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August 2, 2021

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Athletes’ personal lives are big winners with netizens

China’s Ma Long won a gold medal in the men’s singles table tennis on Friday, instantly taking him to the top of the trending topic list on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

It is a historic second Olympic gold in the men’s singles in his career.

But it’s not just his success that has gained Chinese netizens’ attention: His cute behavior like repeatedly lifting his pants also earned 170 million views and 24,000 comments on Weibo.

This fascination with the wider aspects of sporting stars is now common.

Chinese audiences now are not only concerned about how many gold medals the Chinese team has won, but also about their athletes’ behavior, emotions, personalities and accessories.

These trending topics highlight the athletes’ ordinary human side, which also allows netizens to better empathize with the hardships and joys of them standing on the Olympic stage.

There are hot topics like “Sun Yiwen, the female fencer, left the field with an injury,” “Yang Qian and Yang Haoran, who won 10m air rifle mixed team gold, made finger hearts to the cameras.”

Athletes’ necklaces, hairpins, nail polish and other accessories are also sparking intense interest — and sales.

Netizens are also trying to find the same necklace and bracelet, in the shape of two ping-pong paddles, worn by Chen Meng, who won the women’s singles table tennis gold.

There has been growing interest over the years in the hobbies and details of the day-to-day lives of athletes.

Shooter Yang said in on interview after the game that she wanted to eat braised prawns. Her mom responded happily: Come home and I will prepare enough for you!

Unsurprisingly the story became a trending topic on several platforms. It earned 220 million views on Weibo and became a top 5 topic on Douyin (TikTok). Braised prawn is a speciality of Yang’s hometown Ningbo, which struck a chord with many.


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