EYES ON LONDON: China nervously eyes pingpong gold

By The 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:

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USA TOPS CANADA 4-3

It took a full 90 minutes, then another full 30 minutes of overtime, but the U.S. women came up with a last-minute header to beat Canada 4-3 at the London Olympics.

The win sends the U.S. women into the gold medal game against Japan.

Canadian captain Christine Sinclair had a hat trick to propel the two teams into overtime. Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. put two in the net and Abby Wambach deftly scored on a penalty kick for a handball.

In overtime, USA’s Sydney Leroux let loose a long cross from the right that Alex Morgan drove home.

Canada hasn’t beaten the United States since 2001.

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

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TABLE TENNIS TENSION

How close did China’s men come to getting beaten in Monday’s table tennis semifinal against Germany? So close that coach Liu Guoliang made a confession.

“I was very nervous during the match,” he said.

That’s a big deal. Liu doesn’t reveal much, particularly to non-Chinese reporters.

Gold-medal singles champion Zhang Jike also acknowledged having butterflies in a match China eventually won 3-1. Zhang also dropped his guard when pressed.

“I was nervous, but not especially nervous,” said Zhang, who looked down and sent messages on his phone while taking questions. “This is normal for any human. We all get nervous.”

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

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OUCH!

Germany’s Stephan Feck felt the agony of defeat at the Olympic diving pool.

During the second round of the men’s 3-meter springboard preliminaries Monday, Feck attempted a forward 3 1/2 somersault and was supposed to hold his legs tight against his body.

Problem was, he lost the grip on one leg, which sent him spinning wildly as the crowd gasped. Feck landed flat on his back with an awful thud, his coach leaping up to make he was OK.

Feck climbed out of the pool without any apparent problems, receiving all zeroes from the judges. After performing one more dive — and doing much better — he dropped out of the competition.

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

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TAPE IT UP

Does my writing seem a little crisper today? My verbs a bit snappier?

It’s probably because I am wearing Kineseo tape, an athletic tape popular with beach volleyball players and other Olympic competitors.

American Kerri Walsh Jennings has a black spider pattern on her right shoulder, German Katrin Holtwick has thin blue strips from the top of her bikini to her bottom, and other athletes at Horse Guards Parade use it in a variety of colors and patterns.

Mei Brownfield, a physical therapist working with the American teams, cut off a piece of the plain black stuff for me to try. Stretching the tape to twice its length, I put it on my right shoulder.

I have a vague sense that something’s there but it is neither invigorating nor annoying. Brownfield tells me it has different effects — it can activate the muscle or relax it, depending on how it’s applied. But she can’t tell me how to put it on so I write better.

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

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DOPING CASE

Defending Olympic 50K race walk champion Alex Schwazer has been caught doping and will miss the London Games. The 27-year-old Schwazer had been due to defend his 2008 Olympic title in the 50-kilometer walk on Sunday.

Schwazer won gold at the Beijing Games in an Olympic record time of 3 hours, 37 minutes, 9 seconds.

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THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTOS

The 100-meter sprint may be over in a flash, but it’s the race that can define a news agency’s entire coverage of an Olympics.

So the preparation is long and meticulous.

Tony Hicks, AP’s regional photo editor for Europe and Africa, admits he had “a few butterflies” in the runup to Sunday night’s men’s final, but said: “That shows you care, it shows you’re completely focused.”

Here’s how we lined up on the night and how fast we were out of the blocks:

— As well as 18 photographers, AP had 20 remote cameras placed in every imaginable shooting position. Photo editors handled 17Gb of photos, or roughly 3,500 frames. These also had to be captioned and transmitted.

— Each photographer was given an individual brief. The key positions — head-on, overhead and infield — knew what they had to do.

— Less than three minutes after Usain Bolt crossed the finish line, AP had two photos out on the wire. Two minutes later, we had seven out.

— Tony Hicks

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LOOK HOOP’S BACK

Last time they met, Wu Chengzhang and Lionel Price were battling on a basketball court at London’s 1948 Olympics.

Now Price, 85, is acting as tour guide, leading his 88-year-old former rival around Britain’s capital to see the vast changes the last 64 years have brought.

Wu, from Shanghai, was among just 33 athletes who travelled from China to compete at the post-World War II games — and saw his team crash out in the quarter finals.

After writing to Britain’s ambassador to China to ask if he could return to watch his successors in action, diplomats helped to organize an emotional return to London for Wu — and seats in the basketball area.

But British kindness didn’t extend to the result. Britain beat China 90-58 as Wu watched.

- David Stringer – Twitter http://twitter.com/david_stringer

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HANGING OUT WITH KATE

What do you do when the Duchess of Cambridge sits down next to you at an Olympic event? If you’re British gymnast Kristian Thomas, you sit up straight and try to remember all those manners your mother taught you.

Thomas was sitting in the second row of the O2 Arena on Sunday ready to watch teammates Louis Smith and Max Whitlock compete in the pommel horse finals when a security guard told him Kate Middleton wanted to hang out.

“It was fantastic,” Thomas said. “She was really easy to talk to. We talked about the pommel final and some of the elements and what’s good and what’s bad. She was quite enthusiastic about it.”

