EYES ON LONDON: Happy dances, Gator pride, Twitter

AP News
Posted: Aug 09, 2012 8:19 AM
EYES ON LONDON: Happy dances, Gator pride, Twitter

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:



Running, jumping and swimming are all fine, but who will win Olympic gold for celebratory dancing?

These games have offered some shining examples, from boxer Claressa Shields' combination jig-and-fist bump to Serena Williams' "Crip Walk" on center court at Wimbledon.

My bronze dancing medal goes to Kenyan runner Ezekiel Kemboi, who celebrated steeplechase gold with a hip-swiveling, arm-shaking peacock dance.

Silver goes to German discus thrower Robert Harting. On winning gold, the behemoth roared, ripped his shirt to shreds like the Incredible Hulk, grabbed a German flag, ran a lap of the track over the hurdles and then tried to wrench one of the burning torches from the Olympic cauldron. Not so much a dance as a force of nature.

The gold medal is awarded to — who's surprised? — Usain Bolt, for his supremely confident response to winning the 200 meters on Thursday. The self-proclaimed living legend glided across the finish line, placed an index finger to his lips in a silent reproach to those who had doubted him, then dropped to the track and did some push-ups.

The crowd went wild.

— Jill Lawless http://Twitter.com/JillLawless


For anyone who missed the U.S. women's eight rowing to a second straight Olympic gold medal last week, there was another chance. Sort of.

The women took to the water in paddleboats for an appearance Friday in London's Regents Park, dressed in USA gear and wearing the gold medals around their necks.

"You get to see us now!" Susan Francia said with a smile before getting into the boat.

— Janie McCauley — Twitter http://twitter.com/janiemccAP



A television crew from NBC affiliate WTHR in Indianapolis has been toting around its meteorologist for the entire games. Or, at least, one version of its meteorologist.

The crew is trying to get as many athletes and celebrities as possible to pose with a cutout of Chuck Lofton. On Thursday, entertainer Ryan Seacrest went along with the gag.

Looking into the television camera as he held out the miniature picture of Lofton, the diminutive Seacrest told the meteorologist, "Chuck, you might be bigger than me."

Check out Flat Chuck with swimmer Allison Schmidt here: http://pic.twitter.com/A5T27mkU

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



Claressa Shields' hometown of Flint, Michigan, has been celebrating this week after the teen boxing sensation punched her way to an Olympic gold medal.

Mayor Dayne Walling and City Councilman Bryant Nolden invited city residents to a local bar to watch the 17-year-old's gold medal match against Nadezda Torlopova of Russia. Shields won the middleweight bout 19-12

Shields' father, Clarence, was among the about 200 people who attended the free viewing event in downtown Flint. He took to a knee to pray after watching his daughter receive her medal.

The mayor said "the atmosphere was electric" as people watched a young product of the struggling community's schools and youth sports programs reach the peak of her craft.

— David N. Goodman — Twitter: http://twitter.com/davidngoodman



One year ago, Woolwich was ablaze. The southeast London town was consumed by summer riots that destroyed shops, horrified locals and left Olympics organisers aghast.

Now the only flames burning in Woolwich are those of the Olympic cauldron, beamed from a giant TV screen across the tranquil town square.

It's a world away from last year's violence. Residents sit on clipped lawns, surrounded by floral borders, captivated by the live broadcast of games events in their back yard. Hundreds of spectators have gathered here to cheer Usain Bolt on.

On the face of it, multi-cultural Woolwich is a shining example of what organizers hope the Olympic Games will bring to London's most deprived areas.

But there's also fear that the economic cracks and despair have only been papered over.

When the inspiring Olympic athletes go home and the London 2012 banners come down, will there be enough hope left so the youths who felt compelled to smash windows and raid businesses don't do so again?

Stay tuned.

— Toby Goode — Twitter http://twitter.com/tobyjgoode



If athletes from the University of Florida comprised their own country in the Olympics, they'd give many nations a run for their money.

Gator athletes had another big day Thursday, when triple jumpers Christian Taylor and Will Claye won gold and silver, soccer players Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts were part of the U.S. women's gold medal winning squad and Melanie Booth of Canada got bronze on her national team's effort.

The triple jumpers, Wambach and swimmers Ryan Lochte and Conor Dwyer reveled in the Gator success on Friday and posed for pictures together doing the trademark Gator chomp.

"Gator nation is the best," says Lochte, winner of five swimming medals in London. "We've worked hard. I've personally seen most of the athletes working out. We push our bodies to the limit and that's why we did so well."

He continued: "And you know what? We're like a big family so we always help each other out. No matter what sport it is, we come together and work toward the goal."

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



On Friday morning, the USOC loaded a double-decker bus with American medalists for a television appearance. Aboard the bus were the gold medal women's soccer and water polo teams, decathletes Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee and swimmers Ryan Lochte and Conor Dwyer.

In otherwards, lots and lots of American talent.

"It's crazy being here with all these medalists. And being with guys like Ryan, who has five, it makes it seem like one isn't all that much. But it's been such an experience. It's just been a joyride," says Dwyer, a member of Michael Phelps' record-breaking gold medalist relay team.

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



As the London Games wind to a close, Rio is ramping up.

Leonardo Gryner, head of the Rio organizers, says they are "transforming the whole city" for the 2016 Summer Games.

"All of the construction is on time," Gryner says. "All of the sports venues will be completed by 2015 in time for full test events for each competition."

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



The U.S. women's soccer team was gushing with goodwill on Friday, a day after beating Japan in the Olympic final.

