Tokyo Olympics: TikTok making Tokyo 2020 the social Video games
Black Ferns Sevens star Gayle Broughton sits in front of a camera lip-synching Drake’s Know Yourself and stares at the gold medal in her hand. Then teammates Stacey Fluhler and Tyla Nathan-Wong kick the shot with their medals around their necks.
The short clip is not an advertisement and was not recorded by the numerous television crews and reporters at the Tokyo Olympics. It was a TikTok video that had been viewed 1.8 million times so far.
Social media carries a lot of weight these days. Athletes use it to build their own brands, like influencers do, and give fans a behind-the-scenes look at life at the Olympics.
The use of gold medals as a punch quickly emerged as one of the biggest trends among elite athletes qualified enough to earn one, as well as touring the village and snapshots of life as an Olympian.
TikTok / The NZ team
The NZ team shared a clip on TikTok of Black Ferns Sevens champions Gayle Broughton, Stacey Fluhler and Tyla Nathan-Wong showing off their gold medals after their Olympic victory in Tokyo.
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A number of Kiwi athletes had emerged as experts on the app.
One of the greatest examples of this was the Black Ferns Sevens team, which brought home a gold medal. Now in managed isolation at the Crowne Plaza Christchurch, many have spent their time using the app and using it to share their successes.
Ruby Tui, for example, shared a clip of herself dubbing Khalids Better with her hanging gold medal. So far, she had amassed almost 25,000 followers.
The official NZ team account even developed a game for medalists to filter their wins.
The account, which shared videos of all athletes, had increased its viewership to over 159,000.
Swimmer Lewis Clareburt also built a good reputation on the platform with over 124,000 followers. He used it to share snaps of the village, from the cardboard beds that piqued everyone’s interest to bespoke shoes.
During the Games, Clareburt told reporters that he and other athletes used TikTok to have some fun and laugh, and that it was a welcome distraction from what you’re about to do here.
“I’m pretty good at switching on and off when it comes to competitions and this focus mode and having fun.”
He said using the app in advance of his race would not affect him on race day.
Now in orderly isolation, Clareburt continued to expand his online presence by sharing a clip of things he took with him from the Olympic Village – a branded blanket was one of them – and answering questions that were regularly asked of him as an Olympic swimmer.
“Did you win?” he wrote about the video. “No, that’s of course why I’m on TikTok.”
There were a number of other Kiwi athletes worth seeing on the app – triathlete Hayden Wilde, Black Ferns Sevens star Fluhler, and diver Anton Down-Jenkins, to name a few.
Australian diver Sam Fricker had also amassed a considerable following with his videos showing what he was doing in his free time in the village, what it was like in the intense heat in Tokyo at the Australian gym, and even making his cardboard bed – 1, 1 million – .
Fricker’s compatriot water polo player Tilly Kearns had created a similar grid, with clips of the team screaming as she watched Ariarne Titmus win gold in the women’s 400m freestyle and show off the country’s opening ceremony outfit.
Looking further abroad, other athletes could be seen on TikTok, including British swimmer Adam Peaty, skateboarder Margie Didal from the Philippines, American diver Tyler Downs, and American rower Kendall Chase.