EYES ON LONDON: Close call, Loving London

Associated Press
United States' Michael Phelps acknowledges the audience after he won the gold in the men's 100-meter butterfly swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
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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:

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CLOSE CALL

Moments after winning gold, Polish shot-putter Tomasz Majewski almost ruined it.

Jubilant over his throw of 21.89 meters, Majewski ran across the track to grab a flag in celebration.

But the massive Majewski was a little too close for comfort for the women running the 10,000 meters. He got across the track before being in danger of a collision, but it was close enough to draw a big "OOOH" from the crowd.

Asked about it afterward, all he could do was smile and shake his head sheepishly.

"I'm very proud that I did it," he said.

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

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LOVING LONDON

For U.S. shot-putter Reese Hoffa, three times is a charm. He came up short during the Athens and Beijing games in 2004 and 2008, but snagged a bronze medal Friday night in London's Olympic Stadium.

Plus, he's loving the whole London vibe.

First off, "they speak English," and clearly, for the 34-year-old from Louisville, Ky., that's a big plus.

And he thinks "the food is phenomenal."

Anything else?

"This is probably the most hospitable place we've been, I guess, other than Japan. They are pretty nice people there, too," he said.

"I have nothing but fond things to say about London."

Only a small complaint: "I wish the mall was a little closer."

Now that he's got that medal, perhaps he'll have more time to shop.

— John Leicester — http://twitter.com/johnleicester

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PHELPS GOES OUT IN STYLE

From AP's Paul Newberry at the swimming:

"Seventh at the turn, an Olympic champion at the end. Make it 17 gold medals for Michael Phelps.

What a way to go out in the final individual race of his career.

With those long arms whipping through the water, Phelps was next-to-last when he touched the wall at the far end of the pool in the 100-meter butterfly but in a familiar position when he made the touch that counted Friday — his name atop the leaderboard, a smile on his face, another gold medal around his neck."

And from Phelps: "I'm just happy that the last one was a win. That's all I really wanted coming into the night."

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

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SEVEN AND OUT

Jorgen Persson has probably just played in his final Olympics. That's saying something. This is his seventh.

Persson and his Swedish teammates were beaten 3-1 Friday by Germany in the team competition.

Persson, 46, is one of three table tennis players to play in every Olympics since 1988, when the game was first introduced into the games.

The other two — Jean-Michel Saive of Belgium and Zoran Primorac of Croatia — lost in singles and are not playing the team event. They have said they are unlikely to return. Persson feels the same way.

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

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SLIM AND TRIM

All the hard work Tianna Madison has put in over the last eight months is starting to pay off.

The American sprinter ran a blazing 10.97 in the 100 on Friday to advance to the semifinals.

Madison says she's dropped 20 pounds (9 kilos) since September to reshape her body and prepare for the Olympics.

"It's making all the difference for me," Madison says. "I talked with my husband and we decided it's time to step up and get serious about training and that's what we did."

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

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NUMBER GAMES

The number 2012 comes up a lot during the London Olympic games. Here's a few:

— 2,012 tracks: Number of songs on the official play list

— 2,012 pounds ($3,146): Price of the most expensive seats to the opening ceremony

— 20.12 pounds ($31.46): Price of the cheapest seat at the opening ceremony

— 2012BST (8.12 p.m.): Time when the pre-game show began before the opening ceremony

— 20-12 (Dec. 20): Date every year when "2012 Day" will be celebrated in Great Britain

— 2012BST: Time on July 20 when the Olympic Torch arrived at the Tower of London

— 20.12 percent: A common discount being offered by hotels and attractions around Britain

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

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ATHENS DECAY

There's still one group that loves the training pool for athletes at the former Olympic village in Athens.

Frogs.

They sit on debris that floats on the pool's murky waters.

Eight years after the 2004 Athens Games, many of the Olympic venues Greece built at great expense remain abandoned or rarely used. They are the focus of public anger as the country struggles through a fifth year of recession and nearly three years of a debt crisis that has sent poverty and unemployment soaring,

At the Athens venue for softball — a sport unknown in Greece and already out of the Summer Olympics — the occasional weed is all that remains on the dried-out field.

With no shortage of real beaches in Greece, the purpose-built beach volleyball stadium has seen minimal use.

The athletes village itself has fared somewhat better, turned into housing for workers.

— Elena Becatoros — Twitter http://twitter.com/ElenaBec

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WHAT'S COOKING?

