After a disappointing routine at the uneven bars women's final on Sunday, U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas said she was upset by "negative" online comments attacking her appearance, patriotism and support for teammates.
Douglas, 20, has sparkled as part of the winning all-star U.S. women's team in Rio - but social media attacks have been so vicious they have ruined her Olympic adventure, Douglas' mother told Reuters.
The London 2012 all-around gold medallist, Douglas failed to qualify for the competition in Rio and her Sunday routine on the uneven bars - long her strong suit - was marked by hesitations that pushed her down to the second-to-last place.
"There's been a lot of negativity, it's just been a little bit hard and at the same time very upsetting," Douglas told reporters in Rio about the online attacks.
"When I would read those comments it was just like, "What? Really?"
Some on Twitter, however, have started a #love4gabbyusa hashtag in response. Comedian Leslie Jones even showed her support, tweeting "Yo I just heard Gabby getting attacked on her page show her the love you showed me #LOVE4GABBYUSA send to @gabrielledoug."
Douglas has been targeted over her hair, a perceived lack of patriotism for not placing her hand over her heart as the U.S. anthem was played during a medal ceremony, and for not joining a standing ovation for teammates Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.
Douglas said she never meant any disrespect by not placing her hand over her heart during the national anthem.
"I always stand at attention out of respect for our country whenever the national anthem is played," she said.
In response to her not cheering for her teammates, she apologized for appearing upset in the stands.
"I was supporting Aly. I will always will support them and respect them," she told reporters. "I don't want anyone to take it as jealous or I wanted attention. Never. I support them and I'm sorry I wasn't showing it."
It is not the first time she has been attacked.
In 2012 Twitter went into overdrive after she became the first African-American gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title. But rather than lauding her excellence, critics rounded on her for the state of her hair during the final.
Douglas is fed up, her mother Natalie Hawkins said.
"What was going through her head was 'I'm being attacked for everything I do so I might as well not do anything. Because no matter what I do, I am being attacked'," said Hawkins, who said her daughter was being called "Crabby Gabby."
While Hawkins said many people had told her the attacks were racially motivated, she said she wanted to "have more faith."
Her daughter too, said she was remaining upbeat about her experience at the Rio Olympics.
"I tried to stay in my own little bubble," said Douglas, who has almost a million followers on Twitter and starred in her own reality TV show.
"I'm just going to leave here with a good, positive note."