How Bolt, Rio, Phelps and the rest told the story of sport in 2012 using 140 characters
21:22 GMT, 24 December 2012
Ah Twitter. How did the sporting world manage before it had you
It's quite astounding how many sportsmen have managed to land themselves in hot water this year in only 140 characters. Joey Barton, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand – the list goes on.
But there are some sporting stars with a much better grasp of Twitter, and choose to use its powers for good rather than evil.
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The Olympics saw a social media explosion as it became the most tweeted event 2012, with a staggering 150 million tweets being sent over the 16 days.
And the athletes involved were desperate to share their moments of joy with the fans, as well as with watching celebrities.
After Bradley Wiggins won time trial gold medal he posted a picture of himself celebrating next to St Paul's iconic dome in central London. Ever the life and soul of the party, the cyclist added: ‘Well what a day, blind drunk at the minute and overwhelmed with all the messages, Thank You everyone it’s been emotional X’
Others not directly involved just had to express their pride in the British team as they watched them storm to victory. Kevin Pietersen could barely contain his excitement as Mo Farah took his second gold of the games.
His tweet was simple, but said what most of those at home and in the stadium were screaming: 'Moooooooooooooo Mooooooooooooo Moooooooooooo #BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM'
The American athletes were thrilled to be given personal praise from Barack Obama himself.
Michael Phelps received congratulations from the President as he tweeted: 'Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record. You've made your country proud. –bo.'
Says what we're thinking: Kevin Pietersen summed up the nation's feelings as Mo Farah claimed gold
Phelps replied: 'Thank you Mr. President!! It’s an honor representing the #USA!! The best country in the world!!'
Teen sensation Missy Franklin was also beside herself when she received a tweet of congratulations following her first gold medal in the 100m backstroke, but hers was from Justin Bieber, who tweeted: 'Heard @FranklinMissy is a fan of mine. Now I'm a fan of hers too. CONGRATS on winning GOLD! #muchlove.'
'I just died,' was Franklin’s simple response.
There were some more poignant moments over the 16 days.
As Michael Phelps bowed out of the Games for good he tweeted: 'Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened – Dr Seuss.'
Ryan Lochte joined his American team-mate in putting forward more philosophical thoughts, tweeting: 'Always reach for the moon cuz if u slip up u will still be a star!! #Jeah'
And of course, the Olympics wouldn’t be complete without a classic from Usain Bolt.
He had just become the first man to defend both the 100m and 200m Olympic titles and, never one to shy away from his own success, the Jamaican superstar tweeted: 'Thanks to all my real fans and people who believe in me. I am now a living legend that’s for sure.'
Later a picture was posted of him with three members of the women's Swedish handball team.
Behind the scenes: We saw celebrating dressing rooms and even the toilets at Buckingham Palace
TOP 10 TWEETS OF THE YEAR
1. ‘Feels Good To Be Awesome.’ – Bubba Watson
‘Well what a day, blind drunk at the minute and overwhelmed with all
the messages, Thank You everyone it's been emotional X’ – Bradley
3. ‘Moooooooooooooo Mooooooooooooo Moooooooooooo #BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM’ – Kevin Pietersen
4. ‘Roger uv got the moves like jagger’ – Yuvraj Singh (after Roger Federer’s Wimbledon victory
the lights on the stumps and bails at the BBL (Big Bash League). Remind
me of a pair of trainers I had as a kid.’ – Eoin Morgan
Murray did himself, his family and his nation proud today. Played like a
champ. His time will come for sure!’ – Rory McIlroy
7. ‘Thank you Mr. President!! It’s an honor representing the #USA!! The best country in the world!!’ – Michael Phelps
8. ’OMFG I think it just hit me, I'm a CHAMPION!! I AM a CHAMPION!!’ – Lebron James, after the 2012 NBA Finals
‘Coach, told me to go do a pool workout. So I went & did some Push
ups next to the pool. What! I aint getting this hair wet #mixedchick
#afro’ – Lolo Jones
10. ‘Where did it all go wrong They say it’s the
organiser’s fault, but I blame myself.’ – Twitter user impersonating
an unoccupied Olympic chair
Another athlete having fun on Twitter this year was Bubba Watson. After winning his first Major he told the world how he felt in quite simple terms, tweeting: 'Feels Good To Be Awesome.'
