EYES ON LONDON: A downpour _ and who will medal?

Associated Press
United States' Sanya Richards-Ross, front left, competes in a women's 400-meter heat during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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IT'S RAINING, IT'S POURING

Bound to happen. These Olympics are in London, after all. And the first serious rain of the athletics competition hit a little more than two hours into Day 1 at Olympic Stadium.

What began as less than a drizzle transformed into a downpour as DeeDee Trotter of the U.S. and other women crouched at the starting line for the third heat of the 400-meter hurdles on Friday morning. Trotter's hands were streaked by little rivulets of rain as she set them down on the soaked track.

She wasn't bothered a bit, though, easily finishing first in her heat in 50.87 seconds.

After about 10 minutes, the rain went away, replaced anew by a hot, hot sun. That's London weather for you.

— Howard Fendrich — Twitter http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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MEDALING KIDS

Olympic athletes used to win medals. Now they just "medal."

Commentators and competitors, it seems, can't stop using it as a verb.

Cue fury on Twitter, with many decrying "medaled" and "medaling" as bad English.

Step forward John Simpson, chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Get used to it, he says.

The OED has long recognized "medal" as a verb. It even cites the earliest example of it from a letter written by Lord Byron in 1822.

What's more, Simpson adds, podium - as in "she podiumed" - could soon join it. "It is not unlikely for it to switch to a verb," he says.

Grammarians may grumble - but it has led to at least one joke.

"All I wanted was a gold medal," says the Scooby-Doo villain. "And I would have gotten away with it - had it not been for those medaling kids."

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

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ZICO NAMESAKE

Chinese singles gold medalist Zhang Jike is named for the great Brazilian soccer star Zico.

Some explanation:

First, Zhang is the family name, and Jike is the given name.

In Mandarin, the pronunciation of Zico sounds nearly identical to Jike — gee-KUH.

That's "Gee" like the letter "G'' in English. And "KUH" like the initial sound in the word "could."

Anyway, Jike's father is a former professional pingpong player who also loved soccer. But he decided early his son had a better future in pingpong than table tennis.

China's soccer team has usually been disappointing. Pingpong never has.

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

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A LOSS HAILED AS A VICTORY

She lasted only a minute or so on the mat — but Saudi Arabia's female judo fighter has left quite a mark in London and beyond.

"I'll walk out later with the Saudi flag around my neck & my head up high as if we won the biggest gold medal in the history of the Olympics," wrote a Saudi-born man who has a blog called Saudi Root.

Another resident in the conservative Gulf kingdom, Alaa Al-Mizyen, added: "Wojdan remains a winner to me and millions of men AND women around the world."

Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani's opponent also had kind words, and said fears the hijab would get in the way, or even be dangerous, were overblown.

After the briefest of fights, the 18-year-old walked with her father past a scrum of journalists and television cameras.

"I am happy to be at the Olympics," she whispered in Arabic, her father holding both her arms. "Unfortunately, we did not win a medal, but in the future we will and I will be a star for women's participation."

— Paul Haven — Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/paulhaven

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QUICK QUOTE: MOTHER'S ADVICE

"I told Gabby, 'You have to watch what you say, what you tweet,' and she said 'Mom, I know. I know.' She gets it. It's always been her dream to inspire people, and ... she wants people to say, 'If Gabby can do it, I can do it.'" — Natalie Hawkins on the responsibility of daughter Gabby Douglas' newfound status as a role model.

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

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YAO MING'S HERE

Yao Ming still stands out in a crowd, even though the former NBA basketball star no longer is playing.

He's at the London Olympics working for a Chinese broadcaster, and that means riding the buses like everyone else in the media. At 7-foot-6 (2.32 meters), his shoulders and head tower over everyone else on a bus even while sitting down.

That doesn't mean everyone recognizes him. Told Yao just walked past him, a volunteer said, "Oh that was Yao Ming? Well, he was over 7-feet tall."

— Teresa Walker — Twitter http://twitter.com/TeresaMWalker

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TWITTER JEALOUSY

The Twitter shout-out is the benchmark for athletes of these Olympic Games, and a tweet from Justin Bieber is the pinnacle.

But Gabby Douglas, who got a tweet from Biebs earlier this week, is pulling in a star-studded haul. hHr list following her all-around gold medal included Michael Phelps, Oprah Winfrey, Timbaland and actresses Gabrielle Union, Elizabeth Banks and Octavia Spencer.

It also touched off some jealousy as Douglas replied to Lil Wayne, but initially appeared to ignore Nicki Minaj.

"Oh wow, I tweeted about (hashtag)Gabby earlier but she responds to (Lil Wayne) and not me? U know what? Ima fight u. I've had it!!!" Minaj tweeted.

Douglas replied, triggering a love-fest back-and-forth between her and Minaj on Twitter.

"Hahaha I was trying to find it !!!!!!! I PROMISE!!!!!!!! THANK YOU SOO MUCH!!! OMG IM NUMB RIGHT NOW!!!!! (hashtag)SPEECHLESS," Douglas first tweeted.

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

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JAMAICAN VIBE

There's a slightly groovy, edgy Caribbean vibe in London now.

