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Adorable Japanese athlete Ai Fukuhara consoled by Chinese after losing battle

THE hearts of Chinese netizens ache for Japanese table tennis Olympian Ai Fukuhara when she was defeated 0-4 by the defending champion Li Xiaoxia.

"Don't cry, Ai Chan" has been trending on China's micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo since she wept after being defeated easily on the fifth day of the Rio Olympics.

The 28-year-old athlete, whose Weibo account has amassed over 1.1 million followers, has been closely watched by Chinese for most of her lifetime.

Fukuhara began training at the age of three. Coached by a Chinese mentor, and speaking fluent Chinese with a northeastern accent, she has a deep-rooted connection with China.

Her cute voice and lovely face have also won over Chinese netizens.

The Chinese have watched her play against adults when she was just a head taller than the table. The Chinese watched her cry while going through tough trainings, when she was offered to take a rest but only to be turned down by her. The Chinese watched her as she featured in a TV program, in which she was beaten by an adult and almost burst into tears. The fact that she is more prone to crying when she gets upset has earned her a nickname “Cry Baby Ai Chan.”

"I really wanted to show you a medal, which I know you want me to win. I will cheer up and bring out my best at the team race," Fukuhara wrote in her Weibo post Thursday.

Her Weibo has been flooded with messages of support since then.

"You already did a great job. We stand behind you," said one post.

"You are such an adorable darling. Let me give you a hug," said another. Besides, humorous Chinese have joked online that Fukuhara had been beaten by a long line of Chinese champions, including Zhang Yining, one of the world’s greatest table tennis player nicknamed the “Big Devils” by Chinese, and Zhang’s successor Li.


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