The golfer also managed to please an over-excitable fan, who tweeted at him: 'Hey Bubba, Please could You tweet me saying hi or something :3'
Watson responded with a brief 'hi' and the fan replied with: 'You have just made my day! Thank You!! :3'
But 2012 did see some darker moments on the social networking site, with many a careless comment resulting in a fine or worse.
Racism as an issue has been the ever-present spectre in sport this year, and Twitter was in no way immune.
Rio Ferdinand committed one of the most high-profile foul-ups when he re-tweeted a comment about Ashley Cole.
Cole had been appearing in court as part of John Terry’s defence against charges of racially aggravated abuse towards Anton Ferdinand, and a Twitter user labelled him a 'choc ice' – a slang term which refers to someone being black on the outside but white on the inside.
Ferdinand re-tweeted the comment, saying: 'I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! hahahahahahha!!'
The comment drew criticism from many who felt it smacked of hypocrisy in an argument about racism. The Manchester United defender was fined 45,000 but suffered no harsher punishment.
The same cannot be said for Voula Papachristou and Michel Morganella, both of whom were sent home from the Olympics after tweeting offensive remarks.
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Papachristou, a triple-jumper, was expelled from the Greek Olympic team after tweeting in reference to mosquitos carrying the West Nile virus: 'With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!'
The tweet was seen as xenophobic and against the ideals of the Olympic Games, as were the comments made by Michel Morganella, who labelled Koreans, 'retards' and said they could 'burn' after Switzerland's 2-1 defeat at the hands of South Korea.
Like Papachristou, the Swiss was immediately sent home.
Snooker ace Mark Allen also got himself into trouble with offensive tweets during the Haikou World Open, after he tweeted: 'Journey a nightmare. People are ignorant. Place stinks. Arena's rubbish, tables poor, food is horrendous. Other than that I love China.'
Though that particular tweet was removed, it was one in a number of less-than-flattering statements about the host country.
There were some downright uncomfortable moments too, such as when Lance Armstrong, ever defiant in the face of criticism, tweeted a picture of his seven Tour de France jerseys hanging on his wall.
The titles may have been stripped after doping allegations, but the disgraced cyclist didn’t seem to take that too seriously as he tweeted ‘Back in Austin and just layin’ around’ with the picture of him lying on a sofa beneath the jerseys.
There was also bewilderment when three-time Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton revealed on Twitter that she had been working as an escort.
Hamilton competed in three Olympic Games for the US, in 1992, 1996 and 2000. The middle-distance runner lived in Wisconsin with her husband, but had been working for an escort service in Las Vegas.
'I do not expect people to understand,' tweeted the American. 'But the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression.'
Dad's the word: Gerard Pique and Dan Carter were two to take to Twitter to reveal good news to the world
Some athletes used Twitter for what could be called 'professional reasons' in 2012, but perhaps unadvisedly so.
As a rule of thumb it’s usually best
not to criticise your employers in public forums, but that didn’t stop
Australian fly-half Quade Cooper from labelling the environment in the
Wallabies as ‘toxic’ on Twitter.
Cooper spent a few months in limbo as
he waited to see what the long-term fall-out would be from his comments,
but all was forgiven in the end and he re-joined the national squad
earlier this month.
But there was some heart-warming tweeting amongst all the fraying tempers. Gerard Pique and Dan Carter both used Twitter to announce baby news this year, with Pique posting the picture of his first child’s sonogram.
'His first pic! #excited #cute,' tweeted the proud prospective papa.
All Black Carter announced that his wife Honor was expecting a baby in November, tweeting: 'Thought it was time to share our exciting news.. @honorcarter is 21 weeks pregnant! We are both very excited about being parents Babycarter.'
All in all the year has exemplified Twitter’s ubiquity in sport, and whether or not we see managers and agents start to ban their charges from using it remains to be seen.
It would be a shame for fans to lose the chance to interact with their idols in the way that 2012 has shown is possible. But with so many players making headlines for the wrong reasons, it may be an inevitable end result.