American-born Chinese figure skater Zhu Yi suffered a setback on her Olympic debut on Sunday after falling twice during the women’s short program.
Zhu, 19, finished with the lowest score at Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium after failing her jump and falling on her starting combination, and missed another jump later in the program.
Skating under The Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black, Zhu scored 47.03 after she fell on her first combined triple flip triple toe loop, crashed into a wall and messed up her triple loop later in the set.
Her performance knocked China from third to fifth place in the team standings.
Zhu, born Beverly Zu, chose to compete for China in the 2018 Olympics. She changed her name and renounced her American citizenship, but continues to be criticized for her poor Chinese skills.
Her poor debut performance now raises some questions as to why a California skater was chosen to represent China rather than a native-born figure skater.
American-born Chinese figure skater Zhu Yi was criticized on Chinese social media after she fell twice during her Olympic debut at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Sunday.
Zhu, who performed to The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”, scored 47.03 after she fell on her first triple flip-triple toe loop combo, crashed into a wall and messed up her triple loop later in the set.
Her performance dropped China from third to fifth place in the team standings.
Zhu was reportedly inconsolable after the performance.
“I’m upset and a little embarrassed,” Zhu told the media. “Last night I counted over and over how many points I need to score today to help my team move forward.”
“I think I felt a lot of pressure because I know that everyone in China was very surprised by the selection of the women’s singles and I just really wanted to show them what I can do, but unfortunately I didn’t.” she added.
Despite the poor performance, 24-year-old Chinese figure skater and two-time world bronze medalist Jin Boyang asked people to be kind to Zhu.
In recent years, China has recruited at least a dozen foreign-born athletes, including Zhu (pictured), to play on the Olympic team.
“Zhu is a hardworking girl and should not be blamed for her first performance on the Olympic stage, good or bad,” he told Xinhua News Agency.
Jin, who argued that it was understandable that the Olympic debutant was clumsy in his performance, believed that the young skater was probably under a lot of pressure.
“I fully understand her position. I was there too,” he explained. “She’s under tremendous pressure as she is China’s last entry in the team short program and the only female figure skater, especially after being selected from two other girls.”
He added: “The Winter Olympics is the chance of a lifetime for every athlete. I hope we can gain strength from the fact that we did our best and made history by putting the disappointment of past mistakes behind us.”
However, many Chinese citizens did not take well to Zhu’s sympathy and instead criticized her on social media.
“Zhu Yi Has Fallen” has been popular on Chinese social media platform Weibo, with some users criticizing it for its alleged false patriotism.
“Please let her learn Chinese first before she talks about patriotism,” wrote one Weibo user.
“It’s such a shame,” commented another after racking up 11,000 likes from other users.
“Anyone might wonder how she was chosen for the team. Is it because her father is a scientist? repeated another.
Many Chinese citizens didn’t take Zhu’s romp well with sympathy and instead blew it up on social media.
One Weibo user added, “Zhu Yi, what a funny performance you have! How dare you ride for China? You are not even up to the mark of an amateur! repeated another.
“Waiting for the storm that belongs to Zhu Yi, but in reality. What is this slippage? another user said.
Although the 19-year-old girl was mostly met with hatred, several Weibo users showed her some kindness.
“I hope people don’t say this (insult) to Zhu,” wrote one.
“The level of our team is still far behind Russia and the United States. He has already shown courage by stepping on stage. No one who competes for the first time can perform perfectly. It’s okay if she can correct her condition at the next competition, ”said another.
In recent years, China has attracted at least a dozen foreign-born athletes to compete on the Olympic team, CNN reported, and Zhu was one of them.
Analysts say the social media attack on the performer highlights the pressure naturalized athletes face to compete under the Chinese flag.
In addition to being criticized for her American roots, she also faces backlash for coming from a supposedly privileged background with family ties.
Her father, Zhu Songchun, an award-winning scientist, joined the staff of Peking University in Beijing in 2020. He previously worked at the University of California, Los Angeles.