EYES ON LONDON: Drama at sea? Lebron makes friends

Associated Press
The sky turns black before a heavy rain shower as Germany's Hannes Aigner competes in the heats of the K-1 men's canoe slalom at Lee Valley Whitewater Center, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 29, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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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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FOREBODING SKIES

It's a personal battle against the elements that evokes the drama of the high seas. But this is an Olympics K1 canoe slalom event in a man-made environment in east London.

In a single frame, AP photographer Kirsty Wigglesworth has captured the drama of a man's bid for glory under foreboding skies.

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TWITTER TRASH TALK

Hope Solo's angry Twitter rants are U.S. coach Pia Sundhage's latest challenge.

The U.S. women's soccer team won 3-0 Saturday against Colombia, but Solo, the U.S. goalie, took exception on Twitter to comments by her former colleague Brandi Chastain, who is now a TV commentator.

"The game has changed from a decade ago," Solo tweeted.

Sundhage says she spoke with Solo and reminded her that the most important thing now is the team's next Olympic game against North Korea on Tuesday. But the coach says she's not going to bother stopping her star goalie from tweeting.

"It's all about the next game," Sundhage said.

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

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LOW EXPECTATIONS

British swimmer Rebecca Adlington was probably the most surprised by her bronze medal swim in the 400 meters final.

Her tweet from earlier Sunday: "Just sneaked into tonight's final in 8th place! Not expecting anything tonight, all I can do is my best :-) thank you for all the support."

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

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SOLDIERS FOR FREE

AP's Cassie Vinograd says some of those empty seats that have been a feature of the games so far are being filled by uniformed British soldiers at the women's gymnastics event. They've taken up about eight rows.

Still, many seats in the lower level remain unaccounted for.

— Cassandra Vinograd — Twitter http://twitter.com/cassvinograd

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EYEING THE ODDS

Determined to see a British sports book, I discovered William Hill in Euston. It's nothing like Las Vegas.

Think more like an empty OTB. One television showed the Olympics. The rest were airing dog racing.

But the variety was interesting. They've got bundled bets such as Usain Bolt winning the 100 and 200 meters and the U.S.A men and women's basketball teams both winning gold at 9-to-4. A soccer bet at 8-to-1 bundles the Brazilian men and the American women to win the gold.

The overwhelming favorite is David Rudisha of Kenya in the 800 meters at 1-to-12. The next closest is the American women's basketball team at 1-to-10.

For a big payoff, go for the "Olympic Football Yes/No." Pick all six correctly, including if all six substitutes will be used in the Britain vs. Cameroon women's soccer match, and it pays 33-to-1.

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

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BRITS AND HOOPS

Football's the undisputed king of sports in Britain. But basketball is capturing the imagination here at the Olympics.

After being disappointed in the road race on Saturday, Britons flocked to the basketball arena for their team's hoops opener against Russia.

The upper level is jammed, the Union Jack is flying proudly and the crowd is roaring at every basket by Luol Deng or Joel Freeland.

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

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GATES VISIT

Organizers are readying the table tennis venue for a visit by Bill Gates where he'll watch Ariel Hsing against the No. 2 seed, Li Xiaoxia of China on Sunday night.

In the past, Gates has played a few practice shots with Hsing and she refers to him as "Uncle Bill."

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

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BEDS REMADE

They were at the center of the Olympics opening ceremony's tribute to Britain's cherished National Health Service.

Now the 320 beds that director Danny Boyle had in a dance sequence that showed British nurses tending to sick children will be used in real hospitals in Tunisia.

Organizers said the beds' elaborate lighting effects and wiring were being removed by volunteers before they were to be loaded into shipping containers and sent overseas.

The beds are being sent to the Hospital Habis Burguiba De Medenine and the Hospital de Taouine in Tunisia.

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

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SEA OF FANS

There was a real sea of people out at the ExCel center Sunday where table tennis, judo and boxing topped the agenda. To get a sense, here's a picture: http://bit.ly//O9mGbW

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

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YIKES FROM YI

So far Chinese basketball star Yi Jianlian has had difficulty finding playing time in the NBA.

That may change. After scoring 30 points and grabbing 12 rebounds Sunday in a loss to a Spanish team full of NBA players, Chinese coach Bob Donewald says he has no idea why his best player can't get minutes stateside.

"I don't know why he didn't play in Dallas but I think he's one of the best players in the world," Donewald says. "And he showed that tonight."

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

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BROKEN JAW (AND DREAMS)

Ghana's flagbearer is out of the Olympics after failing to recover in time from a broken jaw sustained in a qualifying fight.

