‘This is more important than Disneyland’: Olympic darling Fu Yuanhui charms at Hong Kong press meet

The bronze medallist swimmer and fan favourite is in town with her peers as part of a three-day visit by China’s national squad

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 August, 2016, 7:38pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 August, 2016, 8:19pm

Despite not being as decorated as her peers in the delegation of Chinese athletes visiting the city, China’s latest Olympic darling Fu Yuanhui has stammered her way into the hearts of fans by declaring her mission in Hong Kong as being more important than going to Disneyland.

The 100 metres backstroke bronze medallist was seated in the last three rows of the 64-strong group of sports stars and coaches, during a press meet at the InterContinental Grand Stanford hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui on Saturday.

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But Fu, who is in Hong Kong for a three-day trip with her fellow teammates, ended up taking the most number of questions among all the athletes.

The 20-year-old, who is visiting Hong Kong for the first time, said: “This has always been on my mind, perhaps because I am silly – [I think Hong Kong] has all the delicious food and fun stuff.”

When asked about Hong Kong Disneyland, a destination which is apparently on her bucket list of places to visit, Fu said: “Since we are here as a delegation, we have more important, more ... how do I say it? Bigger goals, that is.

“We hope to come to Hong Kong to interact with the people here, so I shouldn’t just think about having fun.”

Her candid and goofy response drew peals of laughter from all in the room.

We hope to come to Hong Kong to interact with the people here, so I shouldn’t just think about having fun
Fu Yuanhui

Then in her trademark animated tone, the swimmer concluded: “I guess I will come again by myself next time to have fun.”

She added that she had always wanted to visit Hong Kong, but never had the time due to her busy training schedule.

Gamely addressing the sensitive issue of political and social tensions between Hong Kong and the mainland, Fu said: “[Hong Kong and China] are bonded by flesh and blood, and there is no reason to divide between them. Thank you everyone.”

Fu shot to fame earlier this month at the Olympics when she told a mainland TV reporter how she had used up all her “mystical power” after finishing her 100 metres backstroke race. She was also unaware that she had bagged the bronze, and had to be informed by the reporter.

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The engaging interview went viral online, making her an internet sensation.

Fu is one of the three athletes among the delegation that did not win a gold medal, but received an invitation from the Hong Kong government.

The swimmer, known for her dramatic facial expressions, dropped her jaw in bewilderment when she heard that Taekwondo gold medallist Zhao Shuai, sitting next to her, had to go through three competitions in a single day at Rio.

Thanking Hongkongers for their support, Fu said, “I never imagined that someone such as myself could be liked by so many people.”