“Haha rlly (sic) we still talking about this?? You got enough attention from this already. Stop now.”
This is how Nick Kyrgios responded − in his medium of choice, Twitter − to Kitty Chiller’s account on the events that led to his exclusion from the Australian Olympics. The tweet was Kyrgios’ latest attack through social media to Australia’s Chef de Mission for the 2016 Australian Olympic Team.
The two have been engaged in a war of words throughout most of the year, ever since the head of the Australian Olympic Committee chose to publicly reprimand the tennis star (along with Bernard Tomic) for not conducting themselves as Olympians should.
Kyrgios has responded with furore, with the embarrassing back and forth resulting in the tennis player stating he would not compete at the Rio Olympics, attributing his withdrawal to the “unfair and unjust treatment” by the AOC, which he said had launched “unwarranted attacks” against him.
It was a preemptive move on his part, as it would seem unlikely that the AOC would endorse his inclusion on the team after his insulting tweets towards Chiller.
Now the Chef de Mission has shed new light to the story, giving an interview to Fairfax Media stating the specific tweet that “threw her over the edge”.
She pointed out a tweet by Kyrgios that came after one of his followers pointed out that Chiller had finished 14th in the modern pentathlon at the Sydney Olympics. “Haha she came 14th I don’t think that counts as competing in the Olympics [sic]” was the tennis star’s reaction.
“That cut me to the quick,” said Chiller, describing how this remark opened an old wound. “In retrospect, that was an emotional response with me not being happy with 14th [in Sydney] 16 years ago. I’m sure, if I psychoanalysed it, that’s why it affected me,” she said. “It also brought back – and this really annoys me – the times when people say, ‘Who’s she? What’s she done?’ That’s irrelevant. It’s f—ing irrelevant to what I’ve done in this role. It’s a perception of some people that if you’re not a gold medallist or swimmer or rower or track and field runner, you’re no good. Nobody knows my story.”
The Chef de Mission went on to describe the circumstances that led to her poor performance in the Olympics, stating how she took on pentathlon (a sport in which athletes compete in fencing, pistol shooting, swimming, show jumping and cross-country running), in 1982, hoping to become an Olympian two years later in Los Angeles. Instead, the women’s competition wasn’t admitted until 2000.
At the time she competed, she was 36 and reeling from a series of injuries, both physical and psychological – on top of a broken nose, fractured skull and pneumonia, she was going through a divorce from her husband/physiotherapist and, on the eve of the opening ceremony, she fractured her knee cap in training.
“Was my Olympic dream to finish 14th?” she said. “No. I did the best I could. But it showed me that everyone should be treated equally. […] I don’t want it to appear that I am bitter. There is not one ounce of anger in me. It’s just how it was.”
This was not how Kyrgios’ fans viewed her account. “Chiller’s playing the victim here?!? Pathetic. What a thoroughly unprofessional job she’s done,” one of them tweeted, while more echoed the sentiment, saying that the Chef de Mission is continuing the debate, looking for her ’15 minutes of fame’.
Some did come to the defence of Chiller, who has been the most recognisable face of the AOC since she was appointed to the role in 2013. One tweeted: “Kyrgios ATP ranking 18. Chiller 14th at Olympics. Chiller winner by knock out.”
To which Kyrgios replied: “haha rlly? Let’s look that one over again. And compare sports.”
The debate is still going on in social media, with some voices dismissing both sides, calling on them to “grow up”.