Chris Froome has warned fans of the sports to be careful when they criticise athletes because they are not all, 'superhuman,' given the added pressure of social media.
The Israel Start-Up Nation veteran has previously discussed on his YouTube videos how abusive comments have been towards him as he makes his way back from a huge crash in the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine that required surgery and extensive rehabilitation.
In his most recent video, Froome explained: “As a community there are expectations on athletes now that they are almost superhuman.
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“I don’t think all athletes are necessarily superhuman in terms of how they deal with emotions and all the criticisms that are thrown their way.
“We see more and more athletes who are really struggling because of the direct access through social media and other media outlets. People can sit behind a screen and throw insults at an athlete in a way that you wouldn’t do if you saw them in person, or you were passing in the street or in the supermarket.”
There have been numerous instances of pressure on athletes becoming untenable. Arkea-Samsic rider Nacer Bouhanni suffered racist abuse after coming together with Jake Stewart at Cholet-Pays de la Loire. Away from cycling, Naomi Osaka stopped doing press conferences and eventually withdrew from Roland-Garros because her mental health was taking a hit. At Euro 2020, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho all were targeted with abuse on their social media presences after they missed penalties at the competition’s final against Italy.
“People wouldn’t say the things that they say on social media directly to the athlete but I think, especially with the Olympics this year, it has been highlighted that there are so many athletes who really struggle with that pressure,” Froome continued.
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“In a way I think being an athlete should be about what they actually do in terms of their athletic or sporting capability, not necessarily this other side of things and having to be so strong to deal with all the extra criticism.
“If I can put any message out there I’d just say just think twice before you hurl an insult at an athlete. We are all out there obviously giving our best every time we represent our country or our team. We want to give our best performance so it's not as if athletes are out there trying not to do their best and a lot of athletes are criticised pretty heavily. We shouldn't be so quick to criticise them when maybe they don’t meet expectations.”
Froome took part in the Tour de France, though he did not lead his team, and he is now set to take part in the Deutschland Tour next week.
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