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The Internet has a creepy crush on a teen volleyball player

When getting a real girlfriend is out of the question.


Miles Klee


Posted on Jul 31, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 8:50 pm CDT

Quick hypothetical: Let’s say you’re an 18-year-old volleyball player for a Kazakhstan youth squad that competes internationally—how would you feel about becoming an object of unrequited lust from hundreds of thousands of strangers around the world? Not great, I bet.

This is the plight of Sabina Altynbekova, who became an Internet celebrity overnight when the Taiwanese media ran photos of her competing in the Asian Junior Volleyball Championship.

The newfound attention has taken many forms, most of them discomfiting. There have been at least two fake Twitter accounts, many pieces of fan art, and countless marriage proposals. The vast majority, of course, are directed at people pretending to be Altynbekova, not the athlete.

We Are Sabina Lovers We Love You We will not forget Sabina Will Remain In Our Hearts @altynbekova11 @altynbekova_20

— DoT CpM Dxd (@DotCPmDXd1) July 28, 2014

She tall,sports and muslim,haa im fall in love with you hahaha. Sabina Altynbekova 😍??😂😄 #kazakhstan #volleyball

— Hafiz De Vrij (@HafizThor) July 30, 2014

Good night @altynbekova_20 from indonesia #LoveSabinaltynbekova reply please..

— MR.sept (@septianwhatever) July 30, 2014

@altynbekova_20 hello sabina? Will you marry me?

— SMAN 3 BASKETBALL (@bastig_surabaya) July 30, 2014

In love with you sabina @altynbekova_20

— AbrorPunk_Outsiders (@Abror_offspring) July 30, 2014

@altynbekova_20 #LoveSabinaltynbekova :)

— Dadan D. Nugraha (@D_minorrr) July 26, 2014


— Aldo Irwan (@AldoIrwan7) July 26, 2014

@altynbekova_20 you like it? Please follow me. COYS (Come On Your Sabina) :D #LoveSabinaltynbekova

— Ari Ilham Ramadhan (@aritobi) July 26, 2014

hy @altynbekova_20.. :D I have finished drawing yourself, :D sorry, if I draw it bad #LoveSabinaltynbekova

— Wira Prayoga (@wirra_prayoga17) July 26, 2014

Altynbekova updated her Instagram page to clarify that she’s only active there and on Vkontakte (or VK), the Russian equivalent to Facebook, with any other accounts being phony. And while she considers the fixation on her “a bit much,” saying she’d like to concentrate on her sport, she’s mostly taking it in stride, even posting some of the illustrations she’s inspired.

Nurlan Sadikov, who coached Altynbekova in Taipei, told Tengrin News that the adulation annoyed him: ‘It is impossible to work like this,” he said. “The crowd behaves like there is only one player at the championship.” The good news for him is that these fandoms tend to dissolve as quickly as they form—we haven’t heard much about Natalia Poklonskaya lately.

For all the media coverage, however, virtually no reporter has mentioned that Altynbekova’s team was eliminated from the tournament in the quarterfinals. We’ll be happy if and when the Internet can one day congratulate her on something more than a pretty face and enviable figure.

H/T Daily Mail | Photo via altynbekova_20/Instagram

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*First Published: Jul 31, 2014, 9:00 am CDT