EYES ON LONDON: Gabby's gold, Phelps claims 20th

By The Associated Press Updated at 2012-08-03 06:00:52 +0000

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    F6a3591aa3f12215170f6a7067006b53 ALTERNATE CROP OF OGYM222- U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas acknowledges the crowd after receiving her gold medal during the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London. (AP)

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  • 2012-08-03 05:49:30 UTC
    A801a765a4522315170f6a7067000de5 United States' Michael Phelps, right, and his teammate Ryan Lochte climb out of the pool after their gold and silver medal finishes in the men's 200-meter individual medley swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer O

LONDON (AP) — Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:



Two years after Gabby Douglas left her home and family, moving halfway across the country at 14 in search of better coaching, she's claimed the biggest prize in gymnastics.

The 16-year-old from Virginia Beach, Virginia, beat Viktoria Komova on Thursday to become the third straight American to win the Olympic all-around title, and first African-American. She took the lead after the first event and never relinquished it, locking up the gold with a floor exercise that had the O2 Arena rocking.

She flashed a bright grin when she finished, while her mother, siblings and the family that's taken her in and made her one of their own, shared joyful hugs. When she stood atop the medals podium, she wore a smile bright enough to outshine that pretty gold medal around her neck.

— Nancy Armour — Twitter http://twitter.com/nrarmour



U.S. judo coach Jimmy Pedro brought two backup phones to the London Olympics.

And when Kayla Harrison delivered the first Olympic gold medal in USA Judo's history, all of Pedro's phones went bonkers with calls and texts from well-wishers.

Pedro was holding an iPhone — which had a steady stream of texts rolling up the screen, so many that Pedro simply couldn't keep up reading them.

"Everybody and anybody in American judo that has ever touched my life, Kayla's life or my father's life," Pedro said, when asked who's been calling. "They've been waiting for this moment their entire lives."

— Tim Reynolds — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds



Maybe it was the socks.

U.S. judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison is superstitious, so she made sure things were exactly how she wanted them at the London Games.

"I'm big on ritual and I'm big on patterns and I get comfortable," Harrison said. "And when I get comfortable, I get confident. And when I get confident, I win."

So when coach Jimmy Pedro needed to pick a suit for Thursday's matches, he and Harrison decided that he shouldn't wear the USA Judo one that failed to deliver Olympic gold earlier in the tournament. He went instead with his opening ceremony outfit.

Harrison, meanwhile, wore the lucky socks that her grandmother gave her six years ago and played her lucky playlist.

Now she's got another lucky charm — Olympic gold.

— Tim Reynolds — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds



What do NBC researchers know about Americans? Plenty.

They have found that people who know the results of London Olympics events before they see it on a tape delay are more not less likely to watch them.


NBC has been criticized for not televising live some marquee London events like swimming and gymnastics. Still, the U.S. broadcaster has been getting far better ratings for the London Games than it ever expected, outpacing the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

— David Bauder — Twitter http://twitter.com/dbauder



If Helen Mirren can't get Britain's notoriously rowdy cycling crowd to zip it, who can?

The woman whose icy glare in "The Queen" buckled knees in theaters all over the globe is one of several famous British faces who appears on a quick video that is played sporadically at the Velodrome to quieten the crowd before the start of a race.

Mirren, actor Simon Pegg and musician Gary Barlow are among those shown holding their finger to their lips and giving a loud "Shhhhhh!"

In one of the versions, Mirren is the last face to appear. She leans forward slightly and sternly says, "Button it."

It's worked every time.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APKrawczynski



Winning gold doesn't get old.

With his lip quivering slightly, Michael Phelps looked liked he was really appreciating the moment Thursday night as the U.S. anthem played to celebrate his first individual gold of the London games, in the 200-meter individual medley.

With this, Phelps becomes the first man to win the same indvidual event in three straight Olympics. That makes for 20 overall Olympic medals in his career, 16 of them gold.

—Sheila Norman-Culp — Twitter http://twitter.com/snormanculp



"I don't ever recall anybody this quickly rising from an average good gymnast to a fantastic one." — U.S. women's national team coordinator Martha Karolyi on gold medalist Gabby Douglas' rapid ascent to the top of the sport.

Douglas won Olympic gold in the women's all-around on Thursday.

— Mark Long — Twitter http://twitter.com/apmarklong



Russian gymnasts Victoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina both said they were pleased with their silver and bronze medals after the women's all-around competition.

Yet their body language said the exact opposite.

Komova broke into tears when the final scores were posted and shoved her silver medal in her left pocket after the ceremony.

When asked why, she rolled her eyes, and Mustafina said something to her in Russian. Komova said something brief and a translator replied the medal was in her pocket because "it is heavy."

So why the long face?

"I'm still upset because I could have been gold and I didn't get it," Komova said through a translator.

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennafryer



China has two gold medals in two days in Olympic table tennis — and two silver medals to boot.

In other sports — and in other nations — that would call for chest-bumping, high-fiving and raucous celebrations. At least, a few smiles.

None of that from Zhang Jike, who defeated teammate Wang Hao in Thursday's men's singles final. Zhang's lone hint of happiness, celebrating his first Olympic gold medal, lasted about as long as a good pingpong rally.

