JAKARTA: Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and Malaysia’s sports minister have leapt to the defence of a teenage skateboarder who was viciously targeted online over her poor performance at the Asian Games.
Fatin Syahirah Roszizi, 16, finished in eighth and last place in the women’s street final on Wednesday, falling off within seconds of the start in two of her runs.
The Philippines’ Margielyn Didal bagged gold with a score of 30.4 — compared to Fatin’s 5.4.
But Fatin’s Asiad experience sunk to a new low after the final when she found herself subject to a tide of vitriolic comments on Facebook.
Choudhry Sundaram Padiachee said the final was a “disgrace towards the nation”, while Wan Noraziah Aziz asked: “Did she go there (to the Asian Games) using her own money?”
Others said there were better Malaysian skaters but they hadn’t been given a chance to go to the Games.
The abuse prompted Fatin to delete all her posts on Instagram, before posting a message apologising for her performance.
However, skateboarding impresario Hawk was one of thousands who rushed to the teenager’s defence.
“Don’t give up! If I had listened to the haters throughout my life, I would have stopped skating way too soon,” Hawk wrote on Instagram.
“They are simply projecting their insecurities on you because they wish they had the courage to follow their dreams. You can be an inspiration to a new generation of Malaysian skaters.”
Malaysia’s sports minister Syed Saddiq said on Twitter that “this (abuse) should never happen”.
“It’s easy for people to criticise, but we are not in her place. To be 16 and representing your country, the pressure must be unimaginable,” he posted.
Fatin is not the only athlete to be targeted by trolls.
Seventeen-year-old gymnast Izzah Amzan, also representing Muslim-majority Malaysia, was criticised over the outfit she wore to compete in Jakarta, with some saying it was too skimpy.
It comes after Malaysia’s Farah Ann Abdul Hadi was criticised for wearing revealing clothing at the 2015 Southeast Games.
Some Facebook users slammed the then 21-year-old for her attire, saying they could see the shape or her “aurat” (genitalia) in her leotard.