Heats begin on Friday for Jamaica's female runners with a rum-fuelled finale on the cards Sunday when Usain Bolt - the fastest man in the world - goes for gold.

Reggae is pumping around the city and jerk chicken shacks are popping up everywhere. Breakfast cafes - known for their traditional British fry-ups - are even serving ackee and salt fish, a traditional Jamaican breakfast of salted cod and a poisonous fruit that, when cooked, looks and tastes like scrambled eggs.

"We're all on fire, man!" said Gorgeous Williams, a 43-year-old Jamaican who runs a jerk chicken stand in North London. "We'll all be getting the rum out tonight ... And Saturday, and Sunday!"

Jamaica's national house, which will showcase music, food and other parts of the culture, opens Friday. There are nearly 1 million people of Jamaican descent in the UK.

— Paisley Dodds — Twitter http://twitter.com/paisleydodds

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OL' MAN HOFFA

The ol' fella led the way.

All three U.S. entrants qualified for the men's shot put final Friday, with 34-year-old Reese Hoffa of Augusta, Ga., topping everyone with a best heave of 70 feet, 1 inch (21.36 meters).

Hoffa owns four world championships medals but is seeking his first piece of hardware at an Olympics; he was seventh at Beijing in 2008, for example.

Next-best Friday morning was world champion David Storl of Germany at 69-4¾ (21.15), followed by reigning Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland at 69-0 (21.03).

Also qualifying for Friday night's final: Ryan Whiting of Harrisburg, Pa., and Christian Cantwell, of Eldon, Mo.

— Howard Fendrich — Twitter http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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MOM GOES VIRAL

It would be logical to assume that footage of an American gold medalist gymnast could go viral, right?

Not if mom's reactions are somehow more exciting.

NBC's video of Lynn Raisman watching daughter Aly Raisman perform on the uneven bars Sunday, with her nervous murmurs and face and body contortions, was the single most replayed moment on TiVo digital video recorders that night. It has even inspired a YouTube spoof.

The network doesn't have "parent cams" trained on the stands during every Olympic event. Moms and dads are featured only when they are relevant to the story lines, veteran NBC producer Molly Solomon said Thursday. But they've already been indelible parts of the network's coverage in the first few days of the London Games.

"Can you imagine the emotions of watching your kid compete?" Solomon says. "To me it's part of the fabric of the story."

— David Bauder — Twitter http://twitter.com/dbauder

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ENNIS HURDLES

Britain's poster girl, Jessica Ennis, just won her Heptathlon hurdles race in a time of 12.54.

That is fast.

In the 2008 Beijing games, U.S. 100-meter hurdler Dawn Harper won the gold medal in the individual in the same time.

Ennis took 1195 points from the win, putting her in the lead position as they go into the second event, the high jump.

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

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WHERE'S BOLT: MAURICE GREENE EDITION

AP's Jenna Fryer is scouring London and Olympic Park for sprinter Usain Bolt and seeing what people have to say about him. Here's her latest entry:

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Still haven't caught the "fastest man in the world," and that moniker is being challenged Friday morning.

Usain Bolt has been elusive so far during his stay in London, where many expect him to once again sweep the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

Maurice Greene, winner of the 100 in Sydney and bronze in Athens, believes Bolt will get beat in London by his Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake.

"Don't get me wrong — Bolt can come out here and run something phenomenal," says Greene, who won gold in the 100 at the 2000 Olympics. "He is capable of that. He has done that before. It is possible.

"But he's nowhere near the shape he was in 2008 in China. He's not that same guy. For the last two years, he's been having a lot of technical problems. I have to take it from that. But don't get me wrong, he can come out here and do something."

Greene joins a growing list of athletes and commentators who believe Bolt is going to have his hands full at this Olympics.

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

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SAUDI ATHLETE: SHORT FIGHT

That was quick — less than a minute and a half quick.

Saudi Arabia's first female Olympian was easily defeated Friday by a Puerto Rican fighter in a judo bout that lasted only 82 seconds.

Wearing a tight-fitting black cap after judo officials would not allow her to don a headscarf, Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani lost the one-sided match to Melissa Mojica.

The 18-year-old Shahrkhani looked tentative and unwilling to grab her opponent's uniform. Mojica then flipped Shahrkhani onto her back for a match-ending throw.

— Maria Cheng — Twitter http://twitter.com/mylcheng

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RYAN LOCHTE, BIRTHDAY BOY

American swimming star Ryan Lochte turns 28 on Friday. He already knows he's getting a great gift — the day off.

After winning five medals at the London Games, Lochte's work in the Olympic pool is complete for 2012. So for his birthday, he'll get to spend the day with his family.

"I think it's the first time in years where I get to celebrate it and I don't have to swim," Lochte says. "So I'm definitely happy for that."

Lochte didn't reveal any big birthday plans, other than just hanging out.

"We'll probably just walk around and just be a family," Lochte says.

Lochte plans to see plenty of Olympic events now that his schedule is open. On his wish list: Seeing Usain Bolt run on the track and watching the U.S. basketball team play.

— Tim Reynolds — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds

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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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