Monday, August 06, 2012

EYES ON LONDON: Lebron, Team USA face Argentina

Associated Press

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



Lithuania gave the Americans a scare in their last game. Now LeBron James and Co. face a team even more talented.

Team USA plays Argentina on Monday, looking to reassert themselves after nipping Lithuania 99-94 on Saturday. Carmelo Anthony says the game woke them up and they're ready to get back to dominating.

"It was a little bit tighter than what we expected," Anthony says. "Lithuania was focused, and it kind of caught us on our heels. We won't get caught on our heels again."

Argentina features NBA stars Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola, who lost one game to France in pool play.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter



Hours after winning a second consecutive Olympic gold in the 100 meters, Usain Bolt took a moment to tweet a message of support for injured Jamaican teammate Asafa Powell.

Bolt — whose handle is (at)usainbolt — wrote: "Respect bossy..hope u get well soon.. You started this Jamaican take over (at)officialasafa"

Powell, who held the 100 world record from 2005 until Bolt claimed it in 2008, pulled up with a groin injury Sunday and finished last in the dash. Bolt won in an Olympic-record 9.63 seconds.

What's not clear is whether Powell will be able to help Bolt and Jamaica try to defend their title in the 4x100 relay. That event's heats are Friday night.

"I got out of the starting blocks and stumbled," Powell said Sunday at the stadium. "I reinjured my groin and I couldn't push."

— Howard Fendrich — Twitter



More than half of Ireland's 23 Olympic medals have been won in the boxing ring. Better make that 24.

We don't know yet whether bantamweight John Joe Nevin will get gold, silver or bronze. But courtesy of his 19-13 quarterfinal win Sunday night versus Oscar Valdez of Mexico, he's certain to win Ireland's first medal of the London games — a fact that sent London's sweat-infused, pint-to-chest Irish House into a beer-spilling frenzy of hopping humanity.

"You'll never beat the Irish!" many in the crowd inside Ireland's official London Olympic venue chanted in the main bar and on the rooftop terrace after Nevin's victory was announced. Things were less insane in the basement, which has been decorated with 1950s wallpaper and comfy chairs to look like the living room set of cult 1990s Irish priest sitcom "Father Ted."

Irish fans screamed at the three big-screen TVs in the main bar as Nevin, ahead in the points, was floored by a solid Valdez blow to the ribs in the third, final round. Much of what was said at that moment cannot be reprinted in a family publication. Nevin scrambled to his feet to rural Irish-accented encouragements of "C'mon, ye boy ye!"

— Shawn Pogatchnik — Twitter



Fencing has captured fresh imaginations in London.

Whether it is the heavier thrusting epee sword, the light, whippy foil or the slashing saber, it appears to have intrigued the locals here in the same way it might have attracted attention in Athens at the first Olympiad.

Fencing has been at every Summer Olympics since the birth of the modern games in 1896.

In London, spectators — some just knee-high — spent the intervals between bouts on the final day of competition thrusting, slashing and stabbing at similarly amateurish opponents with bendy blue plastic swords just outside the arena.

"Allez!" came the calls from instructors or parents to start them off.

There were then lines of beginners — old and young — learning the basic forward lunge attack in formation ahead of the men's team foil finals. Back foot stable, forward with the front foot and thrust out the sword. That's fencing 101.

Once you got inside, the top-level bouts on the pistes — long, thin mats 14 meters (yards) long and 1.5 to 2 meters wide — were a mind-boggling flurry of lightning-fast strokes and swipes. At times, it was exquisite skill.

Attack, block and counter: lunge, parry and riposte.

— Gerald Imray — Twitter



The Jacksonville Jaguars ended practice in a most unusual manner on Sunday — they watched the wife of one of their players win Olympic gold.

Not only did the Jaguars allow cornerback Aaron Ross to leave the team and be in London to watch his wife in person at Olympic Stadium, but the entire team huddled back home to watch the race as well.

Sanya Richards-Ross didn't let them down, either — winning gold in the 400 meters.

"Well, that was a good way to finish practice," Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said. "That was a neat experience for the players. I don't think any of them knew the outcome."

Mularkey invited the 1,200 fans at practice to watch the tape of the race with the team. He had the Jaguars video department tape the race off of a live Internet showing, as NBC wasn't going to broadcast the race until later in the evening.

Aaron Ross is expected back with the team in a couple days.

"This brought us a little closer as a team," Mularkey said.

— Tim Reynolds — Twitter



American swimmer Tyler Clary says he's considering a career as a race car driver when he hangs up his Speedo.

The gold medalist in the 200-meter backstroke said he's attended races at the track in Fontana, Calif., and, last year, participated with an off-road racing team.

"I want to take a serious shot at being a professional race car driver after swimming's over," Clary said on Sunday night's "Wind Tunnel" program on Speed Channel.

"It's funny because when you initially tell people that, you get laughs, complete surprise, but I know that this is something I could be really good at and, like I said, I want to take a serious shot at it."

He attended the IndyCar race at Long Beach this year. He also spent time with the CEO of the Skip Barber Racing School and is trying to find a way to participate in some of their programs.

