EYES ON LONDON: Swimmers remember a champion

AP News
Posted: Jul 28, 2012 5:07 AM
EYES ON LONDON: Swimmers remember a champion

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:



The memory of a late swimming champion looms large at the Olympic pool, especially as his best event — the 100-meter breaststroke — approaches Sunday.

Alexander Dale Oen of Norway died in April at age 26 from heart disease — months before he was to be the leading hope for Norwegian swimming gold in London. He won the world championship in the 100-meter breaststroke last July.

Some swimmers said they were dedicating their swims to Dale Oen.

"We're carrying him with us all the time," countrywoman Sara Nordenstam said following her heat in the 400-meter individual medley. She said the swimmers will honor him by "swimming fast and remembering him and remember everything that he taught us and go for the goals that we set together."

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



The opening ceremony, particularly the queen's debut as a Bond girl, earned several positive reviews.

"I was worried that there was too much self-parody, that the world might be laughing at us," wrote columnist Giles Coren in The Times of London. "But they were laughing with us. They were silently awed."

He wasn't wrong.

"Often seen as reserved and unapproachable, the Queen changed all that alongside James Bond," wrote German newspaper Die Welt.

The 86-year-old Elizabeth greeted Bond actor Daniel Craig at Buckingham Palace and then appeared to fly to the stadium before parachuting to the ground. Moments later, the real Elizabeth appeared with husband Prince Philip to be greeted by the crowd.

The sequence has already provided the defining images of the games, according to Sydney's Daily Telegraph in Australia, where the queen also reigns.

"A few hundred years ago director Danny Boyle could have been sent to the Tower for even suggesting such treason," the newspaper said. "But as if to show how far England and the monarchy have come in that time, Her Majesty not only let Boyle get away with it. She was actually in on the joke."

— Rob Harris — Twitter http://twitter.com/RobHarris



It's a cover-up. The cool London evening forced beach volleyball stars to forgo the traditional bikini attire for warmer clothes.

Two-time defending gold medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor of the United States wore long-sleeved shirts on top of bikini bottoms for their 21-18, 21-19 victory over Natalie Cook and Tasmin Hinchley, a match that started at 11 p.m. Saturday when the temperature was 63 degrees. The Australians wore long pants, with T-shirts under their bikini tops.

"It's cold," Walsh Jennings said, with a "what do you expect" look on her face. "It's 11 p.m. in London."

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



Queen Elizabeth II returned to Olympic Park for an encore performance after her film debut as the latest Bond Girl, riding to the top of the 377-foot (115-meter) Orbit tower and visiting with fawning British Olympians in the athletes village.

Dressed in a royal blue silk dress, crepe coat and matching hat, the queen could be heard remarking at the views of the London skyline and countryside. She wore a brooch given to her in 1948 — the last time London hosted the Olympics and four years before her accession to the throne.

"For her to come through and meet the athletes, and see where we're living, it was amazing," said Rose Anderson, 24, a member of the women's basketball team.

"She went inside one of the athletes' bedrooms and chatted to us. It was just awesome, especially after last night," she said.

— Shawn Pogatchnik — Twitter http://twitter.com/ShawnPogatchnik



Outspoken U.S. goaltender Hope Solo isn't happy about former player Brandi Chastain's commentary on NBC, and she's tweeting about it.

At one point, Chastain pointed out that a defender's responsibilities are: "Defend. Win the ball. And then keep possession. And that's something that (U.S. defender) Rachel Buehler actually needs to, I think, improve on in this tournament."

After the game, Solo rattled off four tweets about Chastain. She told Chastain to "lay off commentating about defending" and goalkeeping "until you get more educated" and "the game has changed from a decade ago."

"I feel bad 4 our fans that have 2 push mute," tweeted Solo, adding that she likes NBC soccer announcer Arlo White.

Chastain is one of the top all-time defenders for the U.S. team. A spokesman for NBC said the network would have no comment and that Chastain was unavailable for comment.

— Joseph White — Twitter http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP



Those aren't pearly whites sparkling when U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte breaks out a smile. They're diamonds.

Lochte popped in his grillz — diamond-studded mouth jewelry — for the victory ceremony after winning a gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley.

And Lochte is hoping to win some more medals to go with his precious stones.

"This is my year," Lochte said. "I know it and I feel it, because I've put in hard work. I've trained my butt off for four years ... and there's no better way to start this Olympics off than getting gold."

— Paul Newberry — Twitter www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963



A choreographer is unhappy that his somber opening-ceremony segment was bypassed by NBC, which instead showed American viewers an interview with swimmer Michael Phelps.

The segment was described as an "honest expression of the fear of approaching death." But some in the British press have interpreted it as being a tribute to victims of bomb attacks in July 2005 that killed 52 commuters and four suicide bombers on London's transit network. During the BBC live coverage of the ceremony, commentator Hazel Irvine made the connection while the dance was taking place: "The excitement of that moment in Singapore seven years ago when London won the games was tempered with great sorrow the very next day," when the terror attacks took place.

NBC said it had no indication that the segment was a reference to the terrorist attacks. Said choreographer Akram Khan, a Londoner: "I am really sad that I couldn't show the work in America, and that really upsets me, because I don't think it's any more or less than the other pieces. It brings to mind the question ... that maybe it's too truthful."

NBC aired the ceremony on a tape-delayed basis and made editing changes.

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



Algerian boxer Mohamed Ouadahi won his opening Olympic bout without throwing a punch when his Georgian opponent, Merab Turkadze, couldn't make weight this morning.

The thing is, amateur boxers are still required to climb into the ring to get their hands raised even when they win by walkover. Ouadahi wore a grin when the ExCeL crowd — not knowing this weird tradition — booed the Georgian's unexplained absence and then sarcastically roared for Ouadahi's easiest victory.

Ouadahi laughed and flexed his right bicep in appreciation.

— Greg Beacham — Twitter http://twitter.com/gregbeacham



This from AP Television Writer David Bauder just now:

"An opening ceremony from the mother country with a Beatle, a queen and Mr. Bean proved irresistible for viewers in the United States, with a record-setting 40.7 million people watching NBC's first night of summer Olympics coverage. The Nielsen company said Saturday that London's opener was the most-watched opening ceremony of any summer or winter Olympics. It topped the previous mark of 39.8 million people who watched the 1996 Atlanta Olympics begin, and the 34.9 million who watched the colorful first night from Beijing four years ago."

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



Everyone's warned to silence mobile phones at press conferences with medal winners. So where was that rap tune coming from at Ryan Lochte's news conference after he won gold in the men's 400 meter individual medley?

From Lochte's mobile.

The ringtone? "I have a lot of them," Lochte said. "Probably something from Lil Wayne."

Steve Futterman of CBS, whose question was interrupted, cracked, "If you win a gold, you get to leave your phone on."

— Warren Levinson — Twitter http://twitter.com/warrenlevinson



Perhaps the most stunning outcome of the day was Olympic golden boy Michael Phelps finishing fourth and out of the medal hunt in the 400 IM.

Phelps is trying to turn the page, and do it quickly because he has a busy slate at these London games.

He tweets: "Not pleased with my race tonight at all... But tom is a new day! And a new race!!"

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


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, and get even more AP updates from the Games here: http://twitter.com/AP_Sports