Winter Olympics 2014: British skater Elise Christie falls victim to 'cyber sledging'
Twitter threats for 23-year-old speed skater after crash
The British skater Elise Christie has become the latest athlete to fall victim to cyber bullying. The 23-year-old received threatening messages via Twitter after causing a crash during a short-track speed-skating race in the Winter Olympics.
Christie, inset, one of Team GB's main medal hopes in Sochi, was disqualified from Thursday's 500m final after being held responsible for tripping up two rivals, the Italian Arianna Fontana, and Park Seung-hi from South Korea.
Her tumble did not cost the Koreans a medal, but it did deny Park any chance of the gold. There were only four racers in the final; with Christie's disqualification for instigating the crash the remaining three finalists were all guaranteed a medal. Park took bronze.
The subsequent messages, described as "pretty unpleasant" and "unsavoury" by British officials, were deleted, but are believed to have originated from Korea, where the sport of short-track speed skating is a national obsession.
Christie raced again in the 1,500m and her nightmare of a Games continued as she was penalised for an infringement and relegated to last place.
Afterwards she admitted the abuse had hurt her. It is understood to have impacted on her performance, and her training, since the messages were posted following her race on Thursday. The messages and her account were deleted on Friday after consultation with her coaches.
She was close to tears as she spoke after her race. "I have had a few people threatening me," she said. "It's been a tough few days."
Christie has her strongest event to come this week, the 1,000m, in which she had high hopes of winning a rare British medal. To add to her miserable experience in Sochi, her boyfriend, Jack Whelbourne, injured his ankle in a crash of his own during the men's 1,500m final last week.
Christie's abuse follows anonymous online attacks on Olympic gymnast and Dancing on Ice star Beth Tweddle, who said internet trolls made cruel jibes about her looks. She deactivated her Twitter account last month. Gold medal swimmer Rebecca Adlington and diver Tom Daley also reported sustained abuse during the 2012 Olympics.
A spokeswoman for the British Olympic Association said: "Like a lot of young people, [Elise] is very active on social media. I've not spoken to her directly but I know after her race, she was very upset about what happened on the track. I think the Twitter stuff has rolled into that.
"So a decision was taken, with Elise’s consent, to take her Twitter site down so she can better focus on the competition. We didn't want it to become a burden or a distraction."
This is Christie's second Olympics, but at the age of 23 she is still young for the sport. The long-term aim is for her to win a medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics – in Korea.
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Ghosts of past cast a massive shadow
Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao? Ricky Hatton, Mike Tyson, Ronda Rousey, George Foreman and more make their predictions
Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao start?
Kyle Walker dog video: Tottenham defender categorically denies 'disgusting' rumours
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 The Visit: Trailer for M Night Shyamalan's latest horror film is terrifying
- 5 9/11: Iranian General accuses US of organising September 11 terror attacks
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'