EYES ON LONDON: Electric 100-meter dash coming up

August 5, 2012 - 1:40 AM
London Olympics Athletics Men

Jamaica's Yohan Blake leads a men's 100-meter heat during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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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LET'S RUN TWO TODAY

The fastest men in the world on one of the fastest tracks around. Should make for an electric night in the 100-meter dash.

Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and the rest of a blazing will run in the semifinals, with the fastest advancing to the finals on Sunday night.

Bolt was just OK in the preliminaries on Saturday, starting poorly on his way to a 10.09. That's good for sixth fastest, but the world record holder says he feels great heading into the big day. Americans Ryan Bailey and Justin Gatlin are also in the mix.

"My legs are great. My training has been great," Bolt says. "I'm feeling better."

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

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ANYONE FOR ENNIS?

This wasn't a competition. It was a coronation.

With a healthy lead in the heptathlon, Britain's Olympic poster girl Jessica Ennis could almost have walked around the final event, the 800 meters. But the roars of 80,000 fans carried her over the line in first place.

As she headed around the second and last lap, the Olympic Stadium announcer implored the crowd to make more noise. And, somehow, they did. And they carried her over the line in first place.

I've been in some noisy stadiums in my time (vuvuzelas in South Africa, anybody?) but this felt — I could physically feel the roar — like the loudest by far.

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

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CYCLING FIREFIGHTER

A 29-year-old firefighter from California is preparing to compete in the quarterfinals of the sprint tournament, track cycling's blue-ribbon event.

Jimmy Watkins is a full-time firefighter who keeps a bike next to his fire engine so he can train. He's says he's appreciative of all of the guys who are covering his shifts back home at the Kern County Fire Department so he can compete.

"Everybody is just super supportive. It's cool to know that you have a lot of people behind you. It make you not want to let them down because a lot of people have sacrificed a lot for me to be here," Watkins said. "I just want to make sure that I don't waste any of their effort."

— Samuel Petrequin — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/sampetrequin

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HE DELIVERED, SHE DIDN'T

Britain's Mo Farah couldn't contain his excitement as he won the 10,000 meters gold medal. But his wife Tania, seven months pregnant, was desperately trying to keep her emotions in check.

The Somali-born Farah embraced his wife, and their young daughter on the track after his Olympic winning run. Tania had earlier joked that being at the stadium at all was probably a risk. The raucous atmosphere, she suggested, could send her into labor early.

She said she'd even checked that there would be doctors on hand at the stadium. Just in case.

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

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CHANGING HIS SPIKES

Marquise Goodwin is headed from the sand pit to the football field.

Goodwin will trade in his track spikes for his cleats. The wide receiver for the Texas Longhorns plans to head back from the Olympics to begin preparing for the upcoming season.

He said practice starts Sunday, and wasn't sure if he'd get any time off.

"I don't know. I didn't get a medal," he said.

Goodwin was struggling to come to terms Saturday night with his defeat.

"Man, started off fouled my first jump which was my farthest jump. Couldn't get on the board," he said. "Disappointing day, I let everyone down. I gave it all I had. I just didn't have it."

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

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MINI MINIS

They are electric, radio controlled, pretty nippy and represent a British icon.

They are the three "mini Minis" introduced to the field of play to shuttle javelins, discuses, shots and hammers from the field back to the throwing area.

BMW say that the vehicles — approximately a quarter scale of the full sized version — will save valuable time during the competition.

Specially trained Gamesmakers are operating the cars - but from what I saw they could still do with a bit of practice.

One drove into a microphone and distance marker on Saturday evening, knocking them askew.

However, it doesn't sound like it is all hard work for the little cars who are expected to cover about 6-kilometers per four hour shift - a member of the stadium staff whispered to me that when everyone had left on Friday night the mini Minis were seen racing each other down the athletics track.

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

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MEDAL DREAMS DASHED

South Korea's soccer team beat Britain 5-4 in a penalty shootout on Saturday night, ending the host country's hopes for an Olympic medal in the sport it invented.

Britain hadn't fielded a men's Olympic soccer team since 1960, and there's no guarantee that the nation will field another unified team. With opposition from the football associations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, few see any chance of another team at the 2016 Rio Games.

— Chris Brummitt — Twitter http://twitter.com/cjbrummitt

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STAMPS OF APPROVAL

Britons are busy celebrating their record Olympic gold medal haul, but some are working harder than others to mark the occasion.

Spare a thought for the staff at Britain's Royal Mail, who are working overtime to rush out special next-day stamps for each of the six gold medals won by British athletes Saturday.

The Royal Mail has promised fans that a celebratory stamp will be issued within 24 hours of each British gold medal win.

The mail service says it has never before issued stamps on a Sunday — it would be hard put to find a better reason to break the rule.

— Sylvia Hui — Twitter http://twitter.com/sylviahui

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PRESIDENTIAL CHEERS

The White House's official Twitter account, which has been tweeting busily to congratulate U.S. Olympic athletes on their medal wins, posted this message from first lady Michelle Obama:

"Wow (at)MichaelPhelps! Barack & I have been cheering you on! We're so proud of you & what you've accomplished. -mo"

— Sylvia Hui — Twitter http://twitter.com/sylviahui

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FOR THE FUTURE

"Hopefully we are inspiring the next generation." — Jessica Ennis, British winner of heptathlon gold Saturday night.

