Silver medalist Siobhan Haughey is at the centre of an Olympics storm after a nickname given to her by a newspaper.
The swimmer, who represents Hong Kong, finished second to Aussie Ariarne Titmus in the women’s 200m freestyle final on Wednesday, finishing ahead of American champion Katie Ledecky.
Her victory was celebrated as a massive moment for the territory – just the fifth time Hong Kong has won a medal at the Summer Olympics.
It was also the first medal Hong Kong has ever won in Olympic swimming.
One English language newspaper covering the region referred to the 23-year-old as a “mixed-race mermaid”.
It was a reference to Haughey’s background where she previously declined an option to represent Ireland at the international level.
Her father, Darach Haughey, is Irish. Her great uncle Charles Haughey was a former Irish Prime Minister.
The newspaper’s nickname has been deleted following a backlash on social media.
Other newspapers in the region also referred to Haughey as Hong Kong’s “Little Mermaid”.
Haughey spoke with elation on Wednesday as she scored the former British Colony’s second medal of the Games following an earlier gold medal in fencing on Monday.
“My achievement, coupled with Cheung Ka-long in fencing, can inspire other Hong Kong athletes who are here in Tokyo,” she said after her race,
“Those swimmers back home – continue to train hard and you will be the next.”
Haughey has continued to show red hot form in the Tokyo pool. She qualified second fastest for the women’s 100m freestyle semi-finals — behind only Aussie Emma McKeon.
She is racing for a spot in the final on Thursday.