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Cross the Chinese competitors in Rio, or dare to question their competitive honesty amid allegations of doping — and you’ll become the target.
That’s what happened to Australian Olympic swimmer Mack Horton. Horton won the gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle over China’s Sun Yang by a razor-thin .16 seconds.
Anyone with the name Mack Horton was suddenly in the digital line of fire from legions of angry Chinese fans online.
In a post-win interview, Horton described his win over Sun as a victory “for the good guys,” and later clarified what he meant, calling Sun a “drug cheat.” Sun was banned from international competition in 2014 for three months after testing positive for doping.
Horton’s comments sparked massive fury from millions in the the east Asian Communist nation.
Anyone with the name Mack Horton was suddenly in the digital line of fire from legions of angry Chinese fans online. An unrelated 36 year-old IT worker in Britain who shared the same name was reportedly the recipient of more than 300,000 enraged tweets.
So bad was the online harassment for any namesakes of the Australian swimmer that his father apologized for the sudden nuisance.
“We probably just need to apologize to every Horton who has a name like Mack,” Andrew Horton said, according to the Herald Sun, “because they have really copped a fair shellacking over the last couple of days.”
Horton’s social media accounts were hacked, along with the official website of Australian swimming and the Australian census bureau.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics confirmed the reports saying, “It was an attack, and we believe from overseas.”
China is notorious for hacking into the records and databases of other nations and businesses. The country has also come under sustained criticism for manipulating its currency — paramount to economic cheating. Now the Chinese are taking aim at anyone who dares to question their competitive honesty at the Olympics, and doing what they’re best at — trying to hack their way to the top.