Tennis star Iga Świątek has sent Mikaela Shiffrin a heartfelt video, emphasising her admiration for the skiing icon, after she was subject to a barrage of social media abuse.
Shiffrin is one of the most successful alpine skiers in history and is a three-time Overall World Cup winner. She is also a two-time Olympic gold medallist and the youngest Olympic alpine skiing champion in history, having won gold in Sochi aged just 18.
However, the Beijing Games have proven to be a real struggle for Shiffrin. Ahead of the competition, the US star was vying for as many as five medals, but she has failed to win any so far, with just one event remaining.
The 26-year-old was disqualified from the slalom and the giant slalom for missing gates, before crashing out of the women’s combined.
Her three DNF’s at these Games are all the more surprising when you consider this matches the number of times it’s happened over the previous four years.
Shiffrin was left fighting back tears after her disappointment and admitted she felt like a failure.
“I don’t know if there’s anybody who ever had so many opportunities to get a medal in the Olympic Games and failed so many times,” she stressed.
To compound Shiffrin’s miserable experience at these Winter Olympics, the skier revealed on Twitter that she’s received vile abuse from others online.
Shiffrin posted screenshots of some of the messages she had sent to her recently, many of which describe her as a “choker” and someone who can’t handle the pressure.
Despite the hate comments, Shiffrin is seemingly trying her best to ignore the haters and posted a message emphasising she is still just as motivated to succeed.
“Well kids… feed em what you wanna feed em. Self-pity, sadness… let the turkeys get you down,” she said.
“Why do I keep coming back? Gosh knows it hurts more than it feels good lately. I come back because those first [nine] turns today were spectacular, really heaven. That’s where I’m meant to be and I’m stubborn as s**t.
“So let’s go for some team event training tomorrow and then the final alpine race of this Olympics on Saturday.”
A number of sports stars have offered support to Shiffrin in recent days, including gymnastics legend Simone Biles.
The latest to offer solace, however, is former French Open champion Świątek.
In a video message, via Discovery Eurosport, the 20-year-old said: “Hi Mikaela. I know these must be tough moments for you but really you should remember how hugely inspirational you are for all of us. Not only as an athlete but as a person.
“These are not just empty words, you know that and I know that. You also inspired me and I’m really grateful to have an opportunity to chat with you and talk to you and to meet you someday when Covid is gone.
“I really hope you’re going to keep going and keep being as strong as you are because you’re doing great.”
Świątek reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open last month and is currently ranked fourth in the world.
While tennis and skiing have never gone hand in hand, the Polish star’s words prove that athletes can often provide the best support to one another in times of need.
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