HAVING proven herself on the track at the Commonwealth Games after fighting off serious illness to claim a silver medal, Lynsey Sharp also proved she doesn’t back down easily.
She showed her champion’s credentials again on Twitter when she refused to wilt under a barrage of abuse from a fellow British athlete.
Andy Vernon, who remains in relative obscurity after he came sixth for Team England in the 5000 metres at the Games, accused city runner Sharp of bragging and even hinted that her hospital drip gave her an unfair advantage.
The online spat erupted after Sharp announced that she had promised herself a Chanel bag if she won a medal at the 800 metres in Glasgow.
But it really was a case of handbags when Vernon retorted cattily: “You won a medal??? You should mention it now and then!”
Sharp pointed out that it wasn’t her fault cross-country receives little coverage.
Unwilling to let the matter rest, Vernon added: “Self publicity isn’t quite the same and I don’t use a drip to get my medals.”
The night before her stunning performance at Hampden, Sharp had been so ill with dehydration after a sickness bout that she had needed a drip. It had been feared the 24-year-old Edinburgh-based athlete would be too ill to run, but roared on by the home crowd she claimed second place behind Kenya’s Eunice Jepkoech Sum.
Some of Sharp’s 17,400 Twitter followers leapt to her defence, claiming 28-year-old Vernon was the real drip and accusing him of sour grapes.
One tweeted that Vernon “couldn’t run a bath”, but perhaps the best quip came from the Edinburgh athlete herself.
Showing she was not just Sharp by name, she referred to him as “Andy Vermin”, adding “I had 5ml of fluid through a drip, about the same volume as one tear I just cried looking at your performances.”
As the row escalated, Twitter users expressed hope that it was “a bit of banter”, but others were in no doubt that Vernon’s comments were not intended in jest.
One said “sounds like someone is bitter that they didn’t come away with a medal”.
The English athlete – who told Sharp: “Be proud of your medal. You don’t need to tell us every day” – later apologised for his online outburst.
“I will formally apologise to @LynseySharp when I see her, but for now please accept my apologies. What started as a joke got out of hand.”
Last night Miss Sharp said of Vernon: “I know of him and I’ve probably spoken to him a couple of times. At first I thought, ‘I don’t know him well enough for him to take the p***’. And then I realised he obviously wasn’t taking the p***.
She added: “I would maybe expect this from a completely random person who, for some reason, wants attention on Twitter.
“But considering this is a British athlete, who is on a British athletics training camp just now, it just kind of surprises me.”
Both athletes are due to represent Team GB at the European Championships next week.
Sharp’s treatment online was in marked contrast to her reception at Ibrox last night when Rangers and Hibs players gave her a pre-match guard of honour.