The Rio Olympics kick off Friday, and you can watch all the official games go down on NBC.
But to get to know the fun-loving personalities of these world class athletes, there’s social media.
Thanks to the advent of Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, we’ll have more opportunities than ever to go inside the Olympic Village and behind the starting lines at every event. (And because so many of the athletes are young and social-media-savvy, there are more ways than ever to feel like you’re in Rio right with them.) Here are the Olympic athletes from all around the world whose (English-language) social media accounts you’ll want to follow — because sure, we can count on them to secure a medal, but best of all, they’ll show us the un-televised side of global sports including goofy shenanigans like pop sing-alongs, Drake dances, and group spa treatments.
Of course, knowing the Olympics, there will be plenty more unexpected stars that pop up as the games progress. But this is a good start for your inside view.
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The most decorated Olympian of all time (22 medals, 18 of them gold) is back for one more round this year. He’s always updating his social feeds with sweet snaps of his new baby and fiancée, and plenty of team pics of the swimming squad. We might even get some behind-the-scenes from the Opening Ceremonies, as he’ll be holding the flag for the U.S. on the big night.
Lochte — everyone’s favorite reformed party boy and medal-winning swimmer — has kicked off his road to Rio in style, bleaching his hair ice-blue. Expect all kinds of goofy swimming antics on his active Instagram and Twitter from the guy who brought us the 2012 catchphrase “Jeah!” as he prepares to face off against rival and teammate Michael Phelps.
Dressel’s a promising new swimming talent for the US men’s squad — and he’s just 19 until August 16th anyway. He should be fun to watch. (Case in point: his plentiful hotel selfies, like the above face mask snap. World-class athletes: they’re just like us!)
The recent TIME cover star is a three-time world champ for women’s gymnastics is a dynamo in her sport and in her social media feeds, already making a splash with fun-loving snaps of her squad and fellow Olympians out in Rio. Plus, all eyes will be on her as she competes for a number of high-profile gold medals. But you’d never know she’s feeling the pressure, based on her casual photos.
Raisman, the other 2012 gymnastics competitor from Team USA who’s back for more as team captain, keeps it very real on her Instagram (think: selfies, lots of candid shots and quippy captions) and is super chummy with the rest of the squad. She even live-tweeted her response to meeting Usain Bolt on Thursday.
Definitely check out Douglas, the star of the 2012 USA women’s gymnastics squad. She’s social savvy (with her own emoji app, even), and her feed has lots of spunk — although there are a fair number of corporate posts. But it’s worth it to keep tabs on her as she joins her team in what is bound to be another standout year on the mats, beams, and bars.
Ledecky has been the talk of women’s swimming for years now; at just 19 years old, she’s already an Olympic gold medalist and nine-time world champion. And she’s poised to make a major splash at this summer’s Games once more. Although less prolific on social media than some of her teammates, she’s definitely one to keep an eye on as she’s bound to be one of the big winners for Team USA this year.
Whether she’s sharing snapshots of a casual beach party or her Rio-ready patriotic manicure, Franklin’s feed is eminently relatable to any millennial. Plus, she’s a swimmer to watch: she’s got four golds already in her pocket from the last Olympics, and holds a number of world records for her indomitable backstroke.
Kerri Walsh Jennings
The volleyball star has a new partner in crime this year as she’s joined on the sand by April Ross, but her fans are just as excited as ever, especially because she keeps up a steady stream of updates. This will probably be Jennings’s last Olympic outing, after an insanely successful career. But for someone as famous as she is, her social feeds are refreshingly candid.
DeMar DeRozan may not be the biggest name on the Team USA basketball team, but the Toronto Raptors player might have the best social media accounts to follow. Just take a look at his viral-sensation video of the team in a Vanessa Carlton lipsync on their way to Rio, above. For more basketball shenanigans on Instagram, you could check out DeMarcus Cousins. Or follow Draymond Green on Snapchat — although be warned, he’s had some recent unfiltered mishaps. Either way, as the definite favorites, the whole team will be keeping us amused as they live it up in Rio while staying on a luxury yacht in advance of their big games.
For a different (read: non-Team-USA) perspective on basketball, check out Manu Ginobili. The San Antonio Spurs player will be competing for his native Argentina in the games, posting in both English and Spanish about his meetups with other players, their travels, and their prep.
Jamaica’s Bolt has been larger-than-life since he first shot to the record books with his insane speed. Expect plenty of unscripted moments and retweet-worthy inspirational sayings from an athlete with a seriously strong personal brand (and that iconic pose). So far in Rio he’s taken photos with members of the Brazilian army and spent time with local children.
