The 19-year-old Zhu came under heavy criticism on Chinese social media after falling in the short program earlier in the competition, and in Monday’s event, she fell twice as she placed fifth for her routine with 91.41 points.
Amid the abuse she received after the short program, social media users questioned why Zhu was chosen to represent China at the Winter Olympics over an athlete born in the country.
“I am relieved because [there is] a lot of pressure and people are expecting a lot,” Zhu told reporters after the free skate event. “But right now, I’m just going to move on and focus on my individual events.”
She added: “Honestly, I’ve trained really hard and I think the main thing is coping mentally. I’m trying not to get distracted by outside influence.”
The Russian Olympic Committee’s Kamila Valieva placed first in the free skate, wrapping up the gold medal for her team.
After the short program in the team competition on Sunday, Zhu – who is competing at her first Olympics – said she was “upset and a little embarrassed” by her performance, adding: “I guess I felt a lot of pressure because I know everybody in China was pretty surprised with the selection for ladies’ singles and I just really wanted to show them what I was able to do.”
Chinese athletes have come under intense public scrutiny during these Games, with medal counts hailed as a symbol of national strength by the Chinese government.
In particular, much of the spotlight has fallen on US-born athletes who are representing China at Beijing 2022.
In contrast to the treatment Zhu has received on social media, freestyle skier Eileen Gu – who was also born in California and is a year younger than Zhu – has charmed the Chinese public with her fluent Mandarin and familiarity with Chinese culture.
In the process, Gu has become the unofficial face of Beijing 2022 and is tipped to win at least one gold medal for China.
Born in Los Angeles to a Chinese immigrant family, Zhu chose to compete for China in 2018 and gave up her American citizenship, as well as changing her name from Beverly Zhu to Zhu Yi.
But she has also faced criticism in China for not being able to speak fluent Chinese.
China, which has won two gold and two silver medals so far at the Olympics, finished fifth in figure skating’s team event.
Zhu will now prepare to compete in the singles competition, which begins on February 15.