Athletes face rough Tweet-ment
OPINION: The opening week of the London Olympics has thrown up an unofficial 27th sport.
Twitter, or tweeting, has kept idle hands busy in the Olympic Village but, like any of the other sports being celebrated during the 2012 Olympiad, there have been winners and losers.
Like Swiss footballer Michel Morganella who took a cyber-swipe at the South Koreans after losing to the Asian country 2-1.
Morganella copped it from the crowd during the game after appearing to take a dive and then the abuse continued online via his Twitter account afterwards.
According to his version of events, he snapped and made some sort of ill-advised comment which was deemed threatening and racist by his football association and led to them quickly stripping him of his accreditation - which as well as meaning his Olympic Games were over also would have barred him from the best parties in London and free McDonald's in the village.
Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papahristou was thrown out of the Games after a derogatory comment about African immigrants living in Greece.
Before the Olympics had even started Australian swimmers Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk posted pictures of themselves posing with guns during their training camp in the United States. They were heavily censured.
Another Australian swimmer, Emily Seebohm, blamed social-networking sites after starting the 100m backstroke final as a favourite for the gold medal but having to settle for silver.
"I guess when you swim that fast in the heat, then people put pressure and more pressure on you, saying, ‘Oh, you're going to get the gold,' " Seebohm said.
"Maybe I just started believing that and just thought I'd already won by the time I had swum and I hadn't even swum yet.
"I don't know, I just felt like I didn't really get off [social media] and get into my own mind," she told Australian reporters.
“I have said a lot that all I need to do is focus on my own race. But when people start telling you you're going to win gold, you are going to start believing it. When they tell you a thousand times you are going to get it, somewhere in your mind you are just like, ‘I've done it'. But I hadn't and that was a big learning curve and I obviously need to sign out of Twitter and log out of Facebook a lot sooner than I did."
Has there been a Twitter winner so far during these Games?
British diver Tom Daley claimed a victory of sorts after a frank exchange on Twitter when some genius posted this comment: "You let your dad down I hope you know that". Daley's dad, who he credited with helping get to the Olympics, died from a brain tumour in May last year.
Daley fired back on Twitter and received a flood of positive feedback, highlighting the growing issue of the abuse which athletes open themselves up to by being accessible on social-networking sites.
A 17-year-old was later arrested and will face charges of malicious communication.
Sites such as Twitter enable sportspeople to be more available to their fans but they are also more available to any punk that wants to take a swipe.
If that's the route they want to go down, they also need to develop an Olympic-like thick skin to go with their sporting talents.
Or perhaps, especially for big events such as the Olympics, they should followAussie sprint cyclist Anna Meares' example.
The British are eager to paint Meares, who is absolutely lovely, as the bad-guy in a hotly anticipated battle with "Queen" Victoria Pendleton.
While Pendleton, a face (and body) of the London Games, has been talking up the scrap, Meares opted to take herself offline for the duration of the Games.
Time will tell which tactic was more sensible.
● You can follow Nathan Burdon on Twitter, @nathanburdon
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