Controversy has ensued the 400m men’s Olympic freestyle swimming competition with Mack Horton disabling his Instagram commenting after the Australian beat out China’s Sun Yang by just 0.13 of a second to take home the gold on Saturday.
The intense rivalry and drama began when the 20-year-old swimmer accused Sun of intentionally splashing water in his face at an earlier training session in Rio.
“I didn’t respond because I don’t have time for drug cheats,” the Australian told the media. Horton was referring to the 2014 suspension issued down to Sun after testing positive to a banned substance. The Chinese athlete at the time claimed via Swimming World Magazine that it was from a drug he had been taking for medical reasons which he didn’t know was on the banned list.
“I don’t care too much what the Australian athlete say…I’m clean; I’ve done everything it takes to prove I’m clean,”
“I will take it as a lesson and be more careful in the future,” he told reporters.
Citing this apparent discrepancy, Horton added fuel to the fire by saying that his 400m victory was a win for “the good guys”.
“I used the words drug cheat because he tested positive…I just have a problem with athletes who have tested positive and are still competing,” he said.
Sun, who has had a rather tattered history of misbehaving inside and outside of the pool himself (he crashed into the back of a bus whilst driving a Porsche unlicensed and was accused of kicking and elbowing a Brazilian swimmer) rebutted the claim, saying: “I don’t care too much what the Australian athlete say…I’m clean; I’ve done everything it takes to prove I’m clean,”
Supporters of the Chinese swimmer shortly began inundating the Australian swimmer’s Instagram and Twitter with a barrage of abuse calling him out for his racist and unsportsmanlike behaviour. They also demanded that he apologise to Sun with the hashtag #ApologizeToSunYang trending heavily.
The scathing comments from Chinese supporters were so intense that Horton today disabled all commenting on his Instagram account, leaving us with just the screenshots below:
On Sunday Sun fired another shot at the Australian after speaking to Channel 7 cameras outside the aquatic centre. Appearing elusive to reporters at first, Sun was asked about Horton and replied, “No, no friend” as he waited for a bus.
Pressed further if he would beat Horton in the upcoming 1500m freestyle, Sun simply replied: “1500 metre. I am the king. Yeah?”
Besides the blanket ban on Instagram comments, Horton hasn’t spoken any further of the issue.