EYES ON LONDON: Swimming and excited Olympic fans

Associated Press
United States' Ryan Lochte swims on his way to win the men's 400-meter individual medley swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Saturday, July 28, 2012. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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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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AND FROM THE TV END ...

This from AP Television Writer David Bauder just now:

"An opening ceremony from the mother country with a Beatle, a queen and Mr. Bean proved irresistible for viewers in the United States, with a record-setting 40.7 million people watching NBC's first night of summer Olympics coverage. The Nielsen company said Saturday that London's opener was the most-watched opening ceremony of any summer or winter Olympics. It topped the previous mark of 39.8 million people who watched the 1996 Atlanta Olympics begin, and the 34.9 million who watched the colorful first night from Beijing four years ago."

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

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RING TONE

Everyone's warned to silence mobile phones at press conferences with medal winners. So where was that rap tune coming from at Ryan Lochte's news conference after he won gold in the men's 400 meter individual medley?

From Lochte's mobile.

The ringtone? "I have a lot of them," Lochte said. "Probably something from Lil Wayne."

Steve Futterman of CBS, whose question was interrupted, cracked, "If you win a gold, you get to leave your phone on."

— Warren Levinson — Twitter http://twitter.com/warrenlevinson

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PHELPS: MOVIN' ON

Perhaps the most stunning outcome of the day was Olympic golden boy Michael Phelps finishing fourth and out of the medal hunt in the 400 IM.

Phelps is trying to turn the page, and do it quickly because he has a busy slate at these London games.

He tweets: "Not pleased with my race tonight at all... But tom is a new day! And a new race!!"

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

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PHELPS: MOVIN' ON

Perhaps the most stunning outcome of the day was Olympic golden boy Michael Phelps finishing fourth and out of the medal hunt in the 400 IM.

Phelps is trying to turn the page, and do it quickly because he has a busy slate at these London games.

He tweets: "Not pleased with my race tonight at all... But tom is a new day! And a new race!!"

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

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BIRTHDAY CARD

Megan Rapinoe's goal celebration was an ad hoc birthday card.

After she scored for the U.S. women's soccer team in the first half of Saturday's 3-0 win over Colombia, Rapinoe reached into her sock and pulled out a note that read: "Happy B-day Kreigy. We love you." Rapinoe raced to the sideline and held the note up to the fans.

Ali Krieger, who turned 28 Saturday, is missing these Olympics after blowing out her knee during a qualifying match in January.

"It's a nice little ode to her," Rapinoe said.

But couldn't Rapinoe have spelled her teammate's nickname a little better? "Did I put the 'ei' wrong?" she said, laughing. "That's how it's spelled in my phone."

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

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GET YER WENLOCKS HERE

The massive shopping mall adjacent to Olympic Park isn't the only spot for consumerism.

Within the park, there are a handful of stores featuring all kinds of "London 2012" and Olympic gear, some of which was available at the main stadium during the opening ceremonies Friday night.

T-shirts of all shapes and sizes cost about 25 pounds ($38), whereas novelties like banks and stuffed toys go for 6 to 12 pounds ($9-18). Most items feature the Olympic rings, the London 2012 logo or London Olympics mascots Wenlock and Mandeville. There is an offering of higher-end items, including signed photographs and commemorative coins and pins.

Visa, only, though if you are using a credit card (it's a global sponsor). Pounds are welcome.

The Royal Mail also has its fair share of Olympics material, including commemorative stamps, postcards and coins. On Friday, many people sought postmarks featuring the date of the opening ceremonies and the mail service organized to provided a special ink postmark for that very reason.

The demand didn't seem as high as the Beijing Olympics, when the opening of the games provided a unique date: 08-08-08.

See another photo of Wenlock — various Wenlocks, actually — here: http://pic.twitter.com/wASEY5lg

— Lou Ferrara — Twitter http://twitter.com/louferrarald

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VATICAN'S OLYMPIC SPIRIT

Even the Vatican is getting into the Olympic spirit.

The official Vatican newspaper ran a glowing review of Friday's opening ceremony and published an op-ed piece by the British ambassador to the Holy See. The subject: his family connection to Eric Liddell, one of the most memorable Olympians of all time.

Liddell was famously depicted in the 1981 film "Chariots of Fire." He was a Scottish missionary who pulled out of the 100 heat at the 1924 Olympics because it took place on a Sunday. He went on to win gold in the 400.

