Over 11,000 athletes have spent much of their lives preparing for the Rio 2016 Olympics, which begin with tonight’s opening ceremony. Somehow, between training, competing, eating and sleeping, many of them have managed to build social media presences that reflect their sportsmanship and their personalities. Below are a few to watch as the games kick off.
Ms. Pappas, 26, will be competing in the 10,000-meter race for Greece, but she isn’t just a track-and-field champion; she’s also a poet, comedian, playwright and filmmaker. Her Twitter feed bridges all of those worlds, with videos that share her greatest race-day fears, photos of her iconic bun hairdo and tweets written in verse that are reflective and often funny.
The 19-year-old American gymnast is poised to sweep the gymnastics competition this year, and training hasn’t gotten in the way of her Twitter game. Her tweets show that even the defending world champion in the all-around can find herself star-struck in the presence of a fellow Olympian. Look for her on Instagram too, where she is sure to post photos of her sparkly leotards.
The Brazilian soccer player’s Twitter and Instagram accounts are rife with selfies that provide a humanizing contrast to the action shots and advertisements in which star athletes so often appear.
There’s no denying Ms. Williams’s prowess on the court. But as the poet Claudia Rankine wrote in The New York Times Magazine last year, “The notable difference between black excellence and white excellence is white excellence is achieved without having to battle racism.” Ms. Williams’s Instagram — a collection of images that showcase beauty, strength and self-love — is a testament to the challenges she has overcome.
Mr. Bolt, 29, the world’s fastest known runner, is in Rio for what he says will be his last Olympics. He has pledged to outrun his most impressive times for Jamaica, and Justin Gatlin, of the United States team, may be just the motivation he needs.
Ms. Morgan, a forward for the United States women’s soccer team, is a gold medalist — not so relatable. But the 27-year-old’s tweets about the mundanity of air travel, the emoji she thinks should exist and the highs and lows of binge watching could be any of ours.
At 31, the British cyclist won his third Tour de France this summer. But judging by tweets, his most important race is getting home and seeing his son. Who doesn’t love a Twitter dad?
The 23-year-old Chinese swimmer has drawn many an internet crush. Maybe his fledgling Instagram account will catch up with the hype.