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

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THE CROWD LIFTS

"If it wasn't for the crowd I don't think that would happen. They give you that lift, that boost. A lot of people thought having the Olympics in London was a lot of pressure. Obviously there is pressure, but sometimes you can't think about it. You've just got to use the crowd. I think every single one of us who won a gold medal used the crowd." — Britain's Mo Farah, gold medal winner in the 10,000 meter race.

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

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MORE GOLD FOR FRASER-PRYCE

A milestone for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce arrived as a milestone passed for her country.

"I want to tell Jamaica: Happy 50th anniversary," said Fraser-Pryce, fresh from her second consecutive gold medal for the women's 100 meters Saturday night. This weekend marks 50 years since the country became independent from Britain.

Fraser-Pryce closed ground over the last 20 meters and leaning at the line to win in 10.75 seconds and edge American Carmelita Jeter by .03 seconds. Another Jamaican, Veronica Campbell-Brown, finished third for her second career 100-meter bronze.

When the scoreboard finally flashed her in the No. 1 position, Fraser-Pryce dropped to the ground and cried. She ran to the stands, grabbed a Jamaican flag and paraded around with her teammate, Campbell-Brown, known as "VCB" on the island. She's not finished in London yet, either. VCB is the two-time defending champion in the 200, where she'll have Fraser-Pryce to contend with again, along with American Allyson Felix.

— Eddie Pells — Twitter http://twitter.com/epells

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BRITISH SUPERLATIVE

"It's the greatest night in British athletics history, I think." — British long jump gold medalist Greg Rutherford

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

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FOR AURORA

Missy Franklin's breakout performance in the London Games has given the grief-stricken town of Aurora, Colo., a whole lot to smile about. Franklin capped a brilliant Olympic debut with a gold medal in the 4x100 individual medley relay on Saturday night, giving her four gold medals and a bronze.

"I hope this means a lot to them," Franklin says. "I have constantly been thinking about them throughout this whole time. Everything I did here is dedicated to them."

Franklin is from the Denver suburb of Centennial and goes to high school in Aurora, where a mass shooting in a movie theater on July 20 shook the town to its core.

"It was so, so terrible what happened and it's still hard to believe it really did happen," Franklin says. "I hope that I was able to bring some smiles back to Colorado. The supportive tweets and Facebook posts I've been getting, so many people have been saying that I've been doing that. That just means the world to me."

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

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'TIME OF MY LIFE'

"I've had the time of my life here and that gets me excited for what's coming next. ... It's so unreal and so above anything I could've ever imagined." — U.S. swimmer Missy "The Missile" Franklin, after capping off a brilliant Olympic debut by helping the U.S. take gold in the women's 400 medley relay with a world-record time.

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PHELPS: THE FUTURE

"It's just time to move on. There are other things I want to do in my life. I'm not sure staring at a black line for four hours a day is one of them." — Michael Phelps on his post-Olympian future.

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

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ENNIS' GOLD

She grinned, blew kisses, and jumped up and down. Then Jessica Ennis leaned in for her gold medal, grinning ear to ear as the crowd roared and the music played — "God Save the Queen."

Before the medal ceremony, Ennis said of how she felt: "Massive relief. To come into this event with all that pressure with everyone just saying 'Oh, you are going to win gold. You are going to win gold.' I know how hard it has been to win it. Yeah, I just can't believe I've done it. All that pressure is off me now. It's so nice."

For Britain, this is a moment to remember.

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

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THEY ROAR FOR MO

Olympic Stadium is roaring for Mo Farah, and for the rest of his family.

The British distance runner turned on the jets on the final lap to run away with the men's 10,000 meters on Saturday night. Farah collapsed to the track in tears, then made the shape of a heart to tell 80,000 adoring fans that the feeling was mutual.

Minutes later, Farah's wife and stepdaughter met him on the track, and he scooped up his little girl in a warm embrace.

The family posed for pictures as the cheers continued, a family portrait that will be difficult to top.

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

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QUICKQUOTE: BRITISH PM ON ENNIS

"Awe-inspiring win for Jessica Ennis. Proud to be cheering her on with the home crowd." — British Prime Minister David Cameron after Ennis won gold in the women's heptathlon.

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

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PARTING GIFT

One last ovation, one last trophy, one last ceremony for Michael Phelps.

FINA president Julio Maglione honored Phelps with a special individual ceremony on the final night of his record-breaking Olympic career. Phelps finishes his career with a record 22 career medals and 18 golds.

Maglione handed Phelps a silver trophy to commemorate his brilliant career, and the touching gesture leaves just one question unanswered:

Shouldn't the trophy have been gold, too?

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

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TAKEN BY SURPRISE

They weren't expecting that one. The home crowd just went wild as Britain's Greg Rutherford took gold in the men's long jump.

From the surprised look on Rutherford's face, he couldn't quite believe it either.

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

PIXIE CUT

Chinese table tennis player Ding Ning is getting some good reviews at the Olympics for her trendy hairstyle — a short pixie cut with warm highlights.

(Coming clean: As a man with a shaved head, I had to do research to get the description right.)

"I like my hairstyle," the 22-year-old said Saturday. "I think it kind of suits my personality. It is kind of bright and lively. There isn't a special reason why I dyed my hair this color. At times I like to change things around and get a new look."

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

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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.