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An unintimidated sprint

2012-07-26 19:53
Olympic flame (File)

London - Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavour and details of the games to you:


With two of the fastest sprinters on the planet, Jamaica is everyone's bet to come home from London with another major haul of gold. But Tyson Gay says he likes the chances of the Americans in the 400-meter relay.

"I do think we have a hell of a team as well," he says. "I do believe if we get the sticks around good, we're going to be hard to beat."


It's not extra pressure doing your best in front of royalty if you already know them very well.

"They're my family. It's not weird," British eventing team member Zara Phillips says about riding in front of her first cousins Princes William and Henry and William's wife Kate, who are due to watch the Olympic equestrian competition at Greenwich Park starting on Saturday.

Nor would Phillips divulge if she got riding advice from her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, an equestrian enthusiast.

"Do you think I would tell you that?" she says, laughing.

Phillips is the daughter of Britain's Princess Anne, who also competed in eventing at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.


London's only evening paper, the London Evening Standard, this afternoon devotes its front page to the opening ceremony rehearsal from last night, its headline reading "This epic time for London" with a photo of the fireworks set off over the stadium.

The Evening Standard was launched in 1859 and cost one penny. These days it is a free paper handed out at rail stations and key London hotspots. More than 600 000 are distributed in the London area every day. The paper can be tweaked slightly with each run, the edition one of the day being call the 'West End Final.'


The first US swimmer to compete at five Olympics has some advice for Ryan Lochte and anyone else who wants to beat Michael Phelps: Keep quiet.

"If I was his competitor, I wouldn't say a word," Dara Torres says.

Phelps' duel with US teammate Lochte will be the main event in swimming at the Olympics. Torres says any kind of trash talking would only help 14-time gold medalist Phelps.

"[It] works to Michael's advantage because he takes that very seriously and he uses that against his competitor," she says.

Torres adds that "people like showdowns," but the teammates need to remember that their battle "stays in the water".

Torres competed at five Olympics, winning 12 medals overall. She also weighed in on whether Phelps could reconsider his decision to retire after London and end the most successful Olympic swimming career ever.

"You never know. It's not going to change immediately. He's probably like 'Good, I'm done and I can do other things with my life.' But you know you miss it. You have to remember we spend so many hours doing this and you have that sadness and something missing inside of you."


Driving through any busy city can be daunting, slow and frustrating. In London you have to pay for the privilege.

Most people wanting to drive through the central Congestion Zone must pay £10 between the hours of 07:00 and 18:00. Monday through Friday. Cameras read the license plates to check that you have pre-paid. If you forget and don't pay, expect a letter in the mail with a fine of up to £120.


It's been a long wait for doping officials in Scotland - because it's Ramadan.

Morocco coach Pim Verbeek says two of his players found it "more or less impossible" to provide a urine sample after the team's 2-2 draw with Honduras in Glasgow on Thursday. The game was at noon - and the players hadn't had anything to eat or drink since 02:30.

The coach says the players asked if a bed could be arranged so they could sleep at the stadium, possibly until sunset when their daily fast ends.

Nine of the team's players are observing the Muslim fasting month. Because the days are long in Scotland, that means they are eating from 21:30 to 02:30.


They're big, and they're a heavy handful. Not that most of us will ever get to hold one.

This year's Olympic medals are the largest and heaviest of any summer games in Olympic history. Weighing in at 400g , the 2012 gold medal is twice as heavy as its counterpart at the 2008 Beijing games. Measuring 85mm across, this year's medals are the largest-ever in diameter as well.

British artist David Watkins designed the medals, which include, like all previous summer games medals, the iconic Greek goddess of victory, Nike (probably not the first image you associate with the word).

The British company Rio Tinto mined the gold, silver and copper used in the medals from its mines in Mongolia and Salt Lake City, Utah. The gold medals in this year's Olympics are actually mostly silver, with gold making up only 1.34% of the medal. The Royal Mint produced the finished products in Wales.

While they await their victors, the medals are being securely stored in the Tower of London, known for hundreds of years as a pretty serviceable place to lock things up.


He can hear the spikes and serves, but however much he tries to take a peek, British Prime Minister David Cameron won't catch a glimpse of the beach volleyball contests due to be staged right next to his home at London's famous No. 10 Downing Street.

Ex-leader Tony Blair once joked it was a "masterstroke" to hold the competition at Horse Guards Parade, a storied square in the heart of central London, which sits right next to the British leader's residence.

But Cameron says Thursday that a temporary 15 000-seat arena built for the matches has completely obscured his view.

"There's no direct line of sight," says Cameron.


A woman dressed as a parrot is passing out literature on being vegan. Did you know that Carl Lewis and gold medal swimmer Murray Rose are vegans?


Is London prepared to pull off the Olympic Games smoothly? Is that what Mitt Romney's asking?

The Republican presidential candidate is causing a stir in Britain by raising the question. The former Massachusetts governor is visiting British political leaders Thursday while trying to show he has what it takes to represent America on the world stage.

But instead of highlighting ties with America's staunchest ally, Romney may have embarrassed the Brits instead. Romney said in an interview that it's unclear whether Britain can overcome the issues that have dogged its final preparations for the Games.

Leaving a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Romney said he expects the games will be successful.

Cameron says Romney and others will "see beyond doubt that Britain can deliver."


Do Brits simply not believe in air conditioning? Or is it just never needed?

"Man, it's hot in here," said US boxer Claressa "T-Rex" Shields at training near the Olympic village. It was a seasonable 26.5°C on the street, but far, far hotter inside the sweltering gymnasium.

Will it be this hot for boxing's main event? Shields, a 17-year-old from Flint, Michigan, was asked.

"I sure hope not," she smiled.


"The cherry on top of a pile of cherries." - US fencer and gold medallist Mariel Zagunis, on being the flag bearer for opening ceremony.

She says she's bursting with pride that she got the job and women have outnumbered men on the team for the first time.


Talking of doping, AP's Jenna Fryer just had a close encounter with an ad that's arguably a little wide of the mark. It's from Transport for London. Check out the arms.

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. Get even more AP updates from the Games.

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