Dear life, when I asked if this day could get any worse, that was a rhetorical question, not a challenge.
Night 1 at the Swimming, my aquatic goosebumps were at an all-time chlorine high. I had been at the Alabama training camp with the Dolphins for the past 2 weeks, I got to know them better, I had seen what it takes to win an Olympic medal, and now their time was about to come. We had Mack Horton (more about him later) and the 4x100m freestyle girls going for Gold tonight. And that they did. Woohoo. Australia lead the overall Medal tally.
But it wasn't my night. Technology fails me. The Wifi crashes. Big time. 200 photographers simply crash it with the work they were assigned to do. I can’t get the pics to the Melbourne Swim office to put images on their Social Media.
OK, I’m a professional, don’t panic, I have a Vodafone Hotspot, I’ll just use my personal data to push them through. I have since found out that Hotspots are banned and blocked in every Olympic Venue.
Text messages from the Melbourne office keep coming in. They are there waiting for anything I can get to them. I can’t understand why my Vodafone Hotspot Plan B isn't working.
The sweat and stress levels were crushing all logic and reason. Had the photo tribune not been so cramped with photographers, this was the moment I would collapse onto the pool deck floor and crawl into a foetal position. Sobbing.
I went back to my room that night, a man broken.
I woke up the next day to find 1800 of the most hateful abuse all over my Social Media accounts. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook covered in verbal shitflings. And they were all from China. WTF.
It took me three days to delete and get the the filth under control. I’m only now receiving just a trickle of hate.
It kept coming for days, it was relentless. I had to change my social media handles. Block followers. Change my instagram to private settings. I was getting 100 requests an hour to follow me, and the requests were all from China. My 3 days at these Games were being sabotaged by circumstances way beyond my control.
OK, so let’s go back a step, a day earlier actually. Mack had mentioned that his Chinese opponent was not as ‘clean’ an athlete as he makes out to be. Mack then goes and wins Gold that night. His opponent gets Silver.
Mack asks me for some photos of his victory to put on his social media. I agree, he is a top bloke, a great hobby photographer, and friend. He respects my work and does the right thing tagging me on his Twitter and Instagram post.
Then shit hits the fan. Shit stamped with the badge ‘Made In China’, from all the fans of Mack’s Chinese opponent. And I don’t need to remind you that there are a lot of people in China.
So in their anger, they started firing verbal ballistic missiles at Mack. They retweet and reply to his post with language and expletives that I never knew existed. From another planet one wouldn't dare live on. I was under bombardment, being struck with explosive shrapnel from the hits Mack was having to endure. All because of my photoninja handle was on his comments and within their replies. It was a snowball rolling down a hill gaining momentum and size as it traveled.
I ducked for cover, and began deleting comments and blocking my new found Chinese followers. Then it became personal because I was blocking and deleting. The ‘Made in China’ missiles were now realigned and headed in my direction. Aimed at my heritage, my family, my sexuality, and so many more things.
I held my position and kept my head down in my ‘virtual’ bunker. EmmaJ in the UK pulled over on the A1 and sent me some Duck Face selfies to cheer me up. It did work, even though she sucked at duck. JulieK from Nikon called me when she saw the Chinese comments and made me laugh at its absurdity. And it was absurd. She then showed me where the Poop emoticon was on my iphone. Finally I smiled.
It was then that I felt a cool change coming. The southerly wind that blows in after a stinking hot summer day in Sydney.
Three absolute shitty days to start, but you know what, I still had 12 days to turn this around. I am here doing what I do best. Trying to produce some photo magic. Win lose or draw, that’s why I am here. It’s a challenge and a privilege.
So on Day 4 I respectfully avoid the Chinese food served at the Media Dining Hall buffet at lunchtime. Revenge was mine.
Read all about it, beware there is some rude stuff, and check all the dellyphotoninja tags ….. https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/sport/chinese-twitter-continues-to-dogpile-mack-horton--/086b072b-c2fa-46c9-82af-d1565e4f7a14.htm