Simone Biles, Rayssa Leal: Which Olympians gained the most Instagram followers?

Rayssa Leal and Simone Biles

The Tokyo Olympics were significant in so many ways. 

Not only was the world provided with a three-week escape in the opportunity to watch the best athletes on the planet perform, but women’s sport was given the spotlight it deserves.

A number of milestone moments made history in Tokyo and plenty of female athletes grabbed the attention of millions. Here are the competitors who gained the most Instagram followers* during the 2020 Games, including some inspirational women.

Rayssa Leal – 5.8M

Brazilian trailblazer Rayssa Leal gained an astonishing amount of followers after she earned a silver medal in the women’s street skateboarding final. 

At just 13 years of age, the skating starlet inspired people of all ages and genders across the globe with her show-stopping performance in Tokyo. It’s no wonder her followers soared after she won an Olympic medal with such a professional performance at a young age.

Rayssa Leal at the Tokyo Olympics

Neeraj Chopra – 2.6M

Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra made history in Tokyo by becoming the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal in athletics.

The 23-year-old threw a distance of 87.58 metres in the final of the javelin event, finishing ahead of Czech duo Jakub Vadlejch and Vítězslav Veselý. His historic moment brought him a whopping 2.6 million new Instagram followers.

Simone Biles – 2.3M

Simone Biles was a major talking topic of the Olympics for a number of reasons. Not only did the gymnast add another medal to her tally but she did so while battling with her mental health.

After withdrawing from the women’s all-around team gymnastics final, Biles opened up on her struggles and despite also missing the majority of her individual events went on to win bronze in the balance beam final.

Her inspiring performance and admirable courage gained her 2.3 million new followers on Instagram.

Simone Biles at the Tokyo Olympics

Rebeca Andrade – 2.1M

Another gymnast whose social media followers skyrocketed during the Olympics is Rebeca Andrade. The Brazilian scooped a stellar three medals in Tokyo, including gold in the women’s vault and silver in the all-around event. 

Andrade retained her Olympic vault title from 2016 and made history for her country in the all-around final by becoming the first Brazilian to enter the last stage as the top qualifier.

Italo Ferreira – 1.8M

This summer, an Olympic surfing tournament was held for the first time in the Games’ history and with the landmark moment came plenty of individual milestones for the competitors.

Ítalo Ferreira of Brazil made history by becoming the first ever surfing gold medallist, riding to a thrilling win in the final over Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi. 

The excitement of a new Olympic sport teamed with Ferreira’s effortless skill in the water gained him an abundance of new Instagram followers.

Brazil's Italo Ferreira

Plenty of other athletes saw their social media accounts hit an upwards trajectory. US track star Sydney McLaughlin gained a 52% increase with 345,000 new followers after winning two gold medals, alongside compatriots and Sunisa Lee and Jordan Chiles, who saw more than a combined 1.4 million new supporters follow their accounts after their performances in artistic gymnastics.

The 2020 Olympics were a truly special period in the sporting world and there are just three years to go until Paris hosts even more exciting and historic moments in 2024.

*These numbers come from Will Yonder, who works in Sports Partnerships at Instagram.

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