An athlete has been deemed too hot to continue playing for Kazakhstan’s youth team—a female athlete. Eighteen-year-old Sabina Altynbekova’s a stellar player, but her coach says “It’s impossible to work like this. The crowd behaves like there is only one player at the championship.” Her teammates are annoyed too, even as she insists she’s in the game for all the right reasons. Altynbekova said, “I was flattered at first but it’s all getting a little bit much. I want to concentrate on playing volleyball and to be famous for that, not anything else.”
Altynbekova’s fans, however, won’t be dissuaded from showing their adoration. A Facebook fan page has earned 200,000 likes since the Asian Under-19 Championships in Taipei and a fan-run Twitter has almost 40,000 followers. YouTube videos edited to focus solely on Altynbekova are garnering views in the millions and the attention is even spreading off the Internet, where local newspapers are devoting multiple pages to the athlete and fans have turned her into an anime character. The only social media account she does have, Instagram, has over 50,000 followers, and Altynbekova has gone so far as to ask her fans to stop posting about her online.