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EYES ON LONDON: US world record, love in the air

Associated Press
United States' women's 4 x100-meter relay team members, from left, Carmelita Jeter, Bianca Knight, Tianna Madison and Allyson Felix, celebrate their gold medal win during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. The United States relay team set a new world record with a time of 40.82 seconds (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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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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FAST AND FLASH

Carmelita Jeter has some flash to go with her speed.

Jeter crossed the finish line pointing the baton at the clock, which showed a world record of 40.82 for the U.S. women's 4x100-meter relay team. That shattered the old record of 41.37 set by East Germany way back in 1985. It also was the Americans' first gold in the relay since 1996.

Jeter and the other three members of the relay team — Tianna Madison, 200-meter champion Allyson Felix and Bianca Knight — wrapped themselves in flags and then looked up at the Jumbotron to watch the replay. When the shot of Jeter crossing the line was shown, Knight thrust her fist in the air.

— Nancy Armour — Twitter http://twitter.com/nrarmour

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MARRY ME!

It brings a whole new meaning to Olympic rings.

Love is in the air during the 2012 games, it seems. The question has been popped an estimated 25 times under the large, multi-colored rings inside Olympic Park.

Bram Lobeek, from Utrecht in the Netherlands, finally found the moment he had been looking for all year.

After watching the Dutch men's hockey team beat South Korea this week, he convinced his reluctant girlfriend of almost 10 years to line up for a photo by the rings.

He didn't explain his motive — and fretted as she started to look bored.

His girlfriend, Hetty van der Pennen, recalled wondering why she was wasting her time there.

"So I was standing and I said 'what is he doing?' and he was pointing at the Olympic rings and he said 'well, these are yours,'" she said Friday. "I said: 'What?' Then he went down on his knees."

— Corrin Grant

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NO MEDAL FOR OSCAR

There will be no medal for Oscar Pistorius at the London Olympics after the double amputee and his South African teammates finished last in the 4x400-meter relay Friday night.

The South Africans were out of the medals by the time Pistorius took the handoff for the anchor leg, with the Bahamians and Americans already around the second curve. His only hope was catching Venezuela, and he wasn't able to do it. The South Africans finished in 3:03.46, almost seven seconds behind Bahama.

— Nancy Armour — Twitter http://twitter.com/nrarmour

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KOBE DOMINATING EARLY STAGES

Dwight Howard may be influencing these Summer Games without even being in London.

Hours after the Lakers acquired the star center from the Orlando Magic in a blockbuster trade, his new teammate Kobe Bryant started the semifinal against Argentina with a little extra hop in his step.

After being relatively quiet by his standards on the scoring front, Bryant came out firing against Argentina. He hit three 3-pointers and threw down a reverse dunk in the first four minutes.

He also dived on the floor for a loose ball to help the Americans to a 15-4 lead early in the first quarter.

Maybe getting a center that thrusts the Lakers back into the middle of the title hunt has given the 33-year-old Bryant a little extra juice.

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

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AGONY OF DEFEAT

Morgan Uceny's shoulders heaved as she knelt on the track and pounded her hands on the surface.

The American fell to the ground as she and the rest of the 1,500-meter field rounded the first curve on the final lap. She looked around in surprise and then leaned over and buried her face in her hands. She stayed like that even after Turkey's Asli Cakir Alptekin, who won the gold medal, crossed the finish line. An Olympic volunteer approached her as the other runners were leaving the track and she did not respond, continuing to sob and pound on the track.

Finally, with the other runners already making their way through the mixed zone, Uceny got up, shielding her eyes with her hands, her shoulders still shaking.

— Nancy Armour — Twitter http://twitter.com/nrarmour

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ARGENTINE PREGAME

The exuberant Argentine team pregame dance party is one of the most enjoyable aspects of Olympic basketball.

Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and the rest of the team huddle just off the court, bouncing in unison and shouting a song at the top of their lungs. Scola is the ringleader, hopping as if on a pogo stick, his long hair whipping through the air.

They're going to need all that energy and more against the Americans in the semifinal Friday night. They've met in this round three times in a row, and Argentina won in 2004 on its way to gold in Athens.

The winner heads into the gold-medal game.

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

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PAU POWER

Pau Gasol is simply a different player when he is leading Spain as opposed to when he is Kobe Bryant's sidekick with the Lakers.

In Los Angeles, he's criticized often for being "soft," unwilling to play physical.

With Spain, however, he is the team's gritty backbone, the one they look to when things aren't going so well.

That much was clear Friday night in the semifinal against Russia, when Spain trailed by double digits going into the third quarter.

But Gasol hit a 3-pointer, then threw down a rebound dunk over 7-footer Timofey Mozgov that made it 44-43 in the third.

The surge galvanized Spain, which rolled to a 67-59 win and a place in the gold-medal game.

"It's huge to make it twice in a row to the Olympic finals," Gasol says. "We don't want to be satisfied with just getting to the final."

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

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EXPLAINER: SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING

If synchronized swimming looks easy to you, then the team in the pool is doing its job.