"There's also the possibility of a shootout in January where I could compete against some other regional hotshots," Clary said. "If I had a way of saying, as far as racing goes, this is what I'll be doing after swimming is over, I'd be in a Formula One car. But I'm the type of guy that's ... just get me in a car and I'll be happy. If it's an Indy car, a rally car, a stock car, off-road racing would be amazing, too. Any of that stuff. I just really have a passion for auto racing and I really want to drive."

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter



They're loud, they're proud and they certainly know how to move a crowd.

The England Supporters Band has been following Britain's athletes around the Olympic Park for the past few weeks banging drums and blasting their trumpets, lifting crowd spirits wherever they go.

The band was founded when leader John Hemmingham took a bugle into a soccer game in 1993 to support his favorite team, Sheffield Wednesday.

The band is made up of more than 20 musicians, but there are rarely more than four playing at any time.

At the London Olympics a drummer, a trumpeter, a trombone player and a euphonium player perform a selection of the more than 100 songs in their repertoire to maintain the crowd's support level.

"We never practice the songs," drummer Steve Holmes said.

But they do give some forethought to what they play. In the men's hockey game between Britain and Argentina, the band played "Rule Britannia," cheered on by the crowd.

"We've had many duels with Argentina," Holmes said. "We're a bit cheeky with them."

— William Haydon — Twitter



A plastic bottle was thrown on the track of the men's 100-meter final about a second before the start, landing about 10 meters behind the runners.

Scotland Yard said a suspect is being held on suspicion of causing a public nuisance. Police said the 40-year-old man was heard shouting abusive language before he threw the bottle. His name was not immediately released.

Several runners said they didn't know about the bottle until reporters told them about it afterward.

The bottle bounced a few times and came to rest in the lane occupied by Jamaica's Yohan Blake, who finished second in the race.

"I was so focused, I didn't see anything," Blake said.



"Follow me, lads."

And with that, the volunteer, whose identity will remain our secret, took off running. One of my AP colleagues and I had just missed a bus to East London University to cover the U.S. men's basketball practice and were going to have to wait at least 30 minutes for the next one. Seeing — and hearing — our frustration, the kind gentleman hustled outside the busy terminal at the media press center, and was able to stop the bus before it left the Olympic Park area.

Running into the street, he flagged down the driver — a performance worthy of a gold medal.

I could only offer a handshake and my thanks to the stranger, who probably violated a half dozen rules and laws to get us on the bus.

"So naughty," the smiling driver said as we boarded.

— Tom Withers — Twitter



Water polo: It's like handball with added water.

I stopped by the water polo pool and the Copper Box that hosts handball at the Olympic Park today and was struck by how similar the two sports are. Water seems like the only difference.

The other thing that hit me. How tough both sports are.

I've never seen so many women sporting black eyes as I did at the polo pool.

— Mike Corder — Twitter



World champion Yohan Blake said he's not disappointed about his second place finish in the 100-meter dash, behind his teammate and training partner, Usain Bolt.

"I came close tonight. It has been really good running with the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt," Blake said.

"I'm not disappointed. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You never know what can happen. I think the 200 meters will be interesting."

Blake also hinted that he might run the 4x400 relay: "You never know. The finals. You never know."

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter



Sometimes, finishing third has its benefits.

Greg Searle was part of an eight-man British rowing crew that won bronze, a disappointment for the 40-year-old, who came out of retirement in hopes of replicating his gold-winning performance in Barcelona two decades ago. Searle was finding himself consigned to a footnote in a Great Britain team that has been collecting golds as quick as it can paddle.

But as Searle's Twitter feed — (at)GregSearle2012 — demonstrated Sunday, he's just had an Olympic brush with greatness.

"Look who I made friends with at the handball," he offers his followers in a teasing caption to a photo link.

Click! And there Searle is, displaying a Cheshire cat grim, arm in arm with ... Kate Middleton, a.k.a. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

See the photo here:

— Shawn Pogatchnik — Twitter



Usain Bolt thinks London has done a great job with the games, calling Britain, "a wonderful place."

And yes, the McDonald's over here tastes just as good as it does everywhere else. Bolt said he's had "a few nuggets, I'm not going to lie." He also had a wrap from his favorite fast-food place as part of his pre-race fuel.

"It was healthy, so don't judge me," he said, drawing laughs.

Bolt will be collecting his 100-meter medal on Monday, the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's independence from Britain.

"I wanted to give Jamaica a great birthday present, and I think that's a good start," he said. "I'm sure it will be a wonderful feat for all of the people in Jamaica to stand up and sing the national anthem."

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter




"I'm one step closer to being a legend." — Usain Bolt on winning the 100 meters in 9.63 seconds, a new Olympic record.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter



It's been called the longest sprint — a lot can happen in the 400 between the starting gun and the finish line.

Sanya Richards-Ross was behind Amantle Montsho of Botswana as they made the turn, but the tiny American runner accelerated through the stretch to win the Olympic 400-meter race Sunday.

Richards-Ross's time of 49.55 edged out the defending champion, Christine Ohuruogu of Britain, who also deployed a strong kick to finish in 49.70. American DeeDee Trotter won the bronze.

It was the first U.S. gold in track and field at the London Games — and it was a long time coming for Richards-Ross, who sobbed at the Beijing Bird's Nest Stadium when she finished third in 2008.

— Sheila Norman-Culp — Twitter


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:


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