Who needs Mando-Pop boybands, imperial drama actors or wealthy CCP offspring when you can bag yourself some cold hard… Olympic Gold?! Yes, China’s male Olympians are the new flavor of the season among the Middle Kingdom’s feline population. It all started when 1.93m Chinese swimming champ Ning Zetao in 2015 bounced back from his doping suspension with a vengeance and swimmingly became eyecandy gone viral. Vogue China now shares with readers their eight podium places. In that race to the top… Fannypack or eightpack?
Please note that this post is based on an article originally published in Chinese by Vogue China on August 22, 2016. English translation, interpretation and additional editing by Elsbeth van Paridon.
Rio’s male athletes were packing punches both on and off Olympic tracks, courts, diving boards und so weiter. In toto, a real-time visual feast of athletic promise, prowess and physical beauty bestowed itself upon viewers worldwide.
The physical culture of muscle-building and the human attraction-styled tendencies towards such a well-trained physique, boasts a history that takes us back to the ancient Egyptian and Greek societies. The celebration of the human body through muscular development was, as we all know, one of the Greek ideals. Should you aim to sport a six- (or eight-, whilst you’re at it) pack, be prepared to forgo your social life and enter the “300” cast regime – a matter of keeping it Greek. Now, I personally favor the tall, athletic and lean category, but that’s neither here nor there right now. Moving on!
Rio’s athletes were packing punches both on and off Olympic tracks, courts, diving boards und so weiter. A visual feast of athletic promise and physical beauty bestowed itself upon viewers worldwide; but where did they all suddenly come from? Many a Chinese participant had received an invite to the muscle-flexing party of the year this time around. Seemingly out of nowhere, the competing China gang became much-adored lookers overnight. After 10 days of athletic excitement, we took a peek at the Chinese athletes and graded them (oh my, how very degrading of us) in terms of looks, body and wardrobe – call it the ultimate triathlon, and fine, throw in a smidgen of charisma and popularity. Behold, the final eight sportsmen who pack the ultimate triathlon punch. Let the superficial smorgasbord begin and see if your flavor is on the menu. Let the Games begin, I say! (Round one, that is.)
Busting out catchphrases such as “I borrowed a little landslide power from my teammates” made Li Guangyuan a full-fledged member of China’s so-called “mud-rock flow” swimming squad.
No.8 Alex Hua Tian: No. 8 in the Individual Equestrian Eventing
This BBC (British born Chinese), with a British socialite grandmother on mummy’s side, stands at 1.90m (I only do metric; ha!) and actually graduated from Eton. Though the skilled equestrian failed to pick any medals these Games around, but a fan girl magnet he has most certainly become. With deep-set eyes and a rather aquiline side-profile (that’s the British influence for ya), Huatian is a posterboy for those strong male features. Coupled with a darker complexion, not too creamy pale as far as the eye can travel, swooning fans find him (literally) “full of sculptural beauty”! Just call him David, disciples.
No.7 Li Guangyuan: No.6 in the Men’s 200m Backstroke
Li this year made his Olympic debut in Rio de Janeirooo. Busting out catchphrases such as “I borrowed a little landslide power from my teammates” and “When you’ve killed one off, it’s just that: one down” made him a full-fledged member of China’s so-called “mud-rock flow” swimming squad. At the tender age of 19, Li still cuts a more boyish figure when standing next to his “fully-grown” male team members; a little lamb amongst wolves, some might say — others might call it fresh meat! Contrary to popular belief, then, the ever laughing and smiling when the interview light goes on Li maintains a highly low key private life. He’s not even visiting his Sina Weibo (which has been “paused” for the moment). In sum, if you want to learn anything about his activities outside the pool, you’ll presumably wind up on a wild-goose chase.
No.6 Xu Jiayu: No.2 in the Men’s 100m Backstroke
Xu and fellow swift swimmer Ning Zetao together treaded into aquatic battle in the Incheon the Asian Games and he in fact was set to take part in the 2012 London Olympics; unfortunately he was knocked out of the competition in the preliminaries. Hence, no attention for Xu. Moving on to Rio 2016, then, 20-year-old Xu has transformed from the adorable little brother into the befitting nickname the “Pacific-Broad-Shoulders”. Many now consider the man to be part of the new generation of sexy swimwear beef and attention-levels are soaring high.
Crowd favorite Ma Long jokingly refers to himself as “the slower brother of wealthy land owners”, meaning his style is far more lovable and stands in stark contrast to the bullying one of the older players.
No.5 Ma Long: Team No.1 in the Table Tennis Men’s Singles
Japanese netizens have taken to Twitter to unleash the plethora of praise onto this so-called “salty man”. This peculiar statement stems from the Japanese habit of eating noodles that do not taste like soy sauce, but rather like salt, with the former being of dense ink-like color and the latter a lighter, non-oily version. “Salty man” then also refers to those natural, non-polluted (yep, you read that one right; the polluted look is in fact a darker shade of grey), white, slim men and the “pure and innocent” (that’s Vogue China talking, not me — obviously) Ma naturally has come to fit this mold. With a calm yet crushing force on the international stage, Ma manages to make people have true faith in him. Whenever this athlete laughs, it seemingly comes with an outpour of oxygen that puts people in good spirits. One example that went viral on Sina Weibo is Ma jokingly referring to himself as “the slower brother of wealthy land owners” (“地主家的傻儿子”), meaning his style is far more lovable and stands in stark contrast to the bullying one of the older players; all in good fun. The more fans get a glimpse of this quirky edge to Ma, the more they likey.
Well then. When you’ve killed off four, you’ve got four left to go. Let’s get ready to rumble! For now… I’m still rooting for the fannypack, though. Round two.
Featured Image: Ning Zetao via NEXTSHARK.
Photos: Via Vogue China.