Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has hit out social media users who insult athletes, urging them to “think twice before you hurl an insult.”
The Israel Start-Up Nation rider, no stranger to online insults himself – there is even a Twitter account dedicated to whether Froome, still recovering from a near-career ending crash in 2019, has “been dropped yet” – was speaking on a video he posted to his YouTube channel.
Talking about “the whole mental health side of professional sport,” he said: “I think it’s something that has really been highlighted the last few weeks, at the Olympics especially,
“As a community, I think that generally there’s expectations on athletes now that they are almost super-human, but I don’t think all athletes are necessarily super-human in terms of dealing with emotions and all the criticisms that are sometimes 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,” he continued.
“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 if you passed them in the street or a supermarket.
“People wouldn’t say the things that they say on social media directly to the athlete.
“But I think that especially with the Olympics this year, it’s been really highlighted, that there are so many athletes that really struggle with that pressure and in a way, I think that 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, having to be so strong to deal with all the extra criticism and things that are put onto them.”
Froome continued: “If I can put any message out there, I’d just say, think twice before you hurl an insult at an athlete.
“We’re all out there giving our best every time we represent our country or our team. We want to give our best performance.
“It’s not as if athletes are out there trying not to do their best and I think a lot of athletes are criticised pretty heavily.
“We shouldn’t be so quick to criticise them when they maybe don’t meet expectations,” he added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.