Table tennis apparently is seen in China as the ultimate team game. Beating a friend and teammate calls for restraint and respect.

After the winning point to take the match 4-1, Zhang leaped over a barrier surrounding the playing area, raced to the medal podium and kneeled down and kissed the top platform designated for the gold medalist.

That was the beginning and the end of it.

— Stephen Wade — Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP



Forget peanuts and Cracker Jack. There's an entirely different sort of treat for sale at kiosks outside the Olympic Stadium: olives.

That's right: Only steps from the arena, gourmet olives of all sorts — large, pitted green ones stuffed with hot red peppers or black ones marinated with herbs, etc., etc. — can be scooped out of bowls and into clear plastic containers with lids.

There are two sizes of takeaway container available, including a small one for 2.50 pounds (about $3.85).

Who says stadium chow is the pits?

See an olive stand here: http://yfrog.com/nx1lxhhj

— Howard Fendrich — Twitter http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich



Aly Raisman could have used an extra point — or half point or even quarter point.

The American gymnast fell just short of a medal in the women's all-around competition Thursday, losing a tiebreaker to Russian Aliya Mustafina.

Both scored 59.666 after four events, and the Olympic tiebreaker rules called for the lowest score in four events to be thrown out to see who had the highest three-event total. Mustafina edged Raisman for bronze.

U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said she expects the sanctioning body to change the rules in the future.

"You should award a medal for both gymnasts," she said. "But rules are rules. I'm suspecting they will be taking away the tie-break for the next (Olympic cycle)."

How would that happen?

Karolyi said there has been talk about awarding quarter points, which would make ties less likely.

— Mark Long http://www.twitter.com/apmarklong



There was something off about Gabby Douglas when she arrived at the London Games. Her coach, Liang Chow, knew she was physically hurting. Team coordinator Martha Karolyi thought Douglas' focus was lacking. Karolyi knew something had to change.

"Chow and I had a big meeting and we had to address it," Karolyi says. "She turned it around and we worked and worked and made it better. ... There are key moments when you have to do something. That was a key moment."

What did Chow tell Douglas to turn her around? "Chow told me 'Everyone has pain so just go out there and why are you focused on that? You are at the Olympics so put that behind you and if you don't push it now then you don't have a chance."

She adds: "So we had this little bit of a talk and it definitely hyped me up."

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennafryer



My iPhone was vibrating nonstop. Facebook notifications poured in. My Twitter account lit up.

I, Peter Wilson, had won an Olympic gold medal.

Or, so it seemed.

It turns out that a British Olympic shooter — also named Peter Wilson — had won the double trap event.

Unsurprisingly, social networks exploded with posts after Peter R.R. Wilson (coincidentally my middle name also begins with an 'R') won Britain's fourth gold of the games.

Having your name as the top trend on Twitter is slightly surreal. After sarcastically tweeting that I had won a gold medal, someone asked me: "Wait? for what?"

Most people caught onto the joke — I am actually an AP sports intern — but I thoroughly enjoyed my 30 minutes of Twitter and Facebook fame.

—Peter Wilson, Twitter http://www.twitter.com/peterrwilson



Watch U.S. water polo player Tony Azevedo for two minutes. You'll see him backstroke, freestyle and breaststroke, all while trying to catch a ball with a British defender draped all over him.

Makes what Michael Phelps does in the pool seem rather ordinary.

The polo players have their own building at the London Games, right next door to their more celebrated counterparts.

The atmosphere in the arena is fantastic, with a packed house trading chants of "GB!" and "USA!" Azevedo had a hat trick before anyone else scored, but GB is making a game of it, 10-5 in the third quarter.

—Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APKrawczynski



"I kind of forgot about that. Man, that's awesome, that's definitely an amazing feeling. I forgot about that" — Gabby Douglas on becoming the first black gymnast to win the gold medal in women's all-around.

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennafryer



It was an Olympic scene like so many other celebrations by medal winners: fist-pumping, broad smiles, embraces. Except this team was from South Africa, and its members were both white and black.

The images of John Smith, a white rower, throwing his arms around black teammate Sizwe Ndlovu after their four-man crew won the gold Thursday in men's lightweight four rowing shows how far this country — once banned from the Olympics because of its apartheid government — has come.

After the South Africans edged a British crew by 0.25 seconds, Ndlovu leaped into the arms of each of his crew.

Back home, national pride is superseding lingering racial divisions as South Africans cheer on their Olympic athletes and their (so far) three gold medals. One black woman in Johannesburg describes watching on TV as white South African Chad le Clos challenged Michael Phelps in the 200-meter butterfly and beat the American champion by five-hundredths of a second for the gold medal.

"I stood up from my chair and I was shouting, 'Go! Go!," Mary Jane Maharana says.

Eighteen years after white rule collapsed in South Africa, racial tensions still exist. Unemployment is high and the economy is controlled mostly by whites. Nelson Mandela's efforts to unify South Africa under its Springboks rugby team during the 1995 World Cup notwithstanding, whites generally follow rugby and blacks tend to prefer soccer.

But these days, the Olympics are helping South Africans root together.

— Andrew O. Selsky in Johannesburg — Twitter http://twitter.com/andrewselsky


EDITOR'S NOTE — "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.