Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui has been a breath of fresh air this Olympics. Her delightful post-swim interview after winning bronze in the women’s 100m backstroke last week made her an internet favourite.
And now her candid nature has led to her breaking down one of the final taboos in female sport, speaking openly about being on her period while competing. After completing in the 4 x 100 metre medley relay, where China came fourth, Yuanhui admitted that she was feeling unwell because of her period.
“I feel I didn’t swim well today. I let my teammates down,” she told a reporter. “Because my period came yesterday, I’m feeling a bit weak, but this is not an excuse.”
According to reports, some Chinese viewers were posting their support for the swimmer on social media app Sina Weibo, with the hashtag #FuyuanHuiPeriod. One user, Tao, wrote, “I really admire Fu Yuanhui, for swimming while she was on her period – women can be affected during their periods, especially with period pain…she felt guilty for coming fourth, but Fu Yuanhui we’re still very proud of you.”
Yuanhui’s response is a timely reminder that a woman’s period stops for nothing, something that most elite female athletes are well aware of. In June UK sanitary brand BodyForm launched their Red.Fit Campaign, aiming to educate women about keeping fit while on their period.
The campaign showed that blood doesn’t stop women from being active, something the Olympian can attest to.