China swimmer: Netizens leap to Ye Shiwen's defence

China's Ye Shiwen holds her gold medal on the podium of the women's 400m individual medley final swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games, 28 July 2012
Image caption Sixteen-year-old Ye Shiwen set a new world record with her 400m medley swim

There has been strong reaction in China to questions over the performance of Olympic swimming champion Ye Shiwen, with internet users leaping to her defence.

The 16-year-old, who won gold in the 400m individual medley after breaking her personal best by at least five seconds, has strongly denied doping suggestions.

Ye has been praised as a champion in the media.

"Who would have thought that 16-year-old Ye Shiwen could have flared with such immense power?" said the People's Daily Overseas Edition on Monday.

"Given that the event is usually a lead-up her favourite event - the 200 IM [Individual Medley] - her future does indeed appear bright," China Daily said on Monday.

But the questions over her victory have also been reported.

The Global Times' Chinese edition says both British and German media cast doubts over Ye's performance, while a further report from its website takes aim at BBC commentator Clare Balding, accusing her of triggering the row.

The issue is being widely discussed in cyberspace, with many angry comments making the rounds.

"Defaming Ye Shiwen is shameful bias and [reflects a] 'sour grapes' mentality," a widely republished blog entry on says.

A forum post on says: "Western rogue media insulted 16-year-old Chinese Olympic champion Ye Shiwen!"

The West is increasingly desperate and afraid of an emerging China, the post said, "scrambling" for China's economic benefit on one hand while "doing its best to contain and suppress the increasingly prosperous China".

Weibo platforms - China's Twitter equivalents - also saw hundreds of thousands of comments in support of Ms Ye.

On Sina Weibo the hash tag "Ye Shiwen reacts to doping allegations" is being used, while Tencent Weibo is using: "How could Ye Shiwen swim quicker than men?".

Some accused the British of envy. "You Brits, don't join the Olympic Games if you can't afford losing," wrote one Tencent Weibo user in Sichuan.

"Who said she took some drugs? Ask that person to try it - let's see if they can swim quicker than [Michael] Phelps?" commented a Sina Weibo user in Tianjin.

Others said Ye's swim was the product of effort and training.

A user in Beijing asked why the extent of human endeavour was being questioned, saying: "Isn't it the Olympic spirit that encourages people to go higher, quicker and stronger?"

"Nothing is impossible if you work hard," said another weibo user in Nanjing.

But one Chinese weibo user from Monash, Australia, said British commentators had freedom of speech and so could ask what questions they liked.

"Also I don't think Ye Shiwen would be that bothered or afraid of such criticism, do you?", the user wrote.

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