This Olympic Swimmer Used Her Period As A Teachable Moment
Female Olympians are breaking all kinds of records this year—we’ve watched Simone Manuel become the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic swimming event, Katie Ledecky leave world records in her wake and Simone Biles become the first female U.S. gymnast to win three medals in one game. Now, a swimmer from China just paved an entirely new path by opening up about menstruation.
Fu Yuanhui, whose giddy post-race interview went viral last week, mentioned in a separate interview that her period impacted her performance in the women’s 4×100-meter medley relay.
“I feel I didn’t swim well today. I let my teammates down,” Fu said, according to Quartz. “Because my period came yesterday, I’m feeling a bit weak, but this is not an excuse.”
While this simple statement seems perfectly natural—we wouldn’t think twice if an athlete blamed their loss on a bad night of sleep or an illness—it was actually very radical of Fu to say. Quartz even pointed out that British tennis player Heather Watson blamed an Australian Open loss on her period. But menstrual health in China differs greatly from the United States—a report cited by BBC says that only 2% of Chinese women use tampons.
Fu has helped to break stigmas and misinformation on how periods affect women.