In the L'Osservatore Romano piece, Ambassador Nigel Baker recalled how his great uncle Noel was serving in China in the Welsh Regiment of the British Army in the early 1930s when he met Liddell, who was then working for the London Missionary Society.

As Baker recounted it, Great Uncle Noel — a fairly accomplished 400-meter runner — was preparing for an Army race the following day when an "ungainly redheaded man joined him and asked in a broad Scottish accent if he might run alongside."

The two did a few laps together. "You're not bad," the redhead said. "Tomorrow I'll be first and you'll be second."

Great Uncle Noel was a bit put off by the remark. He realized the following day at race time that he had not only warmed up with Liddell but would be competing against him.

"Liddell smiled, and acknowledged my great uncle," Baker wrote. "The gun fired. The athletes set off. Eric Liddell finished first. Great Uncle Noel second."

—Nicole Winfield — Twitter http://twitter.com/nwinfield

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STANDING WATCH IN WEYMOUTH

The sailors aboard the dinghies, skiffs, keelboats and sailboards that will dash across Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbor in the Olympic regatta will be protected by a security force ranging from police on personal watercraft to the Royal Navy's HMS Bulwark.

The HMS Bulwark, a landing platform dock assault ship, lurks a few miles out on the English Channel, serving as a floating command center for the miltary-police-civilian security effort. The ship's crew is monitoring commercial shipping, fishing boats and marine radio channels. It keeps a helicopter in the air at all times.

There were practice races Saturday in the Finn, Star and women's match racing classes. The regatta starts Sunday with two races in the Finn and Star classes and round-robin races in women's match racing.

British star Ben Ainslie, going for his fourth straight Olympic gold medal, appeared unhappy about something as he headed to shore. In December, his outburst at a TV cameraman got him disqualified from the world championships in Australia.

— Bernie Wilson — Twitter http://twitter.com/berniewilson

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SECRET PAIN, SECRET JOY

After Anthony Ogogo won his opening bout over the Dominican Republic's Junior Castillo, the British middleweight revealed his mother went into hospital six weeks ago after brain hemorrhage left her in a coma. Ogogo says his mother is doing "really well," and she's just down the hall at the hospital from her oldest daughter, who went into labor on her second child shortly before Ogogo's bout.

"Hopefully I'll get out of here and find out I have a new niece or nephew," he says.

— Greg Beacham — Twitter http://twitter.com/gregbeacham

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LUCKY SEVEN HOPES

Jorgen Persson hopes the seventh time is lucky.

The Swede is one of three players to have appeared in every Olympic table tennis tournament, beginning with the first one in 1988. But he's yet to win a medal. He advanced to the second round on Saturday, defeating Segun Toriola of Nigeria 4-1.

That's a perfect start for a guy who's lost twice in the Olympic semifinals in 2000 and 2008 — and then lost both bronze medal games.

"When you have these two opportunities to reach finals and lose — tough moments. ... This is my last chance. I will not get any more chances."

Persson has said that several times. "This is definitely the last," he repeated. "Rio is too far away."

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

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AQUATIC INTERLUDE

"That piece of cardboard in your hands won't be worth anything in two hours. Just remember that. Worth nothing!" — a man outside the aquatics center trying to get someone to sell him one of their prized tickets. He was right, but what a ride unfolded minutes later: In the first big showdown of the games, the U.S.'s Ryan Lochte won the 400 individual medley, and teammate Michael Phelps came in fourth.

— Tim Dahlberg — Twitter http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

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TEXTBOOK SWIMMING

Eric "the Eel" Moussambani made being bad at the Olympics good. Or cool, anyway.

Jackson Niyomugabo will continue the tradition of unlikely Olympic swimmers when the Rwandan competes in the 50-meter freestyle this week in London. He learned his sport from a French textbook and by watching meets on TV because he didn't have a coach.

"The Eel" gained worldwide fame by struggling in the 100 free at the Sydney Olympics. While he honed his skills back home in Equatorial Guinea in a hotel swimming pool and sometimes a river, Niyomugabo trains in Lake Kivu, the shimmering body of water that separates Rwanda from Congo.

His most precious tool is easily the book titled "The Secrets of Swimming Development."

And although it's in French, and Niyomugabo doesn't read French, he compares the illustrations in it with what he sees on television and goes from there.

