Social Olympics, The Rise of The Twitter Athlete

London 2012 (#London2012), and the launch of the Social Olympics. Social Media platforms, especially Twitter, are being heralded as a new age in sports. With a vast array of ever increasing technology across sport including better timing, visuals, cameras, sports science and the always contraversial doping, the new dominant player across the events is social media. And everyone is getting in on the action. From sports fans to press and the athletes themselves the array of content that can be quickly gathered on twitter is enormous. Updates almost instant, it brings a new dynamic to the sport. Here are some great examples so far;

• Melbourne’s daily commuter newspaper mX branding North Korea and South Korea as Naughty Korea and Nice Korea, lighting up twitter and even receiving a response from the highly private North Korea. #NaughtyKorea #mX

• Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou (who since deleted her twitter account) was banned from the Olympic team after tweeting, probably without thinking, racist comments about African immigrants in Greece. “With so many Africans in Greece … at least the West Nile mosquitos will eat homemade food!!!”. Incidentally, when you search for Voula today on Google, you get every news article in the world, but on day one of the scandal, twitter and bloggers dominated the page 1 results.

Michael Phelps @MichaelPhelps The greatest Olympian in history Michael Phelps with 19 medals, 15 golds, 2 silver and 2 bronze, posting day to day action to his half million followers with honesty and humility “Not pleased with my race tonight at all… But tom is a new day! And a new race!!”

• The unashamedly fastest Man on the Planet, Usain Bolt @usainbolt “The most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen.” Brand manages himself (well it looks like this) with candid day to day updates to over 700k followers.

• The Teenage arrested for insulting an Olympian, Tom Daley on Twitter with disgraceful remarks about how he let down his late father.

• Olympic Hashtags lighting up twitter with Trends like #RejectedOlympicEvents, (our favourite is “Quidditch” and “Planking”), however we think Controversial Tweeting …maybe for #Rio2016

• American Hurdler Lolo Jones becomes a Twitter superstar prior to the games; causing a stir and surge in followers after she revealed her virginity in an interview

• Australian basketballer Elizabeth Cambage taking to Twitter to complain about ‘groupies‘, or more specifically Stephanie Rice’s friendship with US Basketball star Kobe Bryant. 

• It seems Twitter and Facebook can be blamed for losses, as well: Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm blames social media for her failure to take gold in the 100m Backstroke (Hey, silver’s not too bad!)

The Twitter Athlete is now directly connected with their fans and it is making news feel like a hash together version of tweets. News stories are becoming more and more prolific in mentioning a Twitter (or Facebook) reference, as the London 2012 games are being played on and offline.  If you are looking for the word “from the horses mouth”, search twitter while you read or watch your next news next article to see how prominently the platform plays a role in social opinion and direct communication. You may even have some advice for those who can’t quite get their “game” right.

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