EYES ON LONDON: Freaked out, swans, Usain Colt

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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ANYONE FOR ENNIS?

This wasn’t a competition. It was a coronation.

With a healthy lead in the heptathlon, Britain’s Olympic poster girl Jessica Ennis could almost have walked around the final event, the 800 meters. But the roars of 80,000 fans carried her over the line in first place.

As she headed around the second and last lap, the Olympic Stadium announcer implored the crowd to make more noise. And, somehow, they did. And they carried her over the line in first place.

I’ve been in some noisy stadiums in my time (vuvuzelas in South Africa, anybody?) but this felt — I could physically feel the roar — like the loudest by far.

—Mike Corder — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/mikecorder

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HE DELIVERED, SHE DIDN’T

Britain’s Mo Farah couldn’t contain his excitement as he won the 10,000 meters gold medal. But his wife Tania, seven months pregnant, was desperately trying to keep her emotions in check.

The Somali-born Farah embraced his wife, and their young daughter on the track after his Olympic winning run. Tania had earlier joked that being at the stadium at all was probably a risk. The raucous atmosphere, she suggested, could send her into labor early.

She said she’d even checked that there would be doctors on hand at the stadium. Just in case.

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

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FOR THE FUTURE

“Hopefully we are inspiring the next generation.” — Jessica Ennis, British winner of heptathlon gold Saturday night.

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

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THE CROWD LIFTS

“If it wasn’t for the crowd I don’t think that would happen. They give you that lift, that boost. A lot of people thought having the Olympics in London was a lot of pressure. Obviously there is pressure, but sometimes you can’t think about it. You’ve just got to use the crowd. I think every single one of us who won a gold medal used the crowd.” — Britain’s Mo Farah, gold medal winner in the 10,000 meter race.

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

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MORE GOLD FOR FRASER-PRYCE

A milestone for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce arrived as a milestone passed for her country.

“I want to tell Jamaica: Happy 50th anniversary,” said Fraser-Pryce, fresh from her second consecutive gold medal for the women’s 100 meters Saturday night. This weekend marks 50 years since the country became independent from Britain.

Fraser-Pryce closed ground over the last 20 meters and leaning at the line to win in 10.75 seconds and edge American Carmelita Jeter by .03 seconds. Another Jamaican, Veronica Campbell-Brown, finished third for her second career 100-meter bronze.

When the scoreboard finally flashed her in the No. 1 position, Fraser-Pryce dropped to the ground and cried. She ran to the stands, grabbed a Jamaican flag and paraded around with her teammate, Campbell-Brown, known as “VCB” on the island. She’s not finished in London yet, either. VCB is the two-time defending champion in the 200, where she’ll have Fraser-Pryce to contend with again, along with American Allyson Felix.

— Eddie Pells — Twitter http://twitter.com/epells

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BRITISH SUPERLATIVE

“It’s the greatest night in British athletics history, I think.” — British long jump gold medalist Greg Rutherford

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

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FOR AURORA

Missy Franklin’s breakout performance in the London Games has given the grief-stricken town of Aurora, Colo., a whole lot to smile about. Franklin capped a brilliant Olympic debut with a gold medal in the 4×100 individual medley relay on Saturday night, giving her four gold medals and a bronze.

“I hope this means a lot to them,” Franklin says. “I have constantly been thinking about them throughout this whole time. Everything I did here is dedicated to them.”

Franklin is from the Denver suburb of Centennial and goes to high school in Aurora, where a mass shooting in a movie theater on July 20 shook the town to its core.

“It was so, so terrible what happened and it’s still hard to believe it really did happen,” Franklin says. “I hope that I was able to bring some smiles back to Colorado. The supportive tweets and Facebook posts I’ve been getting, so many people have been saying that I’ve been doing that. That just means the world to me.”

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

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‘TIME OF MY LIFE’

“I’ve had the time of my life here and that gets me excited for what’s coming next. … It’s so unreal and so above anything I could’ve ever imagined.” — U.S. swimmer Missy “The Missile” Franklin, after capping off a brilliant Olympic debut by helping the U.S. take gold in the women’s 400 medley relay with a world-record time.

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AT THE GATES

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, stopped by Horse Guards Parade on Saturday night to watch Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings dismantle the Netherlands in straight sets in beach volleyball.

Here’s a picture of them waiting for journalists to finish up with the two-time gold medalists in the mix zone: http://goo.gl/tVcuy. (No, he’s not behind protective glass. He’s out in the open air, behind the announcer’s table. The picture was taken from inside a control booth — through, well, windows.)

Asked what he thought of the Americans’ performance, Gates told The Associated Press: “It was fantastic.”

Gates is a bit of a beach volleyball groupie, it turns out. He says he went to see matches “at Bondi and Beijing.” May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings won the gold medal in 2008 in Beijing but were not a team at the Sydney Games, when the competition was held at Bondi Beach. (They won their first at Athens in ’04.)

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

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MURDOCH’S POOLSIDE VISIT

Britain’s Culture Secretary is in some hot water over a poolside visit with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

Jeremy Hunt, the most senior minister responsible for the Olympics, was seen chatting with Murdoch at the Olympic Aquatics Center on Friday night. Both were guests of London mayor Boris Johnson, just a few months after Hunt faced tough questions at the country’s media ethics inquiry over his links to the mogul.

In May, Hunt had told Britain’s judge-led inquiry into press standards — which is scrutinizing links between the press and politicians — that he regretted developing friendly ties to Murdoch’s son James.

