Tokyo Olympics’ Top Athletes Win Gold in Online Love

The Tokyo Olympics are over, but the athletes left an indelible mark on the hearts of viewers worldwide. We’ll explore the top ten mentioned during these games, and some ways that brands could connect with athlete influencers and their wildly engaged audiences going forward!

Our Top 10 Tokyo 2020 Olympics Athletes span a range of sports and geographies, and all won major love from audiences for an equally wide variety of reasons!

Olympics week3

And for the most part, those watching or just following along for the highlights loved these contenders one and all, with very few exceptions, as we can see from the key terms and emotions people shared online:


Let’s dive into our list and see why each resonated to deeply with everyday, non-Olympian people – and what brands can take away from it all!

1. Simone Biles

Simone is the gymnast who was brave enough to say “enough” and not compete at the expense of her own physical and mental health during the first week of the event. Her sponsors were incredibly supportive as well, which was more than could be said for a wide swath of Americans, unfortunately! And then Biles came back strong in week two and ultimately medaled. The lesson here is that kindness wins online, and more brands need to be aware of that.

2. Neeraj Chopra

India hadn’t won a medal in the track and field portion of this event since the 1900s, so capturing gold for the javelin was a huge moment for Neeraj and his country. To top it off, he’s also an underdog, as he wasn’t even in the world’s top ten when he came into this competition. Brands can always do well to partner with the underdog – in any category. It’s all about finding the right one and supporting his/her journey.

Chopra track and field medal

3. Hidilyn Diaz

Hidilyn won the hearts of every Filipino when she became the first ever to win Olympic gold for the Phillipines. And it doesn’t hurt that she also smashed gender stereotypes by doing so as a weightlifter!

4. Ravi Kumar Dahiya

Ravi is an example of the extreme drive and determination – and pressure – athletes subject themselves to reach this elite status. He won silver for wrestling and wasn’t happy with it, vowing to come back stronger and win gold in Paris in 2024. This is a journey that brands who align with this mindset should be all over as the next event approaches. Perseverance to an extreme? Check! Time to mark those calendars!

5. Tom Daley

Tom led the charge with the strong LGBTQ representation we saw this year at the Olympics. And not only that, but he offered an “in” for brands everywhere when he showed off his knitting skills – to the delight of absolutely everyone. Oh, and he won gold and bronze for the UK in diving in the midst of the hubbub. DIY brands and just anything crafty or creative should be following this Olympian for the pulse of an absolutely humungous and exceptionally engaged audience. He IS authenticity. People love him.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Tom Daley (@madewithlovebytomdaley)

6. Carlo Paalam

Carlo is another over-achiever, though this can be said about all of these athletes, really. Winning silver in boxing, this Filipino athlete is going for gold the next time around. He’s a rags-to-riches hopeful, and a scrappy contender that brands will want to watch closely, as everyone loves seeing the underdog come back and win!

7. Lee Zii Jia

Lee joins our top ten mentioned athletes list from a bit of a different perspective. Playing badminton for Malaysia, Lee lost to his Chinese opponent – and overwhelmingly, everyone posting about him from his home country is incredibly proud of his effort. This just shows that there could be cultural differences to monitor before pushing a particular narrative. Or it might even depend on the sport. So, whereas a “better luck next time” approach would go over well with Ravi’s wrestling crowd, it would be a huge failure here – and one that could negatively impact a brand’s perception.


8. Allyson Felix

Allyson has won an incredible 11 Olympic gold medals for the U.S. – and might be a real-life superhero. She is now “the most decorated American Olympian in track and field, surpassing the 10 medals won by Carl Lewis.” If there was ever a woman who belonged on any brand’s “you can do it” circuit, here she is. And she speaks to the hearts of moms everywhere, with an adorable two-year-old who tuned in to watch her mom win.


9. Aaron Chia

Aaron earned the bronze in badminton for Malaysia, and his road to this moment has been a long one. According to his Dad, Aaron has been working for this since the tender age of four, when he would follow his father to the badminton court. And, much like the response received by his fellow badminton player, Lee Zii Jia, the people of Malaysia are super supportive and proud. Again, this lends weight to the importance of having a solid cultural understanding of a specific customer base, as messaging will need to jibe with their unique needs and values:


10. Elaine Thompson-Herah

And finally, Elaine won gold as a sprinter for Jamaica, but even that didn’t entitle her to share footage of the event on Instagram! She was quite notably blocked from the platform for doing so and earned lots of mentions for it. Not nearly as many as her talented win, but enough to grab the attention of Instagram and get her account turned back on within hours (instead of days).

The takeaway here, as we mentioned previously, is the importance of keeping tabs on what your influencers are sharing, because a TOS or copyright violation can shut your campaign down in a heartbeat. And you likely won’t have a gold medalist handy to tweet about it!

Make Consumer Insight Work for You

Did your brand get in on the Olympics action this time around and make consumer insight work for you? If not, it’s good to consider some options for participating ahead of the Paris Olympics in 2024. It’s an event that’s sure to have lots of viral moments, just as this one did and every Olympics before it. Having your consumer insight on point will ensure you’re ready to take advantage of your own gold medal opportunities and potentially propel your brand into online mention stardom as well!

Reach out for a demo and we’ll show you how to begin your brand training and make every quarter better than the next from an awareness perspective!

2021 brand loyalty report

Premier social media analytics platform

Expand your social platform with LexisNexis news media

Power of social analytics for your entire team

Media analytics and market intelligence platform

Enrich your media analytics with social data

Media coverage for historical & real-time monitoring

Data streams & custom KPIs for advanced data science

AI, Image Analytics, Reporting Tools & more

Out-of-the-box integration with other data sources