Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sprinters Powell and Gay Lead Press Coverage of Olympic Athletes

By Dow Jones Insight Staff

For the first time since Dow Jones Insight began analyzing media coverage heading into the Beijing Olympic Games, Michael Phelps is not the most talked-about athlete, at least in traditional media sources (print and online). During the period of July 15 to July 28, Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell garnered the most coverage, with 645, or 17%, of the total 3,807 mentions of athletes being tracked. Following closely behind among the top 10 athletes was U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay, with 491 mentions, or 13%. Powell and Gay, along with Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, are expected to fight it out for the gold medal in the glamour event of the track and field competition – the 100 meters.

In third was Australian swimmer Grant Hackett with 444 mentions for 12%, followed by Phelps with 432 mentions for 11%. U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm was next with 365 mentions for 10%. Hamm made headlines a few months ago when he was named to the U.S. team despite breaking his wrist at the Olympic trials. He was back in the news this week when he announced he was withdrawing from the team because of concerns that his injury would not be fully healed by the start of the Games.

Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang and U.S. swimmer Dara Torres each had 9% of the total mentions. Australian hurdler Jana Rawlinson had 254 mentions, or 7%, mainly covering her failure to make the 2008 Australian team. Rounding out the top 10 were U.S. track athletes Jeremy Wariner, with 7%, and Allyson Felix, with 6%.

However, when it comes to social media, Phelps is still the fan favorite, dominating coverage in message boards and blogs. The swimming superstar had 186 of 663 total mentions of the athletes tracked, for 28%, which was nearly double the mentions for Torres, who had the second-highest total. Torres had 99 mentions, for 15%. Rivals Gay and Powell followed with 81 and 63 mentions, respectively. Hamm and Liu Xiang each had 8% of mentions. U.S. women’s gymnast Shawn Johnson had 38 mentions for 6% and Felix had 37 mentions for 6%. British marathoner Paula Radcliffe had 28 mentions for 4% and Wariner had 27 mentions for 4%.
Methodology: Analysis includes the English-language sources taken from a database of 6,000 newspapers, wires, magazines, radio and TV transcripts; about 13,000 current-awareness news sites; 60,000 message boards and about two million blogs.

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