Maxwell Amponsah had surgery to reset his jaw following the fracture on May 5 but it hasn't fully healed, meaning he carried his country's flag at Friday's opening ceremony but won't get to compete.

Ghana's Olympic committee says "there are potential major complications if he re-fractures his jaw."

— Gerald Imray — Twitter http://twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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LEBRON'S LEAP

Nothing like an Olympics to boost your social media profile, it seems.

LeBron James has acquired almost 600,000 new Facebook fans in the last week, with Kobe Bryant coming in second in terms of popularity with an extra 78,000.

But Kobe's still the top Olympian on the social media site in terms of overall numbers.

Facebook has released the following overall fan figures:

Kobe - 13.57 million

LeBron - 11.93 million

Roger Federer - 11.23 million

Maria Sharapova - 7.8 million

Usain Bolt - 7.07 million

— Ian Phillips — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/phillipsian

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LONELY SEATS

The rows of empty seats at some Olympic venues have enraged sports fans in London who tried but failed to get Olympic tickets.

And now the seats are putting their side of the story across — through Twitter, naturally.

An account, (at)Olympic seat, emerged on Sunday evening.

"I feel so empty," read one post, accompanied by an avatar of empty seats.

"It was my lifelong ambition to be an Olympic seat," read another tweet. "To provide rest and comfort for cheering sports fans. I feel like such a failure."

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

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BELLE OF THE BAR

The Americans dominated the afternoon qualifying for women's gymnastics, but Britain's athletes got the loudest cheers.

An ovation greeted Britain's Beth Tweddle, who earned a 16.133 on the uneven bars for the top score of the session.

"I was nervous," she admitted later. "It was nerve-wracking to do the bars last."

Tweddle, at 27, is the oldest member of the team and Britain's most decorated gymnast. She's never won an Olympic medal, however.

Her performance Sunday helped Britain make the team finals, four years after they missed the last slot at the Beijing Games.

"We know we're not going to be able to touch USA, Russia, China," Tweddle said. "We are the level below them. Four years ago, we wouldn't be looking at that, so we are getting better."

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

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IT'S OKAY, ROOMIE

Jordyn Wieber has released a statement of support for close friend Aly Raisman, who bumped her out of the all-around gymnastics finals.

Wieber, the reigning world champion, had to watch Raisman's performance knowing a strong showing would keep her out of the individual competition. She left the arena sobbing after missing the cut.

"It was hard because of course I wanted that spot. But I also wanted Aly to do her best for the team," she said.

The two are roommates here at the London Games. Wieber will be relegated to cheerleader now as Gabby Douglas and Raisman compete for the all-around title.

"It has always been a dream of mine to compete in the all-around final of the Olympics," she said. "I'm proud of Aly and Gabby and happy that they reached the all-around and I was able to help the team get to the Finals. It was always going to be close between the three of us doing all-around and in the end it is what it is."

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

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DRENCHED TO THE BONE

Thousands of fans lined the Olympic women's cycling road race course — all 87 miles (140 kilometers) of it — despite the pelting rain, standing three or four deep in hopes of simply catching the blur of a cyclist. Police outriders were cheered, since riders usually followed soon after.

The rain would ease up for four or five minutes Sunday, then return with a vengeance. Who knows how the riders could stay upright or even see.

— Danica Kirka — http://twitter.com/danicakirka

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HANDING OUT HUGS

After the first U.S. win, a hug from the first lady.

The U.S. men's basketball team cruised to a 98-71 victory over France in their Olympic opener on Sunday and got quite the reward.

Michelle Obama watched the game, a few rows back. At the final buzzer, the entire team came over for a hug, one by one.

"It was a very special moment," Carmelo Anthony says. "For her to be sitting over there and supporting us, we just wanted to thank her for coming."

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

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PICTURE YOURSELF IN A BOAT ...

They might not pilot a Yellow Submarine, but two British sailors have received a good-luck message from Beatles legend Paul McCartney.

The 70-year-old musician sent a note Sunday to Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes, who will compete from Monday in the men's 49er competition — in which a crew of two sail in a high-performance skiff.

"Wishing you the very best of luck on the Lovely Rita in the games. Happy sailing to you both," McCartney said in his message, referring to their boat.

McCartney, who sang at Friday's opening ceremony, told the two British sailors that he shared their passion, and loved "to potter about" on his small dinghy.

Morrison wrote on his blog that the Beatles were Britain's "greatest-ever band" and said he and his teammate "were looking to emulate" the group's success as they take to the water.

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

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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

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