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Olympic Champion Quitting Twitter During the Games

Twitter is a well loved platform for athletes to engage with their supporters.  Such open dialogue does of course leave the athlete open to the negative aspects of online trolling.

For one Olympian this feedback has gone too far, causing her to boycott Twitter during the 2012 Games.  Rebecca Adlington, double gold medalist in the 2008 Beijing Games, told the Daily Telegraph that she is not going to access Twitter during the Games because of criticism on the site over her appearance.

“I used to read all the stuff about me but I’m one of those people who scroll down to the bottom and read the comments thing – I learnt very quickly not to do that,”
“Most things that I read about myself are not swimming related. They are how to do with how I look, which has nothing to do with my performance in the pool.

“I’ve never read something that has really criticised me in the pool over the past year. It’s just nasty comments about things I can’t control. I can’t help the way I look or who I am.

“People are not always going to like me but that has nothing to do with my swimming. That really gets me going.” she said. “It is dreadful and I get mad. Even if there are 10 nice comments you get one idiot. I’ve now given up. It upsets me or gets me mad."

She confirms that she will not be using Twitter during the Olympics because of the stress caused by negative messages posted to her account.

“I won’t be checking it or going on it a lot during the Games. The messages of support are incredible but you do have the chance of someone saying something that is going to be annoying. You don’t want that added stress. You don’t want to be thinking about that. I reckon I will just tweet once it is over.” she says.

Female athletes often have a like/despise relationship with the media, with an impression sadly remaining that many gain column inches as a result of their looks rather than their achievements and talent.

Research earlier this year found that young girls respect female athletes when they are pictured in their sporting guises.  When they are shot in glamorous ways but that respect turns instead to negative feelings about their own figures.

Hopefully the Games, which start in 2 months time, will provide a showcase for the athletic abilities of women from around the world, and their looks will be an irrelevance.


A writer on management issues for publications such as Professional Manager, CMI, HRM Today, Business Works and Technorati. I also cover social media for Social Media Today and Social Business News.

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