Well, that’s that until 2024. The games have finally come to a close, and as we’re hanging up our skates (or leotards… you do you), we are looking back and celebrating the winners, both IRL and online. This year has produced some crazy content for socials, so it’s no wonder we’re seeing some of our sporting stars cross-screens for the first time. To jog your memory, here’s ten of the athletes that gained the most online traction this term.
IG: 3.3 Million
Engagement Rate: 18.91%
TikTok: 1.2 Million
We couldn’t not. Our golden boy Tom is forever amazing us, what with bagging gold on his synchronised 10m, bronze on his individual, and a toy penguin’s scarf that he knitted on his rest break. No, really. We’re sure you’ve seen the video by now; if not, you’re one of the few who haven’t because the clip went mega viral. Tom was caught knitting up a storm whilst watching the games, and even took to TikTok to show off his new home-made Tokyo cardigan, which secured him over 17M views and nearly 4M likes in four days. In fact, a Sky Mobile study revealed that of all 376 athletes that travelled to Tokyo, Tom was the most talked about… ‘atta boy.
Engagement Rate: 25.15%
22-year-old Filipina street skateboarder Margielyn rode a massive wave on socials due to the unprecedented nature of her event. Skateboarding was actually illegal in the Philippines, and Margielyn’s dedication to the sport drove intent to build a skatepark in her hometown, Cebu City, after she won gold at the 2018 ASEAN Games. Margielyn’s taking this new-found fame all in her stride, as evidenced by her multiple TikToks recreating popular dance trends, that tend to rack up over 1M each time from her 1.6M followers. Unfortunately, Cebu’s skatepark has since been delayed, but here’s hoping that Margielyn’s new social following will ramp up the pressure on local officials.
Engagement Rate: 14.48%
Don’t let her age fool you, at 13-years-old, Sky is a force to be reckoned with. She currently stands as the youngest professional skateboarder in the world and she has just become Team GB’s youngest ever medallist. Yep, that shut us up too. She’s even raking it on socials with over 2.5M followers on TikTok and Insta combined. Her posts include videos of her family, friends, and doing whatever it takes to entertain herself in Tokyo’s Olympic village, and we can’t get enough.
Engagement Rate: 14.67%
Here’s another little (13-year-old) gem who’s taken to socials like a duck to water, or a skateboarder to concrete… you get the idea. Street skateboarder Rayssa has won the hearts of millions with her dedication, positivity, and of course, outrageously catchy TikTok dances. If that wasn’t cute enough, after becoming Brazil’s youngest Olympic medallist, a lawyer took it upon herself to trademark Rayssa’s nickname, “Little Fairy’ for her, to protect against potential business clashes. Just goes to show that there are good Samaritans out there, and we’re so glad Rayssa’s got this one in her corner.
Engagement Rate: 24.08%
Japanese tennis star Naomi has been in the news a lot recently, not just for her craft, but for her advocation for mental health on a global platform. She’s had eyes on her for ages, but especially since having boycotted her post-match media duties at The French Open, where she stated they negatively impacted her mental health and distracted from the purpose of the event. She then pulled out of the tournament altogether and swerved Wimbledon in June. Luckily, we were graced with her prowess this year in Tokyo as she was chosen to light the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony. Despite setbacks that saw her drop out in the third round, Naomi is so much more than a tennis player; she’s since been on the cover of Vogue discussing the importance of reaching out to those around you, making her an absolute icon in all lanes.
Engagement Rate: 17.11%
Another hero of her time, Simone pushed back to reclaim her own mental health from the stress of constant training and online trolling. The USA four-time gold medallist Simone skipped the opening event and the team competition in defence of her own mental well-being, and she was largely met with support and admiration for her honesty and bravery in doing so. Simone even claims the top eight Insta posts among all American athletes… peep her first post after the news broke, it raked in over 2.2M likes and nearly 500K comments! She’s still yet to fully dive into the TikTok world, but if/once she does, it’s over for the rest of us…
Engagement Rate: 8.72%
When you talk about getting a job done, and getting it done right, you’re likely talking about Max Whitlock. As a six-time Olympic medallist, he is GB’s golden ticket, and by being the first person in more than thirty years to retain a pommel horse title at the games, he’s become the most successful pommel horse worker in gymnastics history. His reign doesn’t stop there though, he’s currently taken the crown for cutest Insta vid as his daughter was filmed surprising him at the airport after his return to London. Could they be anymore adorable? (No, they couldn’t).
Engagement Rate: 21.30%
She is indeed, a runner and a track star (and a badass one at that). As the most decorated track and field athlete in US history, Allyson has raced to the top of so many people’s agendas. Vogue cover? Check. Lifestyle brand? Check. Spokesperson for the trials of motherhood and the discriminatory dangers against black women? CHECK. Allyson’s shown how to work the different faces of social, and how to use this to promote something you’re truly passionate about, all whilst bossing it in your chosen profession.
Engagement Rate: 8.43%
The two-time 100m breaststroke gold medal winner has a special place in our hearts and in the history books as he brought home Team GB’s first gold of the games. Having broken the world record himself five times over, Adam is an absolute machine. On land though, he’s still one of us; Adam slipped up and dropped the f-bomb twice on live TV…but can you blame him? Since his performance, Adam has taken to socials to announce he wants to take a step back and refocus his mental health before a busy year ahead, and we get it. If anyone deserves some R&R, it’s this man.
Engagement Rate: 28.25%
A break-through act both on and off the field; Ilona is Team US’s rugby superstar, and she’s everyone’s TikTok queen. As you can tell, there’s a lot of competition in Olympic TikTok this year, but Ilona might just edge it with her classics such as testing the cardboard Olympic beds, and trying to find a tall foreign demigod Olympian in the village… maybe next time, hey? It’s an amazing start for this first-time competitor.
Judging by rates of engagement, people are living for this new-age of personal interaction with their fav sports stars
So, there we have it. Ten of this year’s most influential Olympic athletes on social. Judging by rates of engagement, people are living for this new-age of personal interaction with their fav sports stars, and we don’t blame them! Seeing these celebs behind the scenes and getting a real feel of their personality boosts their authenticity, which creates new potential for brand partnerships and alliances in the future, even out of Olympic term time. If you’re curious how to amp up your own brand’s authenticity online, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org..