The team avenged a deeply-felt loss to Japan in the 2011 World Cup, but midfielder Lauren Cheney said there was no animosity heading into the rematch.

"On the gold medal stand, we were all just saying how much we love Japan and how much fun they are to play," Cheney said. "We have so much respect for them and they always play us well and play a great game."

But their admiration for the Japanese was nothing compared to their own camaraderie.

"There's so much love, we tell each other that all the time but it's so genuine and it's so much fun to be around each other," Cheney said. "To know that's our last time to play, we are just going to enjoy it as much as we can."

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



So, no lazing around watching daytime TV for Michael Phelps.

"First workout in retirement ... Painful but good way to end the day after 3hours of beach volleyball!!!" the 18-time Olympic gold medalist tweeted Friday.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb



The gender balance at the Summer Olympics is changing.

The International Olympic Committee says Thursday that 44 percent of the athletes competing in London are women. At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, women made up only 24 percent of participants.

The London games are also the first Olympics where all 204 nations have sent a female athlete.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb



Usain Bolt says the two golds he's won in London makes him a legend. So what happens if he adds another?

One night after becoming the first man to win the 100 and 200 in back-to-back Olympics, Bolt will get started toward a quest for a sixth career gold medal in the preliminary round of the 4x100 on Friday.

Bolt won all three events in Beijing, but the Jamaicans could have a tougher time this year. Asafa Powell is injured, meaning Warren Weir will likely take his place. That's not a bad backup. Weir won bronze in the 200 on Thursday.

"Usain Bolt is truly an inspiration to everybody across the world," Weir says. "And I must say, it's well-deserved."

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



American soccer coach Pia Sundhage didn't have the gold medal on her neck for more than two hours before the questions about her future with the women's national team started to come.

Her home nation of Sweden is rumored to be after her services, but the coach says she isn't ready to think about that. She calls the U.S. job "the best job in the world."

"It's all about timing," she says. "Right now I have no clue what's going on next year. But I promised myself to enjoy the moment."

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



Kerri Walsh Jennings isn't wasting any time breaking in her third beach volleyball gold medal.

Walsh Jennings dropped her medal on the cement the morning after she captured her third straight Olympic title with partner Misty May-Treanor. The medal was scratched in two spots along the rim.

No big deal, Walsh Jennings says. With two little ones running around at home, things have a tendency to get dinged.

She says she won't consider tucking her medals away in a safe place.

"People find inspiration in it," she says. "I'm blessed that I can share it."

— Jimmy Golen — Twitter http://twitter.com/jgolen



The water may be frigid and the weather far from Mediterranean, but yachts are cruising to London for exclusive Olympics VIP parties.

Nearly a dozen super yachts have come to berths in Canary Wharf and nearby Royal Victoria Docks — the biggest being the Octopus, a 413-foot (126-meter) vessel owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the 10th-largest private yacht in the world.

The yacht has two helipads, jet skis and room for a 50-member crew.

Expect to see paparazzi shots of celebrities, athletics, dignitaries and maybe even royals climbing on board for the invitation-only events.

"It's going to be a big party, no doubt, and we expect those to take place either this evening (Friday) or over the next couple of days before the Olympics finish finally on Sunday," says Benjamin Sutton, director of communications for MGMT Yachts and Concierge.

— Paisley Dodds — Twitter http://twitter.com/paisleydodds



Lebron James is having a great 2012.

Consider the past few months: he was named the NBA regular-season MVP for a third time, the NBA finals MVP and he won the elusive championship he needed to validate his place among the greats.

Now he is only two wins away from adding to his collection of awards.

The Americans, who play Argentina in the semifinals on Friday, are the favorites to take home their second straight Olympic gold.

James' stellar year comes two years after his infamous decision to broadcast that he was leaving Cleveland and taking his "talents" to Miami.

He says negative backlash from "The Decision" has changed him, but that he's never felt better.

— Tom Withers — Twitter http://twitter.com/twithersAP



It's a well-trod path to Abbey Road.

One of the world's most famous crosswalks is drawing hordes of Olympic visitors. The three-block walk between the St. John's Wood Tube stop and Abbey Road is filled with pedestrians from Japan, Canada, the U.S. and other countries.

Once there, they dodge cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses and bikes zooming through the white-striped crosswalk to recreate the Beatles' famous 1969 "Abbey Road" album cover featuring John, Paul, George and Ringo walking away from Abbey Road Studios. The band broke up the following year.

Tourists take turns posing in the crosswalk, asking other visitors to snap their photo, which requires risking one's life to stand in the middle of the road for the best angle.

Some motorists screech to a halt and wait until the photos are taken. Others impatiently honk their horns.

Another popular photo spot in the elegant residential neighborhood is the front of the recording studio, where graffiti covers the fence posts. Unlike other street signs hung low, the Abbey Road signs are positioned high on the walls of buildings to discourage souvenir hunters.

— Beth Harris — Twitter http://twitter.com/bethharrisap and Paul Newberry — Twitter http://twitter.com/pnewberry1963



When Usain Bolt won the 200 meters, the Twitter world went nuts — so much so that the Jamaican speedster generated another kind of Olympic record.

"Record alert!" Twitter said in a tweet. "(at)usainbolt sets a new Olympic Games conversation record with over 80,000 TPM for his 200m victory."

TPM is Twitterspeak for tweets per minute.

Bolt, who became the only man with two Olympic titles in the 200, has never been shy about his skills.

His Twitter profile says he is "The most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen."

Now he has a Twitter record of sorts to add to his "living legend" contention.

— Peter Prengaman in New York — Twitter http://twitter.com/peterprengaman


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.