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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor