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Every elite swimmer has their own approach to competition. Michael Phelps, for example, grimaces and gets tortured with suction cups. That’s his choice, but it sure seems a lot less fun than what Fu Yuanhui of China’s women’s team is doing.
Fu, 20, finished third in the 100-meter backstroke semifinals on Monday, putting in a time that managed to surprise even herself. Her adorable post-race interview is going viral in China, and is starting to blow up in the U.S. via a translation on imgur.
“58.95?! I thought it was 59 seconds! I’m that fast? I’m so happy!” she said, with her eyes wide and her mouth open in shock. She could barely believe what she was hearing.
When asked what she expected from the final, she gave a huge grin and said: “Nothing! I’m already satisfied.”
In China, Fu is the breakout star of the Olympics so far. She’s even become her own meme of sorts. In the same interview, she said something that imgurer donoteventhinkaboutbeingaphd translated as “I have assumed my final form.”
Holy shit. And competing translations in the comments made Fu sound just as badass, if not more:
“She said she used the force present on a primitive earth surface, e.g., like the destructive force of plate tectonics,” one commenter wrote.
” ‘我已经用了洪荒之力’ actually translates to “I’ve already used my core power (energy within our core, what keep us alive, the spirit energy),” another argued.
“A more decent translation of ‘final form’ should be ‘prehistorical power,’ according her saying that in Chinese ‘洪荒之力,'” wrote a third.
Any one of them would be perfect.
“LOL. As a chinese, I’m so glad to see you like our hero XD,” added another commenter, attesting to Fu’s sudden superstar status.
Despite her lack of expectations, Fu swam even faster in the final. She ended up tying for bronze with a time of 58.76, a mere hundredth of a second off of silver.
There are a lot of reasons not to like the Olympics, but none of that is Fu Yuanhui’s fault, and it’s hard not to get caught up in her irrepressible joy.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.