Enchanté

Medalist in the 100m backstroke, Fu Yuanhui (China) Kylie Masse (CAN), gold medalist Katinka Hosszú (Hungary) and (USA) Kathleen Baker.

You win a gold medal at the Olympics, you feel joy. You stand at the podium with any medal around your neck, there is joy. For many athletes, finishing their event brings joy. They are achieving long-standing goals. They are competing on an elite stage.

There is the inevitable local news coverage after an event. Athletes–especially athletes from big national news markets–are regularly prepped with words of wisdom and platitudes. To say the right things, thank the right people, to be poised and humble, and to certainly hold your hand in the correct position when your country’s national anthem rings out.

The strongest expressions of joy you see is a fist pump or an air box. You see beaming ear to ear grins. You see teammates gripping each other in bear hugs. You see overwhelming tears of gratitude, relief and, perhaps, joy. Once you saw someone take off her jersey and fall to her knees. That was an unusual, unscripted and primal display of joy. It was the exception that proved the rule. Pump, grin, hug or cry. Those are the acceptable norms.

And then you see the pure and unabashed joy of Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui. She is most definitely having a good time. It’s as if she was never given the advice to “act like you’ve been there before.” She’s not acting, she is being.

She was blatantly amazed and pleased by her bronze medal swim. She learned of her time from the interviewer and brought her hand to her wide with surprise mouth. She as much as said, “I swam that fast?!”

She hops up and down like a kid on Christmas morning, all the time. It’s like she’s acting out. Acting out her very huge feelings of glee and the soaring of her heart. At least for this Olympics, she’s not willing to tamp down any of her feelings of wonder and delight.

I could watch her most natural joie de vivre during every Olympic break. She loves being there, and she loves sharing that in the most obvious ways. You don’t need to interpret her. Why hold back, she asks us all? Don’t act like you’ve been there, act like you’ll never be back.

Damn, I love this woman.

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