A creative Twitter user, Bromell is a rising American track and field star, specifically a sprinter, with infinite self-confidence; he’ll be competing to claim Bolt’s crown in that arena, no matter what happens on the track. He also has a knack for sharing pretty funny memes mixed with uplifting quotes. As he noted in his last Instagram post, don’t sleep on this one.
He’s Brazil’s biggest soccer star. He has more than 55 million Instagram followers. And he’s still fine putting up an unfiltered Snapchat selfie to his Instagram. Plus, as a local, he’ll definitely have a different take on events than the other visiting athletes. (Though some of his captions are in Portuguese, most of the pictures and videos speak for themselves, like this one of his impressive egg trick.)
Carlin Isles & Team USA Rugby
Rugby is making its Olympic debut this year — and the American boys are ones to watch. Isles, a former football player, is widely considered the fastest man in rugby. He posts everything from tongue-in-cheek teammate snaps to cheeky lip-sync videos and plenty of workout inspiration, so if anything fun is happening behind the scenes, we’ll probably see it from him first. Also consider checking in on teammate Nate Ebner or captain Madison Hughes.
A forward on the USWNT, Morgan keeps her Instagram (and Twitter) updated with cheeky pics of the team at practice and at play. Whether she’s sharing pictures with the stars of Broadway’s Hamilton or sharing in-flight selfies with her team, Morgan keeps her fans in the loop.
Solo is the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s immensely popular (and experienced) goalkeeper, having led the team to victory in the two previous Olympics. As an Olympics regular, Solo knows how to relax and have a good time at the games. Case in point: her irreverent posts from her side of the field, which she has dubbed “The Department of Defense.”
Venus & Serena Williams
Ashton Eaton & Brianne Theisen-Eaton
Eaton, (Team U.S.A.) is widely considered the best athlete in the world. The decathlon champ and his (Canadian) wife, who competes in the heptathlon and decathlon, share an Instagram account where they’ve promised to document their full Olympic journey.
Muhammad is breaking barriers as the first U.S. woman to compete in the Olympics with a hijab, repping Team USA in fencing. She’s been an advocate for her sport and for her religion, combating stereotypes left and right as one of the oldest members of her team at 30, as a Muslim, and as a first-time Olympian. She’s got a good shot at medaling, too. And as for her social media accounts? So far she’s already taken selfies with tennis great Rafael Nadal and posted team pictures from Copacabana Beach, so it’s safe to say she’ll be a fun one to follow for her story, her sport, and her spirit.
Miles Chamley-Watson is a model, a world-class fencer, and a completely follow-worthy social media personality. Whether it’s glamour shots, daily workouts, or candid snippets from ice baths, world fencing champ Chamley-Watson makes sure to share plenty with his audience — especially shots of his tattooed self. The fun-loving fencer has already posted plenty from the Olympic Village, including a picture with the legendary Brazilian Pelé, so we definitely expect more where that’s from.
Jake Dalton & Team USA Men's Gymnastics
If you want to stay abreast of all the men’s gymnastics info for Team USA, Jake Dalton should be your go-to, as he can be depended upon to keep his feeds updated (and nail his routines on the floor). Expect lots of snaps of men and muscles as the five men make their medal attempts.
This one’s for the equestrian fans: Dujardin is the account to follow for all things equine in Rio. Hailing from the U.K., Dujardin is the reigning gold medalist and world champion for her event, and will be the one to beat this year as well. Her social media accounts are refreshingly down-to-earth, too.
The reigning Olympic and world champion in freestyle wrestling is coming back for more at this summer’s Olympics, and is just as committed than ever — his social media handles are even “@alliseeisgold.” If you’re following wrestling at all, he’s the one to root for.
New Zealand’s star golfer Lydia Ko will be swinging for her country as the sport returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1904. At 17 years old, Ko was the youngest professional golf player to ever reach number-one status, male or female; she’s still only 19.
This British hockey player has been posting plenty of fun-loving tweets of his time in Rio so far, including tourist adventures with his team (like meeting Andy Murray) and video tours of his Olympic Village housing (and personal ukelele). Plus, he’s not afraid to pull out an Instagram photo collage. Now that’s dedication to the art form.
Diver Steele Johnson is making his Olympic debut this year (and following in the footsteps of gold-medal teammate David Boudia, who he’ll partner with in the synchronized dives), but he’s already won multiple national junior and college titles. The newbie is also a popular YouTuber, with his own channel — and he’s already posted multiple videos from Rio, including a tour of the Village and some swimming outtakes.