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Zhu Yi, figure skater who gave up American citizenship to compete for China, attacked online by Chinese fans after falling during Olympic debut

Emotional day of competition at Winter Olympics
Emotional day of competition at Winter Olympics 01:33

Chinese figure skater Zhu Yi has faced vitriol online after she fell during her debut performance at the Beijing Winter Olympics. The 19-year-old, who was born in California, gave up her American citizenship to compete for China.

The teen left the skating rink at Capital Indoor Stadium in tears Monday after she fell twice during the free skate event, part of women's team competition. China finished fifth in the event. 

Figure Skating - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 3
Zhu Yi falls on day three of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on Monday. / Getty Images

Her latest performance comes a day after Zhu failed to complete her opening combination in the women's short program, stumbled and crashed into a wall. She finished last, dropping China's position from third to fifth in the team standings. Following her Sunday performance, Zhu told the South China Morning Post that she was "upset and a little embarrassed."

"I guess I felt a lot of pressure because I know everybody in China was pretty surprised with the selection for ladies' singles and I just really wanted to show them what I was able to do but unfortunately I didn't," she said. 

Figure Skating - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 2
Zhu fell and crashed into a wall at Capital Indoor Stadium on Sunday.  / Getty Images

She instead faced fans' ire on Weibo, a social media platform predominantly used in China. Users called her an "embarrassment" and others justified the attacks online, saying she "deserves it."

Zhu's participation was controversial before she stepped on the ice representing the Chinese flag. Some Weibo users took issue with her not knowing how to speak Chinese fluently and spouted conspiracy theories that she was only chosen to compete for China because of her father, Song-Chun Zhu, a well-regarded Chinese artificial intelligence professor who teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Zhu, who was born with the name Beverly before changing it to Yi in 2018, will have her chance at redemption on February 15 when she will compete in the singles competition. 

As of Monday morning Eastern Time, host China has two gold and two silver medals. The United States has yet to grab its first gold medal of the Beijing Games. 

Shuai Zhang contributed.

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