The opening ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, begin tonight (Aug. 5), and thousands of athletes waiting to compete are already showing their excitement on social media.
Posts by global sports stars like Michael Phelps and Neymar will get plenty of press, and top players from the US and Western Europe are among the most-followed Olympians on Instagram. But for a less well-known perspective on Rio, consider following the athletes below: Compiled by Quartz reporters from around the world, these are the most fascinating behind-the-scenes Instagram feeds from Rio, by Olympians hailing from South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
David Rudisha, Kenya, 800m
As his Instagram handle suggests, Rudisha will be running in the men’s 800-meter race at Rio. The Kenyan middle distance runner is one of the world’s best, and although he barely qualified for this year’s Olympic games, Rudisha is ranked third globally. He still manages to keep it down-to-earth on Instagram.
Manu Ginobili, Argentina, basketball
Manu Ginobili is a pro basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs in the US National Basketball Association (NBA). The charismatic 39-year-old won gold for Argentina at the games in Athens in 2004, and Rio is likely to be his last Olympic games. He is one of only two basketball players in the world to have won Olympic gold, a Euroleague title and an NBA ring.
Sarah Attar, Saudi Arabia, marathon
Attar made history as one of the first two women to ever represent Saudi Arabia at the Olympics, at the 2012 London games. Before that, she majored in art at Pepperdine University in California. The 24-year-old dual US citizen is clearly a nature lover; unusually for an Olympian, her Instagram feed is full of stunning landscapes instead of selfies.
Ruslan Zhaparov, Kazakhstan, taekwondo
Kazakh martial artist Ruslan Zhaparov will compete in the Olympic men’s 80kg taekwondo. Trained by a French coach, Zhaparov (20) might be great at knocking people to the ground, but his Instagram feed suggests he’s pretty talented at defying gravity, too.
Griselda Khng, Singapore, sailing
Griselda Khng (video) made waves as a 15-year-old sailing prodigy when she won the 2006 ASEAN Optimist championship for young sailors. Now 25, the first-time Olympian reportedly had to gain 14 kilos (more than 30 pounds) for optimal balance on her boat in Rio, per the Straits Times. Khng posts photos of beautiful sails—and the occasional fangirl selfie with sports stars like tennis champion Rafael Nadal.
Érika Olivera, Chile, marathon
Chilean marathoner Érika Olivera turned 40 this year. An Olympics veteran, Olivera previously competed in the 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2012 Games, and when she retires, the unflagging mother of five says she wants to start a career in politics. She recently won broad public support for publicly stating that she survived sexual abuse as a child.
Jwala Gutta, India, badminton
Jwala Gutta, 32, played women’s and mixed doubles at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Now in Rio, the left-handed doubles specialist’s Instagram is a window to all things personal at the games: spunky luggage, Rio’s themed bedding and Team India’s badminton group selfies.
Mahsa Javer, Iran, rowing
Mahsa Javer is a 22-year-old rower and one of nine female athletes from Iran who will compete at Rio 2016. In April, she won a silver medal at the 2016 FISA Asia & Oceania Olympic Qualification Regatta in South Korea. Smiling photos on her Instagram show Javer carrying around her racing shell and weightlifting, all in the hijab required by Iranian law.
Chih Kai Lee, Taiwan, gymnastics
Before he became known as one of Taiwan’s best gymnasts, Chih Kai Lee practiced gymnastics after school at a wet market, where his mother worked. This gave him his nickname: “Market Kid Kai.” At age nine, Lee was featured in a 2005 documentary called “Jump! Boys” (video). Eleven years later, most other boys in the film have given up gymnastics, but Lee has claimed his ticket to Rio.
Jak Ali Harvey, Turkey, 100m
Jak Ali Harvey is a former Jamaican sprinter, once known as Jacques Montgomery Harvey. In 2015, he changed his name and took on Turkish nationality. ““A lot of people leave their country to live in other countries and I just chose to live in a different country and I am representing them” Harvey told the Jamaica Observer. “They embrace me a lot. I am very well known around the area.” In June, he earned his adopted country a silver medal in the 100-meter sprint at the European Athletics Championships, in the Netherlands.
Ian Lariba, Philippines, ping pong
Lariba, 21, is the first table tennis player to ever represent the Philippines at the Olympics. She will carry her country’s flag at the opening ceremonies on Aug. 5, but the honor has reportedly sparked fears that she could hurt or tire herself ahead of a 9am match the next day. Lariba’s Instagram feed shows she’s already had plenty of practice hugging the Olympic village’s stuffed mascots—perhaps she could carry one of those instead.
Rami Anis, Team Refugee (Syria), 100m butterfly
Born in Aleppo, Rami Anis was one of Syria’s top swimmers when the Arab Spring began in 2011. He fled to Turkey soon after, and in 2016 made the treacherous boat crossing to Greece over the Aegean Sea . The 25-year-old has since settled in Belgium. He is one of ten UNHCR refugee athletes who will bring hope to the tens of millions displaced people globally, as they tune in to the games.
With reporting by Ananya Bhattacharya, Felicitas Sanchez, Chi-An Wang, Selina Cheng, Abdi Latif, Julia Case-Levine, Kata Karath, Kelsey Kennedy, Neha Thirani Bagri and Mun Keat Looi.