David Owen ©ITG

It is all change this year in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Twitter charts, with a new champion and a total of six newcomers in the annual Top 20.

All told, 2016 may go down as the year that the succinct social media platform finally came of age in IOC circles: the number of followers required for a Top 20 place was multiplied not far off four-fold; the tally needed to break into the Top Ten was more than five times the corresponding 2015 total. 

Both phenomena - the amount of change and the growth in follower numbers - are explained in large measure by the bumper crop of 13 new IOC members in 2016, and the relatively active social media lives which some of them lead.

All six newcomers to the chart - the highest of whom, Colombia’s Luís Alberto Moreno, enters at four - are new IOC members.

Moreno’s arrival puts a second South American into the top five, coinciding with the IOC’s own South American years, comprising Rio 2016, the Lima 2017 IOC Session and the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympics.

One thing that has not changed is the high proportion of women in the Top 20, namely nine, the same as last year.

The listing also remains exceptionally diverse, with 20 different countries represented.

Gerardo Werthein tops the IOC Twitter list ©Getty Images
Gerardo Werthein tops the IOC Twitter list ©Getty Images

France’s Tony Estanguet has taken over from Stefan Holm of Sweden as the top European Tweeter among IOC members.

Estanguet, a triple Olympic canoeing gold medallist, is of course in the process of trying to convince fellow IOC members to award the Summer Games to Paris in 2024.

One of Paris’s rivals, alongside Budapest, is the US city of Los Angeles, whose team of supporters includes last year’s IOC Queen of Twitter, Angela Ruggiero, the former ice hockey player and recently-installed chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. 

After a relatively slow-growing Twitter year, however, during which she added just 5,000 new followers, Ruggiero has been overtaken at the head of the pack by the 2015 runner-up, Gerardo Werthein of Argentina.

The 61-year-old Werthein, an IOC member since 2011, more than doubled his follower base in 2016 to more than 270,000.

Werthein, a businessman, is overseeing preparations for Buenos Aires’s coming moment in the Olympic spotlight, in his capacity as President of the 2018 Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee.

There are few surprises in his timeline, which consists mainly of messages relating to Argentinian and Olympic sport.

If you go back to November 9, however, you encounter a rather interesting political Tweet: “Vamos @HillaryClinton !!!!!!”.

Other newcomers to the IOC and to this Top 20 include Russian ex-pole vaulter Yelena Isinbaeva.

The double Olympic champion can expect to be at the forefront of her country’s efforts to restore its sporting reputation after the doping revelations and allegations of recent times.

Angela Ruggiero has dropped to second position ©Getty Images
Angela Ruggiero has dropped to second position ©Getty Images

She is not, though, the most industrious Tweeter, with fewer than 300 Tweets on the timeline of an account opened seven-and-a-half years ago.

Sarah Walker, the New Zealand BMX rider, is the third-highest new entry.

One of the few Olympic medallists to have designed and built houses, Walker may, by the look of it, give Saint Lucia’s Richard Peterkin a run for his money as the IOC’s pre-eminent Twitter humorist.

"What’s the best Christmas Present in the World?" asked one topical recent Tweet on her timeline.

"A broken drum," was her answer, on the grounds that "you just can’t beat it!"

Also new to the list are Sari Essayah, a member of the Finnish Parliament, Britta Heidemann, the latest German fencer to become an IOC member, and Anant Singh, a South African film producer.

The full Top 20 table, based on readings taken on December 16, is as follows (2015 placings in brackets):

Name
Country
Followers
1. (2) Gerardo Werthein
Argentina
277,000
2. (1) Angela Ruggiero
United States
258,000
3. (11) Sheikh Tamim
Qatar
233,000
4. (-) Luís Alberto Moreno
Colombia
110,000
5. (3) Mikaela Cojuangco Jaworski
Philippines
86,600
6. (7) Tony Estanguet
France
51,300
7. (6) Kirsty Coventry
Zimbabwe
50,200
8. (4) Stefan Holm
Sweden
49,800
9. (5) Hayley Wickenheiser
Canada
48,500
10. (-) Yelena Isinbaeva
Russia
34,300
11. (8) Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah
Kuwait
16,900
12. (-) Sarah Walker
New Zealand
9,633
13. (10) Sergey Bubka
Ukraine
8,399
14. (9) Camiel Eurlings
Netherlands
8,217
15. (-) Sari Essayah
Finland
4,182
16. (12) Prince Feisal
Jordan
4,150
17. (-) Britta Heidemann
Germany
2,813
18. (-) Anant Singh
South Africa
1,568
19. (15) James Tomkins
Australia
1,536
20. (16) Marisol Casado
Spain
1,534


As touched on in a related news story, I have also updated last year’s ranking of 35 Olympic International Federations.

With a huge difference in follower numbers between the big team sports at the top of the table and those lower down, year-on-year positions are comparatively stable.

Importantly for the Movement at the end of a Summer Olympic year, every single federation had comfortably more followers in mid-December 2016 than a year earlier.

The full updated table is as follows:

Sport
Followers
Account name
1. (1) Football
9,540,000
@FIFAcom
2. (2) Basketball
330,000
@FIBA
3. (3) Rugby
274,000
@WorldRugby
4. (4) Cycling
196,000
@UCI_cycling
5. (6) Athletics
120,000
@iaaforg
6. (7) Volleyball
107,000
@FIVBVolleyball
7. (5) Ice hockey
105,000
@IIHFHockey
8. (8) Triathlon
85,400
@worldtriathlon
9. (11) Equestrian
80,100
@FEI_Global
10=. (10) Wrestling
78,700
@wrestling
10=. (9) Hockey
78,700
@FIH_Hockey
12. (12) Skiing
60,800
@fisalpine
13. (13) Badminton  
56,400
@bwfmedia
14. (18) Archery
42,900  
@worldarchery
15.  (14) Aquatics
41,800
@fina1908
16. (17) Gymnastics
41,300
@gymnastics
17. (15) Judo
41,200
@ IntJudoFed
18. (23) Curling
36,900
@worldcurling
19. (16) Rowing
35,500
@WorldRowing
20. (20) Table tennis
32,900
@ittfworld
21. (19) Sailing
26,900
@worldsailing
22. (29) Canoeing
26,800
@PlanetCanoe
23. (25) Skating
25,000
@ISU_Figure
24. (21) Taekwondo
24,200
@WorldTaekwondo1
25. (22) Biathlon  
20,900
@biathlonworld
26. (24) Tennis  
19,800
@ ITF_Tennis
27. (32) Golf
17,200
@ OlympicGolf
28. (26) Boxing
16,000
@AIBA_Boxing
29. (27) Shooting
14,200
@ISSF_Shooting
30. (28) Handball
13,400
@ihf_info
31. (31) Fencing  
10,900
@FIE_fencing
32. (30) Weightlifting
10,200
@iwfnet
33. (33) Modern Pentathlon
3,523
@TheUIPM
34. (34) Bobsleigh/skeleton
3,017
@IBSFsliding
35. (35) Luge  
1,008
@FIL_Luge