Fu Yuanhui became one of our Olympic sheroes last month when, after representing China in the Women’s Swimming 4 x 100m relay, she told an interviewer:

“I don’t think I performed very well today. I feel I let my teammates down.”

They came fourth. In the WORLD. She then explained:

“It’s because my period came yesterday, so I felt particularly tired – but this isn’t an excuse, I still didn’t swim well enough.”

Mike drop.

Fu’s candour was particularly brave, because while periods can still be a bit of taboo here in the UK, in China, they’re reeeally reeeally taboo. As in, prime-time commercials for sanitary products have been banned in China because they’re considered “vulgar” and “disgusting”.

The vast majority of women in China also still use pads, partly because of the persisting belief that women who use tampons are no longer virgins (we promise this isn’t true). Sex education in China is scarce and unregulated, which can lead to misunderstandings about the female reproductive system, a high rate of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, as well as many women avoiding tampons because they’re not sure how to insert them properly.

It’s estimated that tampons make up a minuscule 0.03% of the sanitary market, and while Chinese manufacturers produced 85 billion sanitary pads last year, not a single one of them made tampons.

Of course, pad popularity itself isn’t a bad thing; pads are comfy and easy to use and are excellent for mopping up your spilled Frappuccino – but they don’t work for every single situation. Such as, to pluck a random example out of the air, swimming.

Which we imagine would be kinda annoying if you’re an Olympic swimmer. Yeah.

Fu’s statement is so important in a worldwide context because it made people everywhere (yours truly included) pause and say: “oh yeahhhh, I never thought of athletes having periods!”

After all, we’re used to thinking of these people as super humans whose bodies can do things that ours couldn’t even begin to fathom – so it’s easy to assume the rules of nature that apply to us shouldn’t apply to them. But of course, as Fu reminded us, they do.

And just as significantly, a Chinese Olympian speaking openly about her period might finally spark a conversation within China about female reproduction, and trigger some really positive change for girls and women in the country.

All that, and an Olympic medal.

Fu, you’re our shero.

Image: Getty

The Olympics has left a five-ringed void in everyone’s hearts and TV schedules. There are no more medal tallies to discuss or heptathlons to obsess over. No more gymnastic routines to attempt to copy in our bedrooms. No more humble speeches to weep at or national anthems to sing. Or at least, not until the Paralympics start next month and all the cheering begins again.

But hey, we have the legacy! And while we will probably never again see Usain Bolt or Jess Ennis-Hill compete for Olympic gold again, there are some new Olympians that wormed their way into our hearts in Rio. Presenting: our Olympic Sheroes.

Britain's Amy Tinkler celebrates after the women's floor event final of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 16, 2016. / AFP / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

 Amy Tinkler

Amy is the ultimate overachiever. As well as being team GB’s youngest athlete (she’s 16), taking her GCSEs and spending 30 hours a week training, she went ahead and brought home a bronze medal in gymnastics for her floor routine #likeaboss. Now, she’s back from the Olympics and waiting to hear how she did in her exams. Amy, as far as we’re concerned, you’ve scored straight A*s.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Abbey D'Agostino of the United States (R) hugs Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand after the Women's 5000m Round 1 - Heat 2 on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin

She didn’t take home a gold. Or a silver. Or a bronze. But she most definitely takes home the Miss Congeniality award. Halfway through the 5,000 metres, Abbey clipped fellow runner Nikki Hamblin and both girls tripped and fell. Abbey quickly recovered, and jumped back up, but instead of running off to try and make up for those lost few seconds, she noticed Nikki was lying on the floor in the fetal position, crying. Nikki remembers feeling a hand on her shoulder, helping her up and Abbey’s voice in her ear: “Get up. We have to finish this.”

And so, despite their injuries, they did. *Sob*

Fu
Image: Getty

Fu Yuanhui

If you can watch this video of Fu and not want to hug her senseless, we can only assume you’re playing Pokemon Go at the same time and not giving it your full attention.

In addition to being adorable and winning the bronze medal for the 100m backstroke final, Fu also got real about her uterus. After competing in the final of the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay, in which her team came fourth, she sat down and clutched her tummy. When a reported came over to ask her about the race, Fu responded, “I feel I didn’t swim well today. I let my teammates down. Because my period came yesterday, I’m feeling a bit weak, but this is not an excuse.” Round of applause for Fu for letting the world know that even kickass sportswomen have to deal with periods too.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Gold medalist Laura Trott of Great Britain celebrates during the medal ceremony after the women's Omnium Points race on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Velodrome on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

Laura Trott

Laura Trott is the most successful female British athlete in history. In history. Can you imagine? She has won seven World Championships. Ten European Championships. Two Commonwealth Games titles. She is un-freaking-defeated in the Olympics. As a side note, she’s engaged to fellow Olympian Jason Kenny. The pair took home five gold medals between them, meaning if their home in Cheshire was a country, it would have finished 19th on the table – above Canada and New Zealand. Couple goals: redefined.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17: Simone Biles of the United States performs on the beam during the Gymnastics Rio Gala on Day 12 of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

Simone Biles

You know it, we know it, the whole internet knows it – Simone Biles is bae.

But while she might look like the most together teenager in the world, her life wasn’t always paved with gold medals. When Simone was three, her mother became unable to care for her and her three other siblings. Simone went to live with the grandparents on the other side of the country, who formally adopted her and her younger sister a few years later. She has won five medals in Rio, four of which were gold, and they’ll look damned good hanging next to the 14 World Championship medals she already has.

To think, some people collect Beanie Babies.

(Right now, there is no one else in the world that can perform this manoeuvre. They call it The Biles, obvs.)

Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds