Twitter Olympics: Beware the distractions

Jul 20, 2012 by GERALD IMRAY
A swimmer trains at the Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park in London, Friday, July 20, 2012. Opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympics will be held Friday, July 27. ((AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

(AP) — Hello (at)Twitter world!!! I'm at (hash)Olympics. Shd be training not tweeting ... LOL

Laugh if you like, but there was a bit of a buzz Friday about athletes risking their medal chances with every "tweet" and "like" on and Facebook.

"I have found quite a close correlation between the number of tweets at competitive times and the level of under-performance," said Sebastian Coe, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1,500 meters and the head organizer of what is being dubbed the " Games."

"From a personal perspective, when I was an athlete I just wanted complete and total focus," he said. "I knew it was my time and that they don't come around that often. If I was focusing on trying to defend a title I wouldn't be reading Twitter, I wouldn't be interested in it. Why would I?"

British tennis star Andy Murray echoed those sentiments.

"You don't want to be on it (Twitter) too much," Murray said Friday. "It's a bit like sitting on a computer 20 minutes, 30 minutes before your match. You wouldn't be advised to do that. The same applies with tweeting or mobile phones, I would have thought."

While agreeing that social media is popular and fun, "Can't talk. (hash)training" may be the most apt tweet or status update, especially at the games. And it's far less than 140 characters.

"It's good to keep in contact with your family and friends," Australian shooter Alethea Sedgman said. "But sport-wise, it's better to focus without Facebook."

The Australian cycling team doesn't use social media during competition time. No RTs for them, maybe just some RTTs (remember to train).

"Cycling have taken their own initiative and other sports are looking at ways of doing that," Australian team chef de mission Nick Green said.

There's no doubt that over the next month Twitter and Facebook will probably get you closer than ever to Olympic athletes.

At the London Games, their tweeting will tell you more than you need — or maybe want — to know about their lifestyles and everyday habits.

For instance, Michael Phelps doesn't like the new U.S. swim team caps. Usain Bolt is hungry for chicken. American hurdler Lolo Jones is a virgin.

It's a window to what they think, what they eat, what they listen to and watch. Basically, how they live.

Jones, by the way, says she's waiting for the right man. TMI?

"There is no doubt that social media has been and can be a distraction," said Green, the Australian chef de mission. "I've also said it can be used in a very positive way and the athletes are working out where those boundaries are."

Social media is OK, tennis player Elena Baltacha said, "so long as you're sensible and you're not tweeting as you walk onto court."

Maybe the craze is even wearing off for some sports stars.

"I actually haven't done it (tweet) for a couple of months," said Murray, who didn't even tweet about reaching the Wimbledon final a few weeks ago.

Many Olympic teams now have guidelines on how athletes can use Twitter and Facebook and other online platforms, setting boundaries for controversial posts. It's especially relevant this year, with social media clearly being embraced by the International Olympic Committee.

The British Olympic Association, which watches over 542 athletes — the biggest team at the games — has compiled a list of "Dos" and "Don'ts."

In addition to warnings about swearing and unsuitable posts, the BOA notes that tweeting also could give the opposition a boost.

"DON'T ... Forget your rivals may be reading," the BOA says. "Other competitors may gain confidence if they read any comments you make about poor form in training, feeling tired, upset or low on confidence."

And there's one more reason for athletes to beware social media: It doesn't actually make you very sociable.

"There's so many things to see and do here," Sedgman said. "There's better things to do than sit on your butt and play on Facebook, as much fun as that is."


Explore further: Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia's Twitter warning to athletes

Feb 28, 2012

Australian athletes have been warned against using Twitter during competition after officials found competitors tweeting during last week's Olympic diving test event in London.

Facebook launches page for all things Olympics

Jun 18, 2012

(AP) — Facebook on Monday launched an official London Olympics page for fans to connect with their favorite athletes and teams, a move it says can help make this summer's games the first "truly social" one.

Twitter sees new record during Euro 2012 final

Jul 02, 2012

(AP) — Twitter says its users fired off more than 15,000 tweets per second when Spain scored its fourth goal in Sunday's European Championship final, setting a sports-related record on the social networking ...

Recommended for you

Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

4 hours ago

Social networking company Twitter on Wednesday rejected demands from the Turkish government to open an office there, following accusations of tax evasion and a two-week ban on the service.

How does false information spread online?

7 hours ago

Last summer the World Economic Forum (WEF) invited its 1,500 council members to identify top trends facing the world, including what should be done about them. The WEF consists of 80 councils covering a wide range of issues including social media. Members come ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 21, 2012
Really, why would you bother with Twitter in the first place.

More news stories

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

( —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects—specifically, ...

Unlocking secrets of new solar material

( —A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

( —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops

Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research from UC Davis is exploring ...