Opposition Labour Party lawmaker John Mann says the two of them watching together while American Michael Phelps won the gold in the 100-meter butterfly was inappropriate. Hunt, Mann says, should be avoiding Murdoch “like the plague.”

Hunt’s office insists, though: The minister didn’t arrange in advance to meet with Murdoch.

— David Stringer and Raphael Satter — Twitter http://twitter.com/david_stringer and http://twitter.com/razhael

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PHELPS: THE FUTURE

“It’s just time to move on. There are other things I want to do in my life. I’m not sure staring at a black line for four hours a day is one of them.” — Michael Phelps on his post-Olympian future.

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

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QUICKQUOTE: GOLDEN BRITS

“Team GB’s gluttonous desire for gold shows no sign of being sated. Their extraordinary efforts have brought rapture to streets, parks and living rooms in London and all over the country if not the planet.” — London Mayor Boris Johnson on Britain’s six gold medal wins on Saturday.

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

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ENNIS’ GOLD

She grinned, blew kisses, and jumped up and down. Then Jessica Ennis leaned in for her gold medal, grinning ear to ear as the crowd roared and the music played — “God Save the Queen.”

Before the medal ceremony, Ennis said of how she felt: “Massive relief. To come into this event with all that pressure with everyone just saying ‘Oh, you are going to win gold. You are going to win gold.’ I know how hard it has been to win it. Yeah, I just can’t believe I’ve done it. All that pressure is off me now. It’s so nice.”

For Britain, this is a moment to remember.

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

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THEY ROAR FOR MO

Olympic Stadium is roaring for Mo Farah, and for the rest of his family.

The British distance runner turned on the jets on the final lap to run away with the men’s 10,000 meters on Saturday night. Farah collapsed to the track in tears, then made the shape of a heart to tell 80,000 adoring fans that the feeling was mutual.

Minutes later, Farah’s wife and stepdaughter met him on the track, and he scooped up his little girl in a warm embrace.

The family posed for pictures as the cheers continued, a family portrait that will be difficult to top.

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

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QUICKQUOTE: BRITISH PM ON ENNIS

“Awe-inspiring win for Jessica Ennis. Proud to be cheering her on with the home crowd.” — British Prime Minister David Cameron after Ennis won gold in the women’s heptathlon.

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

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PARTING GIFT

One last ovation, one last trophy, one last ceremony for Michael Phelps.

FINA president Julio Maglione honored Phelps with a special individual ceremony on the final night of his record-breaking Olympic career. Phelps finishes his career with a record 22 career medals and 18 golds.

Maglione handed Phelps a silver trophy to commemorate his brilliant career, and the touching gesture leaves just one question unanswered:

Shouldn’t the trophy have been gold, too?

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

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TAKEN BY SURPRISE

They weren’t expecting that one. The home crowd just went wild as Britain’s Greg Rutherford took gold in the men’s long jump.

From the surprised look on Rutherford’s face, he couldn’t quite believe it either.

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

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PHELPS’ LAST PODIUM

First he climbed out of the Olympic pool. For the last time. Now, with tears in his eyes and his teammates by his side, Michael Phelps has stepped to the top of the Olympic podium one more time. For the last time.

Phelps hopped up on the podium with teammates Nathan Adrian, Brendan Hansen and Matt Grevers, then clasped hands and raised their arms in celebration of their 4×100 medley relay gold medals.

It’s the 18th gold medal for Phelps, who is calling it an Olympic career. He smiled while holding back tears as “The Star Spangled Banner” played at the Aquatic Center. Then he posed with the medal and an American flag before taking one last victory lap.

He tossed his flowers up to his mother, who dropped them on the first try. It’s about the only thing that has gone wrong for Phelps on his final night at the pool.

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

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GLITTER FACE

American sprinter DeeDee Trotter took her game face to another level Saturday night.

She plans to raise the bar in Sunday’s 400-meter final.

“There’s an explosion on my face,” she says. “Tomorrow I am bringing it bigger, better.”

Trotter paints patriotic designs next to her right eye before she competes. In Saturday’s semifinals she had a burst of red, white and blue and said it makes her tougher.

“I keep saying it’s like that Mike Tyson-type thing. You know when he came back with the tat, he was crazy, crazy maniac,” Trotter says. “He just got in there and did whatever it took, and that’s the attitude I’m tying to bring tomorrow. My glitter face just showed that: war paint time, time to get the grind on.”

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

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PHELPS: ENDING IN STYLE

Michael Phelps definitely earned the last gold medal of his incredible Olympic career.

Team USA trailed after two legs in the 4×100 medley relay on Saturday, but Phelps put them back in front and Nathan Adrian blew away the rest of the field as the anchor in the freestyle leg to give the Americans their 30th swimming medal of the London Games. Matt Grevers and Brendan Hansen rounded out the relay squad.

Phelps was stone-faced as he walked into the pool for the final race of his career. He needed every bit of that focus to chase down Japan, which was leading the relay after two legs.

That’s 22 medals, 18 of them gold for Phelps in his career. Soon he’ll be stepping on the Olympic podium for the final time.

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

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SWIMMING DOMINATION

Missy Franklin and her Team USA swimming pals are hugging and smiling as they walk out of the pool. They sure have this whole celebration thing down pat.

Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt set a new world record of 3:52.05 in the 4×100 medley relay on Saturday night, beating rival Australia by nearly two seconds.

The Americans have dominated in the pool in these Olympics, racking up 29 medals so far. That’s as many as any other three nations combined.

The four stars embraced after their record swim, laughing and raising their arms in another victory. There was never any doubt in this race, as the Americans jumped out to a big lead early and blazed to a convincing victory.

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

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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.