EYES ON LONDON: Kerri Walsh Jennings' pinkeye play

Associated Press
Two Chinese fans pause for photos prior to the Women's Synchronized 10 Meter Platform Diving final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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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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PLAYING WITH PINKEYE

Two-time defending gold medalist beach volleyball pair Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor of the United States wrap up pool play Wednesday against Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger — and Walsh insists she won't be slowed by a case of pinkeye in her left eye.

"It's super minor," she said. "It just looks worse than it is."

Walsh Jennings' left eye was red and watery as she squinted through it, dabbing it repeatedly with a tissue to wipe away the gunk and teardrops. Her husband, fellow beach volleyball pro Casey Jennings, has it much worse.

"It looks like his eyeballs got their butts kicked," she said.

Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor have opened the London Games with victories in their first two matches in pool play — a 16-game winning streak that stretches back to Athens. They are virtually assured of a spot in the knockout round regardless of what happens in Wednesday night's match.

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

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AFRICA'S FENCING WIN

With a silver medal in hand, Egypt's Alaaeldin Abouelkassem won the first Olympic medal ever claimed by a fencer from Africa.

He lost the final 15-13 to his Chinese rival, yet could barely believe what he'd achieved.

Abouelkassem, son of an Algerian mother and an Egyptian father, said his victory would not just boost fencing in Egypt, but in all over Africa.

"They need this medal to improve the fencing in Africa," he said.

On his way to the final, Abouelkassem beat reigning world champion Andrea Cassara of Italy and former four-time world champion Peter Joppich of Germany.

"Every match, I am better than the match before," he said after defeating Cassara. "I feel good, I have no stress, I am from Africa, from Egypt, so no one expects me to win."

Abouelkassem dedicated the medal to his father who died recently.

"This was the dream of my dad and he left me three months ago," he said.

— Eric Willemsen — Twitter https://twitter.com/eWilmedia

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BAD-MINTON

Did the world doubles badminton champs try to lose?

Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China were booed off the Olympic court Tuesday after appearing to intentionally lose against South Koreans Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na in a preliminary women's match. The South Koreans also didn't look as if they were trying to win at times.

The reason? Both teams had already topped their groups and qualified for the last 16, but the result ensured top seeds Wang and Yu avoided playing their No. 2-seeded teammates until the final.

Yu said they were only trying to save energy for the knockout rounds, starting Wednesday.

"We would try hard in every match if they were elimination games," she said.

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FIERCE FIVE

The U.S. women's gymnastics team has gold medals around their necks, but one thing is still missing.

They need a catchy nickname, something like "The Magnificent Seven" from 1996, the last time American women landed on top of the medal stand.

"I like Fierce Five," McKayla Maroney said. "Because we are definitely the fiercest team out there."

— Nancy Armour — Twitter www.twitter.com/nrarmour

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TUNISIAN SURPRISE

The Americans were expected to have a blowout win against Tunisia on the basketball court Tuesday. But nobody told the Tunisians they were supposed to go down easily.

They began fearlessly, with Makram Ben Romdhane driving all the way for a dunk — the type of athletic plays that are usually made by the Americans, not against them — to take an 8-4 lead. Tunisia still led by three with 2:39 left in the period before the U.S. second unit ran off the final nine points for a 21-15 advantage.

The Americans came back and won 110-63.

But after wire-to-wire loser Sunday against Nigeria, the Tunisians will be able to tell their kids their first Olympic lead came against the powerful Americans.

— Brian Mahoney — Twitter http://twitter.com/briancmahoney

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VAULTING TO THE TOP

One of the toughest vaults is the Amanar, named after 1996 vault champion Simona Amanar. It consists of a roundoff onto the takeoff board, back handspring onto the table and 2.5 twisting somersaults before landing.

Most countries are lucky to have one or two gymnasts who even try it, let alone do it well. But four of the five Americans — Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas and world vault champion McKayla Maroney — land the high-scoring skill.

It's got a start value — the measure of difficulty — of 6.5, a whopping 0.7 above the vault most other gymnasts do, and on Tuesday the Americans ripped off one massive one after another. It gave them a 1.7-point lead, and they never looked back.

— Nancy Armour — Twitter www.twitter.com/nrarmour

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AURORA CHEERS

A Colorado town shaken by a mass shooting in a movie theater has something to celebrate — a gold medal won by local swimming star, Missy Franklin.

Franklin, 17, attends Aurora's Regis Jesuit High School and lives in the nearby Denver suburb of Centennial. Following the July 20 shootings, she dedicated her Olympic races to her home state.

"It's such a terrible thing, and I'm so shaken by it," Franklin said last week. "They're in my thoughts this entire process."

Franklin won a gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke Monday after having opened her games with a relay bronze.

"For Missy to take time in the midst of her finest moment to think about her hometown and how she can help in its healing is an incredible statement about her character," Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said Tuesday.

"It certainly means a lot to Aurora to know that Missy cares, and we are proud of her achievements."

— P. Solomon Banda — Twitter https://twitter.com/psbanda

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COZY TARGETS

Funny thing about the Olympic archery setup at Lord's Cricket Ground. Television images don't give you any idea how cozy it is.

Instead of using the whole wide cricket stadium, London organizers carved out an intimate arena in the middle, complete with temporary bleachers. TV cameras and photographers are so close to the archers they must be protected from wayward arrows by hiding in little green bunkers. A time clock ticks off the 20 seconds in which the Olympians have to shoot, and a Jumbotron captures the tics in their faces as they compete.

I was glad, however, not to be in the wheelchair seating section on the far right. A little too close to those targets for my comfort.

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

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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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