A successful ‘Waterloo’: Chinese gymnast Lu Yufei demonstrates Olympic spirit in failure
Published: Jul 28, 2021 06:13 PM
Chinese gymnast Lu Yufei Photo: VCG

Chinese gymnast Lu Yufei Photo: VCG

"Can I flip again?" were the first words out of 21-year-old Chinese gymnast Lu Yufei after she fell down in the middle of her uneven bars repertoire during the women's artistic gymnastics team final at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Tuesday. 

Hitting the ground upside-down was almost a definite reality check for Lu as this major mistake pretty much dashes her Olympic medal hopes. It also put an abrupt halt to the whole team's momentum toward the category's top laurels, leaving them at 7th place; the worst performance since the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. 

"That's the moment I felt, well that's it. I experienced a complex feeling of astonishment and numbing disappointment when witnessing her drop… I don't blame her at all, I just thought, 'No, we were so good at this,'" Ai, a gymnastics fan in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Probably no one knew how she would react until Lu calmly stood up, tightened her hair a bit, glanced at the coaching assistant nearby and asked "can I flip again?" 

Her reaction quickly became a trending topic on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, earning more than 100 million views. Many netizens expressed concern that the athlete may have been hurt in the painful-looking fall and also expressed their admiration for her resilience, steadiness and concentration for getting up after having experienced such knock down. 

"I was slightly horrified by her quick adjustment. It looked like she didn't even need a second to pull herself out from the sudden situation. There were millions of eyes on this game worldwide, [but to Lu] there were only her and the bars… that's the true qualities of an athlete," Wang Mianping, a 46-year-old running coach, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Other netizens noted that they were able to see the true Olympics spirit in Lu's failure, emphasizing that winning a medal does not paint a whole picture of the beauty of sports or the success of an athlete. 

"I'm feeling Team China is even more prominent due to her loss, because we have such talented and veteran-like young athletes like Lu who are mature enough to know 'sports' are about seeking breakthroughs and being 'better' rather than earning honors," Li, a sports fan, told the Global Times. 

"That's an athlete's instinct - to keep calm and carry on," one netizen posted on Sina Weibo. 

Although she wasn't able to continue her routine, Lu did carry on with the competition, scoring a 13.166 during the floor exercise competition.