Thomas added the Duchess was “nervous” while Smith competed but was thrilled when he won silver and Whitlock earned bronze. When asked if he asked Kate for sister Pippa Middleton’s phone number, Thomas just laughed and said, “I think my girlfriend would mind.”

— Will Graves – twitter www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

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HAPPY TWEDDLE

Beth Tweddle is Britain’s gymnastic darling, even though she’d always come up empty in the Olympics.

Not anymore.

Tweddle picked up her first Olympic medal Monday when she took bronze on the bars, her signature event.

“It’s the best feeling in the world. It’s the one medal that was missing from my collection and I’ve always said I don’t care what color it is,” said Tweddle, a two-time world champion on bars.

“I tried to say it didn’t matter if I didn’t medal, but I’ve got every other title to my name. I can now say I would have been devastated walking away with no medal.”

Tweddle, who is 27, is now headed into retirement. But she said she won’t immediately stop training because walking away cold turkey would be too much for her to handle.

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

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HIGHS AND LOWS

There were mixed emotions Monday for Russia’s top two gymnasts.

Aliya Mustafina collected her first gold of the games by winning the bars. But teammate Victoria Komova was again in tears after failing to medal.

“100 percent disappointed,” Komova, the reigning world champion on bars, said of her Olympic experience in London.

She said her routine had been good, but her feet twice hit the bar.

Mustafina didn’t think her teammate was a threat for the gold. “She wasn’t the strongest contender to start with, so I think the judges were already perceiving her in that way,” Mustafina said.

It was Mustafina’s third medal of the games. She got silver in team completion and bronze in all-around.

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

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BOLT FLYING – ON TWITTER

All the years of hard work have paid off for Usain Bolt.

The Jamaican has joined an elite group in London, not just defending his 100-meter title, but passing one million Twitter followers the day after winning the showpiece race of the Olympics.

“Big up Twitter fans – one million and counting…,” tweeted the sprinter who describes himself as “the most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen” on his profile.

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

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BOTTLE THROWING CASE

The man arrested for throwing a bottle onto the track ahead of the men’s 100-meter sprint on Sunday has pleaded not guilty to charges of using threatening words, disorderly behavior and harassment.

The suspect has been identified as Ashley Gill-Webb, 34, from Leeds, northern England.

He denies throwing the bottle; the prosecution has asked for him to be banned from any Olympic venue and Olympic Park.

— Masha Macpherson

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QUICKQUOTE: TENNIS BELONGS

“Tennis really belongs in the Olympics … Many great tennis players deserve to have a medal around their necks, deserve to come and compete for the biggest prize for an athlete, which is a gold medal” — Serena Williams, winner of two tennis gold medals at the London Olympics.

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

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QUICKQUOTE: ADMIRING PHELPS

“Michael Phelps is the ultimate Olympian for me. To see what he has done in his career is unheard of, he’s taken things to a whole new level” — double gold-medal winner Serena Williams talking about Phelps’ career haul of 18 gold medals.

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

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QUICKQUOTE: GABBY DOUGLAS

“I think toward the end of the Olympics you get mentally and physically tired, just like drained. I try to fight through as much as I can,” Gabby Douglas after finishing last in the bar finals.

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

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BOLT TAPE-DELAY

The International Olympic Committe is refusing to get drawn into the debate about whether Americans should be seeing more action live on TV.

NBC chose not to show the men’s 100 meters sprint final live on Sunday. It was aired hours later on tape delay.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams says “it’s certainly not for us to tell them how to reach their audience.”

NBC has exclusive American rights to broadcast the London Games. It struck a $2.2 billion deal with the IOC in 2003, which included rights to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

— Graham Dunbar — Twitter: www.twitter.com/gdunbarap

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QUEUES, QUEUES EVERYWHERE

They are queuing for food. They are queuing for the merchandise stores. They are even queuing to get into the grassy areas in the hope of claiming a small patch of grass for a seat.

The Olympics Park is buzzing.

Organizers say that in the first week more than 1 million spectators visited Olympic Park with over 5 million people passing through the gates of all the official venues.

But it’s not just venues that people are flooding.

On Saturday, when Britain achieved six gold medals in one day, LOCOG says its website drew 25 million visits. On the same day, there were about 300,000 people watching events on big screens in city centers around Britain.

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

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EVEN BOLT HAD TO QUEUE

About to run in the 100 meters? Doesn’t matter — get in line.

Usain Bolt was left baffled by London’s rigid security rules on Sunday night as he made his way to the stadium for his race.

“I was in the line, we were waiting to run and the guy was telling me to line up straight,” Bolt said. “I was like, ‘Really? We’re about to run and they are going to make me stand in a straight line?’ There are just some weird rules here.”

Such as not being allowed to get skipping ropes past security.

“They said I can’t bring it in, and I asked, ‘Why?’” Bolt recalled. “They just said it is the rules. So if I have a rubber band that I need to stretch, I can’t take it in. And when I asked why, they say, ‘It’s just the rules.’

“It’s just some weird small rules that don’t make any sense to me, personally.”

Games organizer Sebastian Coe says there will be an investigation, but joked Monday that the delay “didn’t seem to slow him up too much.”

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

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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