I have been obsessed with the Olympics ever since I was a kid. I can still remember saving the Sports Illustrated Olympic editions, cutting out newspaper clippings about my favorite athletes and recording on VHS all the events -- from the lighting of the torch to the awarding of the last medal -- and everything in between. It was, given the times, my way of feeling connected to the athletes, celebrating the spirit of the games and adding dimension to a global event in a far off place.
As an adult I remain engrossed with the pomp and pageantry, the gold medals and global citizenry, but what I and so many others continue to enjoy are the myriad personal stories of the athletes. Individual tales abound -- some heartwarming, some heartbreaking -- and social media now affords us a more intimate view into the life and times of world-class athletes, dream makers and record breakers.
Contributing to this closeness, like many celebrities and entertainment figures, is the active participation of the athletes themselves. Many use their success on the field, track, beam, court and more to create their own, personal brands and turn to social to do so. So as the world descends on Rio, I’ve compiled a list of athletes worth watching on social -- and identified some lessons entrepreneurial brands can take away.
Not purely a list of well-known stars (though a few were a must), this diverse group of athletes embody what social is about–interesting stories, authentic conversations and engaging personalities. Some profiles give a glimpse into the grueling training efforts, while others show that even people at peak physical performance need to eat a cupcake every once in awhile.