The emotional journey of Team GB


The emotional journey of Team GB has been one of the most compelling stories at London 2012 and it has been fascinating to observe the host nation identifying with and getting wrapped up in the Games.

As we recently added an archive mode to the emoto site, we can now investigate the development of individual topics over time. See, for instance, the sentiment history for Team GB (shot above), how the levels of interest changed each day, and the mix of positive and negative emotions. The size indicates the level of attention on twitter, and the origami shapes indicate positive and negative emotion, shades of orange and red are positive and shades of blue are negative. See the positive sentiment towards Team GB especially on Day 8 – Super Saturday. As we story also the most important tweets, you can even go back in time to that day and see the key tweets on Day 8 for Team GB.

Below you can see the emotional response to topics running from left to right as the days unfold, from Team GB as a whole to individual athletes. (click the image for a full-size version)

We see an outpouring of emotion online, represented as a dark orange round, visualising the audience response to the their triumph.

With an immediacy, we witness the craze around Team GB as it was felt and shared by the audience and sports fans. This was made up of many individual dramas around the athletes.

We see the drama unfold around the medals table. From the first medal won, to anxiety about the lack of Golds in the early days. Relief was palpable when Bradley Wiggins and then Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won the first Team GB Golds on Day 5. The anxiety turned to euphoria as the records tumbled on Super Saturday with six Gold medals for Team GB  (BBC).

The big stories are all there, and so are some surprises. What is striking is we see Andy Murray hitting some serious highs but a low at the beginning, this negative emotion may reflect feelings towards Murray, could he pull it off this time after losing Wimbledon? This changed completely as the excitement grew and he got the Gold. Sentiment around Chris Hoy were almost entirely positive while around Victoria Pendleton there were contrasting emotions. She was involved in a drama during her race with Anna Mears in the cycling sprint. Pendleton won the race by 1/1000 sec but referees decided she had crossed the red line and Mears won the race.

Response to Bradley Wiggins was on the whole high – here are tweets displayed ‘live’ on emoto while the events were unfolding along with an origami representation of the attention and emotional tone.

The image above was captured on emoto after Bradley Wiggings had won the gold medal in the men’s Individual Time Trial Road Cycling. This emotionally intensive moment can clearly be observed on the Team GB emoto timeline.

As the medals kept coming for Team GB, the human stories continued to grip the nation. The ‘triathlon brothers’ had viewers on the edge of their seats. Alistair Brownlee powered across the finish line in the men’s Triathlon to win Great Britain’s 19th gold medal. His brother Jonathan Brownlee, despite a 15 second penalty, came through to get Bronze.

emoto captured moment the people of Britain woke up to a strange new presence in their urban landscape – a ‘Golden Postbox’. As news from BBC Sport hit the airwaves (“Great Britain equals the total number of golds they won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – 19”)  traditional red postboxes throughout the country were painted gold in honour of the Olympic Champions. On emoto, we see the surprise and delight, and how the host nation is getting into the Olympic spirit in unexpected ways.

Comparing the UK to the rest of the world, it is interesting that overall the major trends were similar in audience response, except that the emotions were somewhat more intense in the UK.

People followed largely the same emotional journey, but that journey was more intense for the UK.   Once we look in more detail all sorts of unexpected discoveries drop out – August 1 and 3 were big emotional days for the UK and the rest of the world. This is surprising for the UK, as 2 and 4 were the big breakthrough days for the UK medal haul.  Conversely there was a marked divergence on 29 July, with UK postive but rest of the world less so.  Both had a dip on 2 August, and on 4 August, the big day of Super Saturday, in the UK the emotion levelled off, and in the rest of the world it dipped, which is something of a surprise.

So now the race is on for the remaining medals. Let emoto be your guide to unexpected late entries and triumphs of the games.  emoto will continue to track the Olympic journey, bringing updates in real time of surprising trends and unexpected discoveries.