One of the criteria used to judge routines is how easy the swimmers make it look. The harder the routine, and the easier it looks, the bigger the score on a 100-point scale.

The sport is a combination of swimming, ballet and acrobatics that requires complex and sometimes frenetic movements underwater to make what happens above the water look so graceful.

The teams perform elaborate routines using skills like sculling (using your hands under water to get your body moving), lifting (when swimmers band together to propel a teammate out of the water) and the essential eggbeater kick (to tread water).

Routines are scored on technical merit and artistry. Judges look both at the presentation above the water and the techniques used to under water to make it all happen.

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

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RUSSIANS FALTER

Future NBA teammates Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved helped the Russians steamroll into the men's basketball semifinals, using teamwork and synergy to spark the offense.

But they were nowhere to be found Friday in the semifinal against Spain. Kirilenko had 10 points and eight rebounds, but he missed 10 of his 12 shots and five free throws. He says he was bothered by a quadriceps injury in the quarterfinals.

"He wasn't the guy we've seen all tournament," Russian coach David Blatt says.

Shved also struggled, managing two points on 1-for-6 shooting, six rebounds and four assists.

Both will play for the Minnesota Timberwolves next season.

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

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SURGING SPAIN

Early in his rookie NBA season, Ricky Rubio told Kobe Bryant that Spain was going to beat the U.S. in the Olympics.

Unfortunately Rubio was only watching Spain in London. The Minnesota Timberwolves guard is recovering from a torn ACL and is unavailable. So instead of wearing his white Spanish jersey in the semifinal against Russia, Rubio was wearing a green T-shirt and watching from the stands.

But he's on the right track thinking that Spain is not bad. Spain just beat Russia 67-59 and could face the U.S. in the gold-medal game if the Americans top Argentina later Friday. — Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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QUICKQUOTE: PAU ON DWIGHT

"It puts us in a position of trying to win the championship and going after it. There's going to be expectations of being a very strong and powerful team, and we like that." — Lakers forward Pau Gasol on the acquisition of Dwight Howard.

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

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GORDON GOT HIS RUN

Track official Gordon Staines has two special words for Usain Bolt: Thank you!

Staines is the guy who fired the gun to start the men's 200 meter final, and he's downright thrilled that Bolt and his other competitors stayed "steady" at the start of the race and that no one had to be disqualified.

"You only get one false start," he said Friday. "I know I breathed a big, big sigh of relief when the gun went and they went and there was no recall."

Staines is one of the thousands of people who perform those anonymous tasks that make the Olympics happen. But who would want the job of potentially disqualifying Bolt?

He's been doing this for 25 years, though, and the nerves were steady. And to take part, in London no less, was "the icing on the cake."

"You can't get any higher than the Olympics," he said.

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

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NO TEAM? COMPETE FOR US

If she had won a gold medal, which flag would Shara Proctor have draped around her shoulders?

The 23-year-old athlete lives in Florida and hails from Anguilla, a Caribbean island of around 15,500 people close to Puerto Rico.

But the long jumper competes for Britain, under rules linked to the U.K.'s colonial past.

While three of Britain's 14 overseas territories have their own Olympic teams in London — Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands — other ex-colonies don't have International Olympic Committees and so can't field a squad.

Proctor was handed a spot by the Great Britain team, placing 9th in the women's high jump.

"We are very proud to have her," British foreign minister Alistair Burt said Friday.

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

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RAY'S RETURN

London has changed quite a bit since 89-year-old Ray Lumpp came to compete in the 1948 Olympics.

Lumpp recalled St. Paul's Cathedral as being a dome surrounded by rubble. He remembered the food rationing and the military barracks at Uxbridge where the U.S. basketball team slept.

But what impressed him the most was the warmth and resilience of the British people, who put on the games even though they were struggling themselves.

"Whatever the British people had, they shared with us," he said.

The gold medalist is back in the capital as a special guest of the U.S. men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski — a little special something to motivate the team.

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

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FANCY FOOTWORK

Running, jumping and swimming are all fine, but who will win Olympic gold for celebratory dancing?

These games have offered some shining examples, from boxer Claressa Shields' combination jig-and-fist bump to Serena Williams' "Crip Walk" on center court at Wimbledon.

My bronze dancing medal goes to Kenyan runner Ezekiel Kemboi, who celebrated steeplechase gold with a hip-swiveling, arm-shaking peacock dance.

Silver goes to German discus thrower Robert Harting. On winning gold, the behemoth roared, ripped his shirt to shreds like the Incredible Hulk, grabbed a German flag, ran a lap of the track over the hurdles and then tried to wrench one of the burning torches from the Olympic cauldron. Not so much a dance as a force of nature.

The gold medal is awarded to — who's surprised? — Usain Bolt, for his supremely confident response to winning the 200 meters on Thursday. The self-proclaimed living legend glided across the finish line, placed an index finger to his lips in a silent reproach to those who had doubted him, then dropped to the track and did some push-ups.

The crowd went wild.

— Jill Lawless http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

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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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