If you develop a girl-crush on one athlete at the Olympic Games, it should be Fu Yuanhui. The Chinese swimmer became an internet sensation after visibly showing how utterly pumped she is to be at the Games (just check out these memes). Now, Fu is earning even more props after revealing that she didn’t think she swam her best in the 4 x 100 relay because she has her period.
Here’s what went down: During an interview, Fu was crouched down behind her teammates, clutching her stomach. When the reporter asked if she was OK, she had this to say, per the BBC: “I didn't swim well enough this time. It's because my period came yesterday, so I felt particularly tired—but this isn't a reason, I still didn't swim well enough."
People on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging service, immediately started wondering if Fu would “turn the pool red.” Why? Tampon use just isn’t a big thing in China. According to a market survey by Cotton Inc., only two percent of Chinese women use tampons.
But Fu got a ton of applause from people everywhere for being so open and honest about her period—a topic that’s been largely taboo for female athletes:
Very few women actually open up about competing on their periods, but clearly it happens.
Last year, drummer Kiran Gandhi got a lot of attention for free bleeding during the London marathon. British tennis player Heather Watson also said last year that she thinks she lost in the first round of the Australian Open because she had her period. “I think it's just one of these things that I have, girl things,” she told the BBC, after suffering from dizziness, nausea, and low energy levels that were so intense, she had to call a doctor to the court.
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Fellow British tennis player Tara Moore also said it’s a shame that women’s periods are taboo. “Women's monthly issues seem to be one of those subjects that gets swept under the carpet and is a big secret. I think women do suffer in silence,” she told the BBC, noting that she’s played in six major tournaments while on her period.
The fact that Fu got so much attention for her (awesome) comments shows just how far we have to go when it comes to female athletes discussing their periods. But, the more it happens, the less taboo it will be. You keep doing you, Fu.