BEIJING (AFP): China appeared Sunday (Feb) to censor an outpouring of social media vitriol against a naturalised US-born figure skater who took a tumble at the Beijing Games and nearly cost the hosts dear.
The 19-year-old Beverly Zhu, who was born and raised in the United States but now competes for China under the name Zhu Yi, came last in the women's singles short programme in the team event.
It was a nervous performance from Zhu, who fell early on and looked to be holding back tears as she awaited her score.
China fell from third to fifth and only narrowly squeezed through to the free programme.
On China's Twitter-like Weibo the hashtag #ZhuYiFellOver racked up over 230 million views before being deactivated, with searches late Sunday afternoon returning no results.
Another hashtag -- #ZhuYiMessedUp -- remained accessible, clocking over 80 million views.
"I guess because I missed the first jump I was just kind of frazzled and felt a lot of pressure on landing that last jump, and unfortunately I popped it," said Zhu, who chose in 2018 to skate for China.
But there was little sympathy online, with some questioning the decision to select her ahead of a team-mate.
"Chen Hongyi is far better than her. I don't know why someone like this was allowed to represent China," wrote one commenter.
Another added: "Sure, there's lots of pressure -- but show me an athlete who doesn't go out there under pressure from their country and people?"
Some brought up Zhu's father, Zhu Songchun, a leading artificial intelligence expert who returned to China to head a key research institute in 2020.
"Congratulations to the Chinese figure skating team for making such a huge contribution to the field of computing!" wrote one, drily.