"My main coach all my life has been this book," says the 24-year-old Niyomugabo, a two-time Olympian. "It was an extremely difficult way to learn. I would sit for hours ... staring at the TV."

But a lack of coach hasn't stopped him. He swam in Beijing, where he didn't make it past the preliminaries but has higher hopes this time. Way higher.

"I want to win a medal this time," he says. "And why not?"

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

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QUITE A VIEW

Early in these games, one of the most popular places in Olympic Park has been atop a grassy hill where the Olympic rings stand and overlook the park. It's a breathtaking view, and there were long lines throughout the day Saturday as visitors scaled the hill to get their pictures taken under the rings.

"It's spectacular," says Karen Kennedy, who came from Chicago with her teenage sons Stratford and Robert. "It's just a shock that this oasis is here in a bustling urban area."

See the view here: http://yfrog.com/kj5xczzj

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

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ONE OF THE GUYS

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended the Russian women's volleyball match against Britain at Earls Court on Saturday afternoon. Surrounded by dark-suited, earphone-clad secret service, Medvedev even joined the crowd in doing the wave.

It didn't have any impact on the match, but the Russian women won 3-0 anyway.

— Anne M. Peterson — Twitter http://twitter.com/anniempeterson

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POOL: WORLD RECORD

A new world record Saturday night: Ye Shiwen of China sets it on the way to winning Olympic gold in the women's 400 IM.

— Beth Harris — Twitter http://twitter.com/bethharrisap

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CELEB INTERLUDE

AP's Jenna Fryer reports from the streets of London:

Wandering through SoHo after a beach volleyball session where we just missed Sir Paul McCartney, we came upon a large crowd lining both sides of a small alley.

There were people hanging out of windows with cameras. Curious, we joined the crowd.

Rumors circulated that Madonna was about to exit the building, or Jude Law was about to arrive. But when the black sedan pulled up, out popped Keith Urban, followed by wife Nicole Kidman. The crowd pounced on the car, blocking it in on three sides.

"Nicole! Nicole!" people shouted. But she never turned, and they jeered Kidman as she entered the House of St. Barnabas-In-SoHo for the launch of The Omega House. (Not the one from "Animal House," and Doug Marmalard wasn't there. It's the watchmakers' promotional headquarters for the Olympics.)

We asked who else might be arriving, and were told singer Pixie Lot. With that, we headed to dinner. See Kidman's appearance here: http://pic.twitter.com/k96LWDUr

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

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PHOTO OP, FOOD OP

American 16-year-old Ariel Hsing was tickled about reaching the second round in table tennis on Saturday. But meeting Michelle Obama on Friday might have been even better.

"She was really nice," the Californian said of the first lady. "She gave me a hug and we took pictures."

Hsing says she also mugged for photo with Michael Phelps and Kobe Bryant. But meeting Michelle Obama was "the biggest." lAnd, of course, the food.

"The Olympics village is so cool. There is so much food there, which I really like." Spoken like a true teenager.

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

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HAPPY ODDSMAKERS

There were some pretty sad-looking people cycling out of central London after Mark Cavendish failed in his bid to win the men's road race.

But at least one group of Brits must be grinning from ear to ear Saturday: the bookmakers.

I bet (sorry) they took a lot of cash on the misfiring Manx Missile. They must surely have cleaned up Friday night when opening ceremony director Danny Boyle picked seven unknown young athletes to light the Olympic cauldron instead of heavily favored four-minute-miler Roger Bannister.

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

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PRESSURIZED

U.S. women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma on the pressure that comes with a 34-game winning streak in the Olympics: "Some day, maybe it's Monday, maybe Wednesday, maybe Friday, Sunday, who knows, the United States is going to lose in the Olympics. ... I'll be disappointed for those players. But the pressure's there whether you worry about it or not."

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

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BRITAIN, NOT YANKS

The Olympics opening ceremony dwarfed the Red Sox-Yankees game for viewership in the New York market. The Yankees' 10-3 win Friday night was seen by an average of 335,000 viewers on the YES Network while the Olympics were viewed by an average of 2,634,000 on WNBC, according to YES.

— Ronald Blum — Twitter http://twitter.com/ronaldblum

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LOCHTE, NOT PHELPS

A U.S. win in swimming just now: Ryan Lochte wins United States' first gold of the London Olympics in the 400 IM. Michael Phelps comes in fourth.

