TOKYO, Aug. 3 (Reuters) – Women’s lightweight Kellie Harrington stays away from social media to eliminate distractions in her battle for gold at the Tokyo Olympics – even though it prevents her from seeing posts support from home.
The 31-year-old Irishwoman, widely expected to win the title, highlighted the pressures social media can put on athletes, days after Simone Biles opened up about her mental health issues and the difficulty of coping with scrutiny online.
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Harrington beat Algeria’s Imane Khelif in the quarter-finals at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on Tuesday, securing at least one bronze medal, in what is expected to be Ireland’s second boxing medal in Tokyo.
“I quit social media, so I can’t contact anyone and respond to their messages,” she told reporters.
“Sometimes people can message you and say ‘Good luck, but you’re against it cause this girl’s arms are Christmas length.’ And I thought ‘oh my God.’ That makes you think so and I I prefer to stay out of it. “
The lucidity appeared to bear fruit in her fight against Khelif, which she won by unanimous decision, with Harrington saying she felt justified when the Algerian started to stick her tongue out in an apparent attempt to taunt her.
“When someone starts doing it then you know you’ve got it in your head and they’re going to start throwing shots and missing, which she did,” said world champion Harrington. 2018 lightweight worker who works part-time as a cleaner in a Dublin hospital.
Meanwhile, for British bronze medalist Karriss Artingstall, social media has been a vital way to connect with fans – even though she disconnected in the last stretch before her fights.
The 26-year-old featherweight, an armed forces athlete, was beaten in the semifinals by Japan’s Sena Irie, who won gold on Tuesday.
“Social media kicked me in the back,” Artingstall said, citing “massive support” from the military, his hometown and his mother.
“For me, I needed to be on social media. Obviously, an hour or two before the fight, I was completely out of it, because I was entering the zone.”
Reporting by David Dolan; edited by John Stonestreet
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