Zine Review: Fu Yuanhui at the Rio 2016 Olympics

ZINES_Fu Yuanhui (CJ Blennerhassett)

Fu Yuanhui At The Rio 2016 Olympics
Comic, Stephanie Cheng, stephaniecheng.ca, $3

Cheng’s zine is a short, quippy collection of the best moments from Fu Yuanhui’s appearance at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The swimmer from Hangzhou, China won the bronze medal in the 100m backstroke. She was the first Chinese Olympian to medal in the backstroke and she captured worldwide attention with her animated reaction to her victory. Cheng’s zine represents perfectly the feeling of watching Fu Yuanhui’s viral media moments. The zine, only six pages, is all red and yellow with a screenshot-style feel to the images. Cheng’s zine takes us from Yuanhui’s surprise at her 100m backstroke medal to the loss of the 4x100m medley relay final where she told reporters that she felt weak and tired because of her period. The juxtaposition in the zine between Yuanhui’s elation at her victory and sadness at her self-described period-related loss is stark. This moment in popular culture was huge – people who have periods loved her honesty.What is so important about this zine, though, is the legitimacy with which Cheng treats Yuanhui’s personality. Lots of the media coverage painted her as a flighty, stereotypically (read: racist) wispy Chinese woman fawning and squealing. Cheng presents a picture of the same soundbites we all re-tweeted without commentary; showcasing Yuanhui as a hardworking swimmer reacting honestly to her performance – you win some you lose some.
(CJ Blennerhassett)