They might not be setting the benchmark they expected in the pool, but Australian gold medal favourite Emily Seebohm has set a new precedent for explaining underachievement at the Olympics by blaming her social media addiction for failing to win the 100-metres backstroke title.
While James "The Missile" Magnussen and his rebranded "Weapons of Self Destruction" were still copping flak for their fourth placing in the 4x100 freestyle relay yesterday, Seebohm said positive reinforcement from some of her 6536 Twitter followers was a factor in her being beaten into second place by American Missy Franklin overnight.
Seebohm had been the overwhelming favourite to win Australia's second gold at the aquatic complex after her ominous performances in the heat and semifinal.
But when the medals were at stake, she could not match her heat time or Franklin, who had barely dried off from her previous race 20 minutes earlier.
"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.'. 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," she said, regretting her addiction to social media sites.
"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 are 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.
Seebohm, meanwhile, might be wise not to Google the reaction to her novel excuse.
"I've heard a lot of crap excuses over time but this one is fantastic. How about you just got beat? said Dave Signor, on Twitter.
"How?" asked Breanna Tucker, was the forum to blame: "Was she tweeting from the pool?"
Seebohm's theory might not actually hold water however, considering Franklin is a more prolific tweeter and has 95,500 followers all of which were thanked today for "their love and support".
The Australian still has a chance for gold when she lines up in the 4x100m medley relay on Saturday night so fans are requested to type no words of encouragement to @emcbomb. Perhaps a change of handle is appropriate.
- © Fairfax NZ News