Darko Grncarov: the phony tennis player?

The story of the Macedonian who was in a coma and returned to play, was highlighted by world tennis figures, but was found to be false

Darko Grncarov: the phony tennis player?

There have been several stories of achievement in sports that have made the world stand such tenacity and rebut the story to give a message of faith and humanity struggle.

However, there are times when these stories turn out to be nothing more than lies. Precisely, that is the case of Darko Grncarov, a Macedonian player whose life story went around the world. The fact was highlighted by great personalities of tennis, and at the end, it was proved to be a monumental lie discovered by a journalist.

Sublime story

Darko Grncarov, Macedonian tennis player whose love for this sport is huge, received his first racket at 5 years as a gift from his uncle. Since then, Grncarov devoted his life to the white sport. His talent was impressive, so he was able to participate in different tennis tournaments in diverse countries.

Grncarov's career was on the rise until he was 18 years when he had to face the great tragedy of his life: he suffered a stroke in December 2016 that left him six months in coma. When he finally awoke from the coma, he entered another nightmare, because doctors told him he had to start a recovery process during nine years.

The annoyance Grncarov experienced was immense, but his desire to return to tennis was even larger. For this reason, the athlete returned to the playing fields in secret just after he was able to walk again. Grncarov lost hearing in his right ear; however, his great sportsmanship and willingness to overcome his problem prepared him to return a 100 percent ready to contest 2018 tennis season.

Viralization of the touching story

In the summer of 2017, the story was reproduced by several Macedonians means of communication, which try to investigate the whole story but found quite difficult to find information, so they desisted to pursue further research. At this point the story was reproduced by the machinery of social networks. Twitter was specifically where the story regained life. Tens of this social network accounts replicated the story in a colossal form, tagging great athletes.

This viralization in late 2017 made tennis personalities like Serena Williams and Martina Navratilova to highlight Darko Grncarov, and they positioned him as global model example. The boom made the news was issued in several international media such as BBC, giving it a huge significance. Adidas posted a tweet welcoming Grncarov to the company. In fact, it was rumored that the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) would have given him wild cards or invitation cards to participate in different competitions. Darko Grncarov had become a global figure.

How was the fraud uncovered?

The touching story of personal achievement was inspiring, but it lacked bases and reliable sources, a setback for journalism. That is why Ben Rothenberg, specialist journalist in tennis, who eventually writes for The New York Times, began to thoroughly investigate this story that for the journalist was quite suspicious.

Rothenberg displayed his journalistic agility and found that the whole story was nothing more than a gigantic hoax: Darko Grncarov had never participated in tournaments that claimed to have played, the videos on his social networks were not his but they belonged to the Spanish Cameron Henricy . The tennis player had ever been sparring Serbian Viktor Troicki, who when asked about Grncarov laughed and said he had never known Grncarov. The reporter also found that in a Macedonian web the data from a junior tournament in Amsterdam, where Grncarov participated, had competitors who do not even exist.

Rothenberg contacted Grncarov, who agreed to answer questions only by direct messages on Twitter. The journalist asked the player about specific dates, because in July 2017 Grncarov claimed to have been in a coma for six months, but during these dates he was enrolled in the ITF Egypt. The player watching these questions immediately left the interview on Twitter, closed his account on this social network, and also dropped out on Facebook and Instagram. Rothenberg published all his research on the web portal Slate.com, which tunred around the world in a few hours. Grncarov, the pretender tennis, disappeared from all sports and cybernetic panorama.

Another fraud in the sports world has been unmasked, Grncarov has made a mockery of world tennis, but a journalist exercising fully his work managed to stop the fraud. It is just another absurd case precedent, which invites not only to journalists to perform correctly their job but also to anyone not to believe everything that is on the web, not to be impressed easily, and thoroughly investigate to find the truth.


Latin American Post | Javier Aldana
Translated from “Darko Grncarov: ¿el tenista farsante?”

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