China's US-born figure skater Zhu Yi faced verbal abuse after falling twice in 2 Olympic events

A commenter on Weibo said her performance was "a disgrace".

Jean Chien Tay | February 08, 2022, 07:00 PM

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U.S.-born figure skater Zhu Yi who represented China in the Beijing Winter Olympics was blasted by Chinese social media users after she fell flat on the ice during the women's short programme team event and finished last, The Washington Post reported.

Called a "disgrace"

The 19-year-old Zhu tumbled when attempting a jump, and crashed into a wall, knocking China from third to fifth place in the team event on Feb. 6, Reuters reported.

A commenter on the Chinese social media site Weibo called her performance "a disgrace", and the hashtag "Zhu Yi has fallen" gained 200 million views in a matter of hours, CNN reported.

However, the discussion appeared to be censored a few hours later.

The figure skater became the target of critics again on Feb. 7, after she fell and came in last for a free skate event, according to DW.

At the time of writing, the search phrase of Zhu Yi's fall was still trending on Weibo.

"(I) criticise her not because of her mistake, she just simply gave up without a fight. Why don't she go to hell? China's figure skating (team) doesn't need you (Zhu Yi)."

"Forgiving her would mean being cruel to the rest of the athletes who are working hard. Everyone makes mistakes, but going down without a fight, treating the competition like a playground, and being afraid of falling down and getting hurt is really not up to standard."

"For an ethnic Chinese athlete who can't speak Mandarin well and can't read Chinese, who relied on her father's connections to get into an Ivy League school, and who joined the Olympics just to bump up her resume, her results are not bad."

Zhu was picked instead of China-born athlete

Zhu was inconsolable and was seen wiping away tears after the competition on Feb. 6, saying that she felt "upset and a little embarrassed", Reuters reported.

In a quivering voice, the figure skater said she "felt a lot of pressure" and wanted to prove herself to people in China as she was a surprise pick for the event.

According to CNN, Zhu was picked to represent China at the expense of another athlete who was born in China.

Despite her mistake, the result was enough for the Chinese team to qualify for the next round of the competition.

Among at least a dozen foreign-born athletes competing for China

Zhu was born in Los Angeles, California, to a Chinese immigrant family, and gave up her American citizenship in 2018 to compete for China, CNN reported.

She also changed her name from Beverly Zhu to Zhu Yi.

The figure skater is reportedly among at least a dozen foreign-born athletes who were recruited by China to strengthen their Winter Olympics team.

However, she has faced criticism in China for not being able to speak fluent Mandarin.

Additionally, some commenters also took aim at her privileged background -- her father is an award-winning artificial intelligence scientist who joined Peking University from the University of California in 2020.

Chinese athletes face huge pressure to achieve results at the Olympics, and those who underperformed have been criticised in the past.

Stark contrast to Eileen Gu's treatment

Zhu's treatment is in stark contrast to another U.S. born athlete who also switched allegiances to China -- Eileen Gu.

Known as Gu Ailing in China, the 18-year-old freestyle skiing athlete was dubbed a "genius" and "a super idol among Chinese young people" by Chinese state-controlled media Global Times (GT).

Gu is born to a Chinese mother and American father, and can speak fluent Mandarin.

She also spent every summer visiting Beijing when she was growing up, Chinese state media Xinhua News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, Gu has also weighed in on the controversy surrounding Zhu, claiming that over 90 per cent of the comments she saw on Chinese social media were "positive and uplifting".

Image via Weibo.

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