Monday, August 13, 2012

Voula Papachristou 'bitter and upset' over Olympic ban

Papachristou became the first athlete to be banned from the Olympics for a message that she posted on Twitter.

CAPTION AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, the 23-year-old triple jumper from Greece sounded off about her emotions since the ruling.

"I have not slept at all and to be honest I am still trying to come to terms with what has happened," she told Reuters. "I am trying to stay calm otherwise I would lose control.

"I am thankful to my coach and family and so many other people who have stuck by me.... After so many years of hurt and sacrifices to try and get to my first Olympics I am very bitter and upset. But what has upset me the most is the excessive reaction and speed of the disciplinary decision.

"I don't know if they want to make an example out of me because of my profile, this is for others to judge, but what I believe is that they used their maximum disciplinary power on me for this," Papachristou said. "They went straight to the final stage in excluding me from the team, which was highly excessive."

Papachristou was punished for posting this racist tweet on July 22: "So many Africans in Greece at least West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food."

She later issued an apology on Twitter:

"I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account. I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights.

"My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values. Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races."

This would have been the first Olympic Games for Papachristou. Instead she'll be remembered for making history the wrong way.