When the Olympics were in Vancouver in 2010, I volunteered and enjoyed connecting with other volunteers during and after the Games, mainly via Facebook. People have called the 2010 Games the first social Olympics, and while I agree with that, I think the London 2012 Games were the first to really take hold of the technology and run with it. Pun intended.
I have two stellar examples that demonstrate this.
My father and I were watching the men’s eight rowing from Eton Dorney and we kept seeing a large number of cyclists in the background following the rowers. Dad wondered who they were–members of the audience, judges, or crew members.
Meanwhile, I was wondering how the rowers at the front of the boats could hear the calls of the coxswains at the back of the boats.
Neither of had participated in the sport, so I searched on Google for answers to our questions. I found more about the coxswains than I did about the cyclists, but not exactly what I wanted. During my search I came across the Twitter account for Rowing Canada and I sent my two queries in their direction.
The next day I found responses to both of the questions waiting for me.
@robertdall yes… mainly coaches
— Rowing Canada Aviron (@rowingcanada) August 3, 2012
Wow! Answers directed right to me. In the old days you had to rely on the TV announcer to provide everything and if he didn’t mention it you were left to ponder. (It certainly made for more lively conversation around our house about the amount of coaches every team has.) 🙂
The second example left me a little more starstruck.
I was watching the closing ceremonies live and I thought I would send out a thank you tweet to a number of Olympic athletes who were on Twitter and whom I had watched during the games.
Hey @jessicazelinka @rosiemaclennan @vankayak @cochraneryan @simonwhitfield @karen_cockburn @paulafindlayThanks for representing Canada!
— Robert Dall (@robertdall) August 12, 2012
Regardless of whether they won medals or not, I just wanted to say thanks for wearing the maple leaf. To my complete surprise, Simon Whitfield, triathlete and opening ceremonies flag bearer, replied back from the middle of the field during the closing ceremonies.
@robertdall thanks Robert!!!
— simon whitfield (@simonwhitfield) August 12, 2012
It was the first time I had ever watched a live event of this scale and communicated with a participant in this way. Although the Games were 7,578 km away, I felt a part of them. And even though it was only a small part, it was an exciting moment for me nonetheless.
These two examples show what kind of interaction, what kind of support we can show our athletes when they dedicate the vast majority of their lives to sport, hoping to represent their country in front of the world.
I look forward to the Sochi Games when I will be patriotically watching our athletes represent our home and native land. And knowing they are interacting directly with fans like me.