AP's Nicole Winfield had a rare glimpse inside the athletes' dining area. Here's what some of them are eating: Traditional English breakfast, complete with fried eggs, black pudding, roasted tomatoes; kimchi and miso soup, lamb samosas and baba ganoush and, this being the Olympics, McDonald's.

Conspicuously absent: poppy seeds. ("It will show up on an anti-doping test," chief caterer Jan Matthews says.) And alcohol. The village is officially dry.

— Nicole Winfield — www.twitter.com/nwinfield

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DON'T CARE WHO YOU ARE

Just saw a group of sprinters get kicked out of the stands — in brusque manner — by a security guard here at Olympic Stadium.

They filed their way up the stairs and into one of the media areas. "Leave. Leave. Leave," the guard told them. They balked. "Leave now or I'll have you removed by force."

I asked the guard what the deal was and he said, simply, that their credentials didn't allow them to be there and they were taking up space and clogging up the aisleways.

OK, so, what if Usain Bolt walked up here and wanted to watch?

"I'd do the exact same thing," the guard said.

— Eddie Pells — www.twitter.com/epells

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QUICKQUOTE: 'PHENOMENAL!'

"It was (expletive) phenomenal! They definitely don't need me anymore!" — Tour de France winner and Olympic time trial gold medalist Bradley Wiggins after watching the British pursuit team win the gold medal Friday. Wiggins was a member of the team when it won gold in Beijing.

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WALL OF SOUND

From AP's Fergus Bell inside the velodrome where the British fans have been raising the roof: "It can only be described as a wall of sound. It is passed from spectator to spectator, keeping time with the cyclists zooming past them on the track. On the final laps it becomes a solid mass of noise that assaults you from all angles, swelling as the riders speed toward the finish line. It gives you goose bumps. It lifts you to your feet."

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

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LONDON BOURBON

Are we in the Olympic Park or on Bourbon Street? A brass band is putting the groove in these London Games, circling the bridge that connects Westfield Mall to the city's Olympic Stadium.

They're putting everyone in a Mardi Gras-kind of mood.

Here's a look: http://yfrog.com/h67k5dzej

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

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CANCER-FREE

Eric Shanteau finished off his Olympics still hoping for a gold medal. No matter what, he's much happier than he was four years ago about what awaits him when he gets back to the United States.

Before the Beijing Games, the American swimmer was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery less than a week after he got home. He's been cancer-free ever since.

"I'm just enjoying myself so much more," Shanteau said. "It's just so much easier to walk around with a smile on my face at this meet than it was four years ago."

While Shanteau failed to make the final of his only individual event, the 100-meter breaststroke, he has a chance to pick up his first Olympic medal after swimming the preliminaries of the 400 medley relay Friday. The Americans are a heavy favorite and everyone who competes on the relay — either in the morning prelims or the evening final — would get a gold if they win.

Shanteau plans to take at least two months off after the games. Then, he'll decide whether to continue his swimming career.

But at least he doesn't have cancer hanging over him.

"Wow, I can go home and relax and celebrate and do whatever I want to now," Shanteau said, breaking into a big smile, "and not have to worry about living."

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

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WHO'S SHOPPING FOR KEYRINGS?

SPOTTED: Russian basketball players Natalia Vieru and Nadezhda Grishaeva just seen in Cool Britannia — a sprawling souvenir shop in Piccadilly Circus. They were picking out keyrings as intrepid customers and staff — pint-sized in comparison — approached to ask for a photo.

"We don't mind it," said Vieru, who is 6 foot 6 (1.98 meters) tall. "It's fun for people, so why not?"

— James Clasper — Twitter http://twitter.com/jamesclasper

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RED, WHITE AND BLUE

U.S. runners Sanya Richards-Ross and DeeDee Trotter won their 400-meter qualifying races Friday with relative ease — and in stylish fashion.

Richards-Ross wore an all-red combination, with her fingernails painted different versions of red, white and blue.

Trotter had a small American flag painted next to her right eye — complete with glitter and sparkling jewels.

"This is a mild version of what you'll get in the finals," Trotter says. "This is just the beginning. Tomorrow it'll be a little more dramatic, right 'til we get to the war paint to where it's really on to get there and get that grind on."

Trotter raced in heavy rain at Olympic Stadium. And no surprise, she was prepared for it. Trotter's face paint was waterproof.

"It's sweatproof, too," she says.

Richards-Ross has more outfits planned for Saturday and beyond.

"We have so many different options in our kit now, so I feel it's cool to be able to wear different outfits through the rounds," she says. "This is first-round look. I'll have something else on tomorrow."

— Mark Long — Twitter http://twitter.com/apmarklong

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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.

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