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Filippo Tortu, a champion of sports and social media

Data demonstrates that the LUISS student has drawn the web's attention to track and field


The LUISS Data Lab has analyzed data on the hashtags contained in the tweets on LUISS student-athlete Filippo Tortu, revealing a newfound interest for track and field on the web. The Milan native and LUISS Economics and Management student beat Olympic champion Pietro Mennea’s record in the 100 meters, becoming the first Italian under 10 seconds with a time of 9.99.

Web users, however, discovered the runner only after his showing in Madrid.

Google Trends shows us that exactly one year ago, searches for his name rapidly increased when the 19-year-old qualified for the world championship in London thanks to his performance at the Golden Gala of Rome in the 200 meters.

Clocking in at 20.34, Tortu currently ranks fourth in Italy. Only two months later, however, he risked elimination from the World Championship in London. On August 6, 2017, following a disappointing performance, general interest fell back onto him and to his performance in the semi-finals. While not in top shape, the athlete still reached his goal.

But his fairy tale ended after only three days, at least for 2017. Having reached the semi-finals, Tortu finished the first three rounds in sixth place in a photo finish with Japan’s Shoto Ilzuka and South Africa’s Akani Simbine. In December 2017, his name perked the interest of Italian web users again when he qualified for the 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin.

His greatest surge, however, occurred on June 22, when his record took Italy to the top of international rankings, beating another longstanding Italian record.

Between 8 p.m. on Friday evening until the first hours of Saturday morning, the web was flooded with compliments and congratulations for the 19-year-old athlete. Twitter users lavished him with positive comments, when not even a year ago, he would never have expected such shining results. His success, after summers monopolized by World Cup and European Championship matches, has turned the web’s attention to the once-ignored sport.