

China Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui revealed a slight disenchantment with her newly found fame on Sunday morning, after her adorable personality gained her enormous admiration in Hong Kong.

“My profession is athlete, not an Internet celebrity or an ‘expression package’,” Fu said during a diving demonstration by Chinese medallists at the Victoria Park swimming pool.

“I hope I can achieve more professionally, and then, and then I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say.”

The bronze medallist’s candid style has gained her a huge fanbase both on the mainland and in Hong Kong, and the interview she gave when she told media that she had used up all her “mystical power” after finishing her 100m backstroke race at the Olympics quickly went viral online.

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Although Fu and her fellow swimmer, gold medallist Sun Yang, did not take part during the two-hour diving demonstration that started at 9.30am, the excited audience at the pool welcomed the duo with the loudest cheers whenever they appeared on the big screens at the venue.

Fu and Sun were briefly interviewed by Hong Kong athletes during a break in the demonstration. Sun said he not only aimed at competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but also wanted to go further. He said he saw American swimming legend Michael Phelps, who holds a record of 23 Olympic gold medals, as his goal.

Most of the swimming pool’s 2,500 seats were filled during the demonstration, with Wu Minxia, Shi Tingmao, Chen Ruolin, Liu Huixia and Ren Qian from the women’s diving team, as well as Cao Yuan, Lin Yue and Chen Aisen from the men’s team performing for the cheering crowd.

Abby Mak Ho-yin, 15, said she bought a ticket from an online platform for HK$150, more than seven times the original price of HK$20. Mak said she did not expect the tickets to be sold out so quickly and had to resort to the Internet. It was her first time seeing an Olympic medallist demonstration and she said she did not want to miss the chance, which would come only every four years.

“Although politically we have differences from the mainland, there is no boundary in sports,” said Mak. “All athletes should be respected because they spent a lot of time and effort in their training.”