Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Swimmer Mack Horton's social media accounts flooded by angry Chinese fans

Swimmer Mack Horton's social media accounts flooded by angry Chinese fans

Australian comes under fire after comments about ‘drug cheat’ Sun Yang
  • Chinese says he is ‘no friend’ of Horton’s as acrimony continues
Aug 9 2016
Australian gold medal-winning swimmer Mack Horton has come under sustained fire on social media after his gold medal-winning performance on day one of the Rio Olympics, following comments he made about his rival, Sun Yang.
The Chinese swimming team has also reportedly demanded Horton makes an apology after he pointedly criticised the defending gold medallist, saying he had no “time or respect for drug cheats” earlier in the week – a reference to the Chinese swimmer’s three-month ban in 2014 after testing positive for trimetazidine.
Sun said the medication had been prescribed for heart palpitations and that he did not know it had been placed on the banned list. Horton again called Sun a “drug cheat” in the post-race press conference following the Australian’s gold medal win in the 400m freestyle final, despite the fact that Sun was sitting next to him.
Horton had been accused of snubbing Sun’s attempt to shake hands in the pool after his victory. The Australian did shake hands with his opponent on the podium after the pair had received their medals.
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 Australia’s Mack Horton shakes hands with Sun Yang of China on the medal podium. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images
The aftermath of the race continued ongoing tension after Sun had reportedly splashed Horton in the face during a training session at the Olympic aquatic centre earlier in the week. Asked about the bad blood between the two following the heats on Saturday, Horton said, “I don’t know if it’s a rivalry between me and him, just a rivalry between me and athletes who have tested positive.”
Footage of Sun bursting into tears while attempting to give an interview after losing the 400m race went viral on social media with the hashtag # 孙杨不哭 # (“Sun Yang Don’t Cry”). Horton’s presences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been flooded with comments from Sun’s fans, demanding he apologise.
Horton appeared to have turned off the ability to post to his Instagram account overnight (Monday morning, Australian time).
Screenshots show that Horton’s Wikipedia page was momentarily edited to claim his win as a “heroic feat that significantly advanced Australian ‘fair’”.
“His remarks of Sun is widely believed to be a part of his cultural heritage in that he was practically nursed race prejudice at his mother’s breasts [sic],” the page read before it was re-edited.
Sun reportedly told Chinese media that every Olympic athlete deserved respect. “That is just the gimmick of the Aussie swimmer,” he said. “Every athlete in the Olympic Games is supposed to be respected.”
Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted swim team manager Xu Qi as saying: “We have been noticing what has been said in the past two days by Horton, who launched a malicious personal attack [on Chinese swimmers].
“We think his inappropriate words greatly hurt the feelings between Chinese and Australian swimmers. It is proof of a lack of good manners and upbringing. We strongly demand an apology from this swimmer.”
When pressed about his relationship with Horton by Channel Seven, he said he was “no friend” of the Australian. “1500m, I’m the king,” he added, looking ahead to the defence of his title defence in that event on day eight in Rio.
Swimming Australia chief executive Mark Anderson told Fairfax Media Horton had the body’s full support. “We do support our athletes and trust them that when they say things, they say them with respect and openness and transparency. Mack made that statement and we absolutely back it.
“We’re not focusing on that as a topic but clearly it is something that meant a lot to Mack. He came out, made a strong statement and we support that.”
Anderson said there was strong anticipation for the 1500m race at the end of the week while the Australian Olympic Committee said in a statement that Horton was “entitled to express a point of view”.