Even Olympians like Rebecca Adlington Get Trolled

By Alan Dymock

We are all familiar with Trolls. Those people that hang out on Twitter just to take pot shots at other, normally high profile, people. Your superstars get it, perhaps out of jealousy, but usually out of a desire to be acknowledged at the same time as hoping to remain in the shadows, safe.

The hatred spread from such anonymity is always hoped not to come back to the abuser. This is the illusion of Twitter. It looks on the surface to be a stinging comment thrown away by a user, never to leave a private discourse between two subjects.

That is not how it works. Look at the case of Twitter abuse leveled at Fabrice Muamba. Following his near death experience on the pitch a young man tweeted that he hoped the player would die. There were also racist undertones to this barb.

The man in question, despite not specifically directing his comments, was apprehended and sentenced to time in jail. These are not just words, they are words accessible by a large number of people and they can hurt.

British world and Olympic champion swimmer Rebecca Adlington knows all too well about abuse.

A Scottish comedian, Frankie Boyle, was lambasted in the British press following comments in 2008 after Adlington had won two gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. On popular TV show Mock the Week the panelist joked that “The thing that nobody really said about Rebecca Adlington is that she looks pretty weird. She looks like someone who’s looking at themselves in the back of a spoon”.

Although it drew laughs it was cruel. The type of cruelty one hears every day. Adlington said in ’09 she was over it. However, now the 23-year-old is vowing a self-imposed Twitter prohibition for the duration of the Games so as to avoid abuse.

Boasting some 50,000 followers the medal hopeful is very aware of trolling about her appearance. With the chance to swim at home for an Olympic title is a dream come true for her and so it makes sense that she would not want to break her concentration by forcing herself to deal with personal insults.

We live in an age of huge endorsements, television news channels and multitudes of billboards. One of the World’s best talents should not be abused because of what she has to put up there.

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