David Owen ©ITG

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a new champion Tweeter.

Step forward Angela Ruggiero, Olympic ice hockey gold medallist, Harvard MBA and vice-chair of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission.

The 35-year-old American, who has been an IOC member since 2010 and whose birthday falls on Sunday (January 3), has attained the top step of the podium not through explosive growth in her Twitter following, which is up just 5,000, or two  per cent, since we last took soundings in December 2014, however.

Rather Ruggiero has reached the pinnacle as a consequence of the departure from the world’s most powerful sporting club of its previous Twitter champ – one Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, suspended President of FIFA, world football’s governing body.

Ruggiero, with more than a quarter-of-a-million Twitter followers, has a comfortable lead over this year’s runner-up, Gerardo Werthein of 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games host Argentina, who is the only other current IOC member with over 100,000 Twitter followers.

In third place, still, lies Mikaela Cojuangco Jaworski, the IOC member from another nation where Spanish is a major language, the Philippines, with 85,700 followers.

Cojuangco Jaworski, in turn, is well ahead of another Olympic gold medallist, Swedish high jumper Stefan Holm, in fourth place. Holm is now the IOC’s top European Tweeter with 45,400 followers.

The full Top 20 table, based on readings taken on December 29, is as follows (2014 placings in brackets):

NameCountryFollowers

1. (2)  Angela Ruggiero

United States253,000

2. (4) Gerardo Werthein  

Argentina108,000

3. (3) Mikaela Cojuangco Jaworski

Philippines

85,700

4. (6) Stefan Holm 

Sweden45,400

5. (5) Hayley Wickenheiser

Canada45,200

6. (7)  Kirsty Coventry

Zimbabwe39,300

7. (8)  Tony Estanguet

France26,900

8. (-) Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah

Kuwait

11,323 

9. (9) Camiel Eurlings

Netherlands8,216

10. (10) Sergey Bubka    

Ukraine6,659

11. (11) Sheikh Tamim

Qatar6,065

12. (14) Prince Feisal 

Jordan2,789

13. (13) Claudia Bokel   

Germany

2,756

14. (12) Alexander Zhukov

Russia2,627

15. (15)  James Tomkins            

Australia1,336

16. (17)  Marisol Casado

Spain1,214

17. (16)  Barbara Kendall                                      

New Zealand1,158

18. (18)  Danka Barteková                                      

Slovakia818

19. (-)    Nicole Hoevertsz                                     

Aruba582

20. (20)   Richard Peterkin                           

St Lucia447

There is an air of stability about the table, although most Tweeting members have managed to increase their personal followings over what has been a testing year for the international sports movement.

Prominent sporting power broker Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, President of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and FIFA Executive Committee member, has burst into the top ten with well over 10,000 followers.

I have based this on two accounts, though neither is authenticated by Twitter’s blue tick: @alahmadsabah, which has close to 4,000 followers (though not a single Tweet); and @ahmed_f_alsabah, well over 7,000 followers and in Arabic. Some Twitter users may follow both accounts and, hence, be double-counted.

The ascent to 19th place in the table of Nicole Hoevertsz, a former synchronised swimmer from Aruba, takes the number of women in the Top 20 to nine, up from eight last time.

Big changes may be ahead and Ruggiero’s reign could well prove short-lived.

Angela Ruggiero is the IOC's top tweeter
Angela Ruggiero is the IOC's top tweeter ©Getty Images

Next summer will bring an infusion of new talent onto the Athletes’ Commission, the repository already of many of the most active IOC Tweeters.

As insidethegames reported last week, nine of the 24 candidates for the four slots available already have more than 1,000 Twitter followers.

One – Indian badminton star Saina Nehwal – has well over a million followers; another – Argentinian basketball player Luís Scola – more than 400,000.

Should those two succeed in being elected IOC members, the 2016 table would have a very different look, conceivably with two Argentinians in the top five.

The new President of the troubled International Association of Athletics Federations, Sebastian Coe, would also go straight into the top ten were he to become an IOC member. He currently has 101,000 followers.

Given the ever-growing importance of social media as a communication tool, especially for the young, I have now attempted a similar Twitter ranking of 35 Olympic International Federations. Here it is:

SportFollowersAccount name
1. Football

7,860,000                      

@FIFAcom

2. Basketball

288,000                      

@FIBA

3. Rugby                                         

177,000

@WorldRugby

4. Cycling                                      

161,000        

@UCI_cycling

5. Ice hockey                                      

88,300 

@IIHFHockey

6. Athletics                                   

85,500       

@iaaforg

7. Volleyball                                    

82,500    

@FIVBVolleyball

8. Triathlon                                       

71,800

@worldtriathlon

9. Hockey                                  

59,000         

@FIH_Hockey

10. Wrestling                                       

57,100

@wrestling

11. Equestrian                                 

55,400

@Myfei_home

12. Skiing                                         

51,400 

@fisalpine

13. Badminton                                     

45,100 

@bwfmedia

14. Aquatics                       

33,400  

@fina1908

15.  Judo                      

31,800

@IntJudoFed

16.  Rowing                                           

26,800 

@WorldRowing

17.  Gymnastics                                            

25,900  

@gymnastics

18.  Archery                                     

22,900

@worldarchery

19.  Sailing                                            

21,600

@worldsailing

20.  Table tennis                                   

17,000 

@ittfworld

- Taekwondo                                                       

17,000

 @WorldTaekwondo1

22.  Biathlon                                         

16,900

@biathlonworld

23. Curling                                        

14,200

@worldcurling

24. Tennis                                         

13,700 

@ITF_Tennis

25. Skating                                      

13,300  

 @ISU_Figure

26.  Boxing                                      

10,900   

@AIBA_Boxing

27. Shooting                                         

10,200

@ISSF_Shooting

28. Handball                                     

9,382 

@ihf_info

29. Canoeing                                     

7,575 

@PlanetCanoe

30. Weightlifting                                

6,980 

@iwfnet

31. Fencing                                        

6,822  

@FIE_fencing

32.  Golf                                            

4,467

@OlympicGolf

33. Modern Pentathlon                           

3,118

@TheUIPM

34.  Bobsleigh/skeleton                     

2,565

@IBSFsliding

35. Luge                                                

680

@FIL_Luge                             

I have aimed to locate each International Federation's English language Twitter account. However, since a number of International Federations have multiple accounts, it is possible I may have been guilty in places of not comparing like with like. For that reason, I have given the account names in the right-hand column. I limited the exercise to one account per IF because of the likelihood of duplification.

To give some idea of the judgement calls I had to make, I noticed a tendancy among Winter Olympic International Federations to have different accounts for different disciplines.

As well as the alpine skiing account I included, the International Ski Federation (seemed to have a ski-jumping account with over 12,000 followers and a Nordic combined account with nearly 3,000. Skating, similarly, had a speed skating account, with some 1,250 followers, in addition to figure skating.

 In the case of golf, I selected the account devoted to golf at the Olympics, in particular Rio 2016 where the sport will make its Olympic return, rather than the official International Golf Federation account, which had fewer than 600 followers.

With more flux likely in the Olympic sports programme in years to come – and an imperative for the Movement to keep young people interested in sport in the digital age - it will be interesting to observe how these rankings evolve.

This time around, the sports of rugby, ice hockey, field hockey and wrestling were higher than I would have predicted; by contrast, aquatics, tennis, fencing and golf were lower.