By Claire West

Such is the explosion of social networking — boosted by the growth of mobile technology — that every major event seems to set new records for social interaction.

Ahead of Sochi, the Games record was held by the London 2012 Closing Ceremony, which generated an extraordinary 2 000 tweets per second at its peak.

Media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are fundamentally changing the way people everywhere are engaging with the Games.

Never before have we been able to get so close to the lives and experiences of the athletes, whose pictures and video from ‘the inside’ offer previously unimaginable access.

But how soon before the athletes themselves are able to exploit this new currency? And will there be an impact on existing sports rights holders?

When Atos published ‘Ascent: a vision for sport and technology’ during London 2012, members of our Scientific Community speculated on the emergence of ‘athlete equity’ fuelled by the growth of social media platforms and the potential for athletes to monetize new sources and quantities of their personal data.

Alexander Zolotarev, head of social media research at the Russian International Olympic University believes we may now be witnessing the first signs of this phenomenon.

He points to the social media brands offering training camps to Sochi Olympians — to educate them on how to use the platforms and, crucially, to push new products.

“Wait and see,” he says, “but I believe these Games will be the platform for Twitter’s ‘Vine’ service to take off…”