Swimmer Stephanie Au Hoi-shun (歐鎧淳) became a hot topic in the media even before she hit the pool at the aquatics stadium in the 2016 Olympics.
The 24-year-old, who is participating in her third Olympic games, made heads turn as she led Team Hong Kong at the opening ceremony Friday evening at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Dressed in the team uniform — white jacket and black skirt and pairing it with high-heeled shoes — Au looked stunning, drawing a lot of attention on social media and enquiries from the foreign press.
Many awestruck people in the stadium as well as millions of television viewers from around the world wondered: “Who is that pretty lady?”
It was clear that Au had totally eclipsed the other women flag-bearers at the event — of teams such as Austria, Italy, Denmark and Taiwan (which competes as “Chinese Taipei” in the Olympics).
Many people took to twitter to praise the young and beautiful Hong Kong athlete, with some labeling her as the most beautiful flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.
Hong Kong and mainland China media also couldn’t contain their excitement. A mainland media outlet went as far as to say that Au’s beauty was up “against the heaven” (顏值逆天).
Watching the live broadcast from Rio Saturday morning Hong Kong time, we saw Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong visibly excited and cheering for the Hong Kong team.
As for me, let me confess that when I was watching the live telecast I couldn’t believe that the flag-bearer was an athlete, as she looked more like a TVB artiste.
Following the huge publicity that Au generated for Hong Kong, one wonders if any top government official will now have the gall to say that the sports sector cannot create economic value to the city.
While it remains to be seen how Au will perform at Rio, it is clear that she has already emerged a winner in the eyes of many people.
Described by some as the “Oriental Venus”, Au is the holder of Hong Kong national long course records in the 200 m, 400 m, 800 m and 1500 m freestyle as well as 4×100 m medley relay.
Although it may be almost impossible for Hong Kong swimmers to make it to the finals in Rio events, I’m sure many Hong Kong people will stay up to watch the games.
A Sacred Heart Cannosian student, Au graduated from the University of California (Berkeley) in 2014 with a degree in environmental economics. She represented her college in the NCAA national competition and won the top place during her school year.
Apart from her swimming feats, Au has been able to spare some time for ad campaigns. She was recently seen endorsing a skincare brand.
After the opening ceremony at Rio, the champion Hong Kong swimmer told reporters that she was very excited about her third Olympics.
As she carried the flag for the team, it is fair to say that her sports career is now more complete.
Hong Kong’s mermaid will make her Rio Olympics debut on the morning of August 13. We’ll all be watching with bated breath as she competes in the women’s 4×100 meter medley relay.
Thank you Stephanie for bringing us a delightful summer!
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