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Bolt takes gold in Olympics social media race

By Tim Hume, CNN
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
Usain Bolt reflects on winning the 200 meters final, the most talked about Olympic moment on Twitter.
Usain Bolt reflects on winning the 200 meters final, the most talked about Olympic moment on Twitter.
  • Usain Bolt was the most talked about athlete on social media, say Twitter and Facebook
  • His sprint finals were the most discussed Olympic events
  • U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps was the second most talked about Olympian
  • The Spice Girls appearance at the closing ceremony prompted more chatter than any event

London (CNN) -- His blistering pace and larger-than-life antics made him the king of the track in London, and bolstered his claims to be a "living legend."

Now figures released by Twitter and Facebook have confirmed that Usain Bolt was the most talked about athlete at the Olympics, edging out swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.

On Twitter, Bolt's two individual gold medal-winning sprints each generated more discussion than any other moment of Olympic competition.

According to figures released by Andrew Fitzgerald, Twitter's editorial programming manager, Bolt's victory in the 200-meter sprint was the most discussed moment of competition, inspiring a flurry of more than 80,000 tweets per minute,

The most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen
Usain Bolt's Twitter bio

His earlier performance in the 100 meters was the most talked about Olympic moment on Facebook, and the second most talked about on Twitter, generating 74,000 tweets per minute.

Bolt was a key figure in the fourth most discussed moment of competition on Twitter as well, when the Jamaican 4x100-meter relay team set a world record in their final. The victory to Great Britain's Andy Murray over Roger Federer in the men's tennis final was the third most talked about Olympic moment on Twitter, generating 57,000 tweets per minute.

Usain Bolt: How does he do it?
Usain Bolt's street art portrait

Bolt was followed by swim star Phelps at the top of Twitter's list of the 10 most talked about athletes, each of whom was mentioned more than a million times on the service.

Read more: London 2012's top 10 moments

The multiple gold medalists were followed by British diver Tom Daley (3), US swimmer Ryan Lochte (4), American gymnast Gabby Douglas (5), Murray (6), US basketball player Kobe Bryant (7), Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake (8), Malaysian badminton player Lee Chong Wei (9) and American basketball player LeBron James (10)

Facebook's line-up was slightly different, but Bolt and Phelps held on to the first and second spots, followed by Douglas (3), Lochte (4), Daley (5), Brazilian soccer player Neymar (6), Murray (7), British athlete Jessica Ennis (8), South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius (9) and American tennis player Serena Williams (10).

Known as the global game, it is little surprise that soccer was the most discussed Olympic event on Twitter: the subject of more than 5 million tweets. Also popular were swimming, track and field, gymnastics, and volleyball.

Read more: London 2012 -- trust the British to get it right

But the spectacles of the opening and closing ceremonies generated even more chatter than any of the sporting events.. Both ceremonies drove large spikes in Twitter conversation, with the biggest generated by the reformed Spice Girls, whose closing ceremony performance prompted more than 116,000 tweets per minute.

But if Bolt -- whose Twitter biography proclaims himself the "most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen" -- takes umbrage at being temporarily overshadowed by a 90s girl group, he can turn to his Facebook fans for solace. While the Spice Girls, who had their heyday in a world before social media, can muster only 166,000 fans on Facebook, Bolt has more than 8 million of them.

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