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

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'ABSOLUTE BLAST'

"Isn't beach volleyball fun? The crowd has an absolute blast and the players don't take any of it too seriously." — Michael Rothwell from Wimbledon, who was watching beach volleyball with three male friends — all clad in bikini tops and shorts.

See him and his friends here: http://img.ly/llhV

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

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TRAFFIC JAM

The Uruguayan soccer team is looking for a new mode of transport.

It took them about 7 1/2 hours to go by coach from Manchester to London this week — about three hours more than normal.

"There was a lot of traffic and the bus barely moved on the highway. I don't know what happened, I imagine it was a result of the games," says coach Oscar Tabarez.

Uruguay's players then spent three hours on their feet in Friday's opening ceremony, leaving Tabarez to order them to take a nap on Saturday.

— Paul Logothetis — Twitter http://twitter.com/PaulLogoAP

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GUEST APPEARANCE

Paul McCartney made a cameo at Horse Guards Parade, where he watched two matches of Saturday's opening day. He left his seats, though, right before Britain's men's match against Canada began.

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

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KEEPING IT NATURAL

At the London Olympics in 1908, gold medalists were presented, alongside their medals, with something rather British indeed. The king and queen would present winners with a glass-fronted box of oak leaves from Windsor Castle.

One of those gifts, presented to British wrestler George de Relwyscow, is now on display at the British library as part of an Olympics exhibition. The leaves inside are still intact, but they don't look as lush as they perhaps did on July 25, 1908.

Check it out here: http://www.whosay.com/fergusbell/photos/208240

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

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CATCH UP OVER A CUPPA

First Lady Michelle Obama has had a private meeting with Samantha Cameron, wife of Britain's prime minister, after both women attended Friday's Olympic opening ceremony.

Mrs. Obama met with Mrs. Cameron for a cup of tea at Winfield House, the home of the U.S. ambassador to London, set in lavish grounds at leafy Regent's Park.

Aides to the British leader's wife said the two met for a "catch up" for about 45 minutes.

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

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TAR HEEL BLUE

The easiest thing to notice upon walking into the gym at the University of East London, where the U.S. men's basketball team is practicing, is the color of the walls.

They are a familiar shade to U.S. college sports fans: the light blue of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

And if you think that would bother U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski, since North Carolina is the chief rival of the Duke team he coaches, then you don't know Coach K very well.

Krzyzewski wants to beat all teams, so no one is any more important than another. It's a mentality he carries into his role with USA Basketball.

"It lends itself to this type of thinking since I've been national coach, because we're supposed to win every game and we want to win every game, so why not prepare that way for each opponent?" Krzyzewski says.

The first one on Sunday is France — coincidentally also known as "Les Bleus."

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

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SYRIA'S BALANCING ACT

He's in a delicate position for sure.

The head of Syria's Olympic team at the London Games is choosing his words carefully to describe the ambitions of the country's athletes and the government, whose forces are bombarding his home city of Aleppo.

Maher Khayata said he was worried about his family, trapped in Aleppo during one of the most significant battles of the 17-month uprising in Syria. But he said the army is trying to "protect people and keep them safe."

Three Syrian athletes were competing on the first full day of competition in swimming, shooting and boxing Saturday. Back home, the army pounded Aleppo by helicopters to flush out rebels.

"There are two sides of the dispute," Khayata said. "One of them is fighting to seek power and the other side wants to keep the security of the country."

"I am a sportsman, not a politician. Everyone knows there are armed people and the army that is trying to protect people and keep them safe."

— Barbara Surk — Twitter http://twitter.com/BarbaraSurkAP

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LOUSY SHOPPERS

They might be world-class athletes, but they're apparently lousy shoppers.

A smattering of Olympians have been doing some window shopping at the Westfield Mall on the edge of Olympic Park, rubbing shoulders with thousands of fans and workers at the gleaming consumer's paradise. Only problem: They don't buy anything.

"I am just here to look," Marouane M'rabet, a Tunisian volleyballer, explained apologetically to a sales clerk who had spent the last five minutes rubbing a sample bottle of massage oil onto his forearm.

After he and a teammate walked off, the woman explained the problem.

"They aren't allowed to bring any liquids into the Athletes' Village," she said, a reference to tight security measures at the closed-off complex where the Olympians are housed. "So they never buy anything."

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

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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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