26 October 2016
Fu Yuanhui poses for some pictures during a trip to Shanghai Disneyland over the weekend. Photos: Weibo
Fu Yuanhui poses for some pictures during a trip to Shanghai Disneyland over the weekend. Photos: Weibo

Disney cashes in on China’s Olympic sweetheart

Disney seems to be first off the mark when it comes to cashing in on China’s new Olympic stars.

And the theme park operator also appears to have hit the bull’s eye in terms of picking the right target among the various medal winners.

Well, who else can be a better fit for Disney’s family-friendly audiences than Fu Yuanhui, the adorable 20-year-old who won a bronze in the 100m backstroke! 

Moving fast, the US entertainment giant arranged a trip for Fu to Shanghai Disneyland on Sunday, reaping tons of positive publicity in mainland media.

The American firm is also likely to get the newly-minted celebrity to visit its Hong Kong theme park soon, setting the stage for a potential formal endorsement deal. 

Visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland may get to see Fu, who has been dubbed “Turkey Girl”, in less than a week’s time as the athlete will be part of a Chinese medal-winning delegation to the city. 

The young woman, who has become an internet sensation following the Olympics, will surely be an absolute hit in Hong Kong.   

People can’t seem to get enough of Fu after the Chinese swimmer captured millions of hearts with her cute remarks and over-the-top facial expressions in front of TV cameras in Rio.

On Aug. 8, after participating in the final of the 100m backstroke, Fu began delivering a so-called defeat speech, unaware that she had finished third and won a bronze medal.

It was only when a reporter informed her of the actual result that the Chinese woman jumped up in unbounded joy. 

Asked why she was not able to figure out the result immediately, Fu admitted that she was blurry-eyed soon after the race. 

“My vision became blurry after I got out of the water. I am shortsighted and couldn’t read the results clearly from the big screen,” Fu told Sing Tao Daily in an interview in Hangzhou over the weekend.

“I only saw a red flag being placed on the fourth, so I thought I couldn’t even make it to the top three,” she said, according to a transcript carried in The Standard newspaper, a sister publication of Sing Tao.

Earlier, after making it through the semifinal in Rio, Fu said she used all her “mystical powers” to overcome the strong competition.

On being informed that she clocked 58.95 seconds in her race, Fu exclaimed: “Wow! Am I so fast? I am very pleased.”

Her comments, which were accompanied by exaggerated facial expressions, prompted observers to exclaim that Fu was a true original.

Video clips of her post-event interviews have gone viral, helping Fu garner a huge following on social media.

Fu now has about 6.8 million followers on Weibo, with most of the additions coming this month.

The young sweetheart, meanwhile, revealed to the media that she does not have a boyfriend, sending a call out to bachelors across the country.

After Fu returned to China from Rio last Tuesday, she was invited by Shanghai Disneyland for a tour of the theme park.

“I had to go around in a wheelchair because my leg was a little injured,” Fu told Sing Tao. “The park had more than 40 security guards surrounding me, making me feel embarrassed.”

Her appearance came just in time for Shanghai Disneyland, which had been in the news recently for the wrong reasons, mainly the “uncivilized” behavior of some mainland tourists.

Following her trip to the facility, Fu made some comments that are bound to please Disney.

“I watched Lion King when I was a kid and loved the movie, literally watching it once a day. This is because I always thought of myself as a lion, and my dream was to one day have ferocious teeth like a lion,” she wrote in a Weibo post.

“Like Simba, I will face many obstacles and hardships in life, but I will also meet friends and mentors. Ultimately, I will become the King in my country.”

Fu will be visiting Hong Kong this weekend, joining a group of Chinese Olympic gold medal winners for three-day demonstration events in the city. 

Hong Kong officials are said to have specifically asked that Fu be included in the delegation, which was originally meant only for gold medal winners.

The exception made for Fu shows just how popular the “Turkey Girl” has become even in Hong Kong. 

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EJ Insight writer

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