EYES ON LONDON: Twitter uproar, Bieber and judo

July 31, 2012 - 5:38 AM
London Olympics Swimming Women

Kathleen Hersey of the United States reacts after a women's 200-meter butterfly swimming heat at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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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HER MAJESTY: HIP HOP FAN?

Who knew Queen Elizabeth II was a hip hop fan?

Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed that during a performance by one of Britain's hottest rappers at Friday's Olympics opening ceremony, Prince William leaned over and said: "I don't know if you know this, prime minister, but my grandmother is a big fan of Dizzee Rascal.'"

It's safe to assume William was joking. The queen's musical tastes run more to classical than to Rascal, who came to fame through London's gritty grime scene and is best known for his hit "Bonkers."

But the ceremony did reveal an unexpectedly playful side to the 86-year-old British monarch. She played herself in a filmed skit with Daniel Craig, welcoming secret agent James Bond to Buckingham Palace — before stunt doubles parachuted from a helicopter into Olympic Stadium.

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

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BIEBER IS A FAN

Missy Franklin added some star power to her fan base during her breakout performance in the pool.

Teen idol Justin Bieber tweets: "Heard (at)FranklinMissy is a fan of mine. Now I'm a fan of hers too! CONGRATS on winning GOLD! (Hashtag)muchlove."

Franklin may be one of the rising stars in swimming for Team USA, but she's also 17 years old.

"I just died," Franklin tweeted in response. "Thank you!"

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

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TRAFFIC? WHAT TRAFFIC?

London was so worried about all the traffic the Olympics would bring that officials warned people to make alternate arrangements and even work from home if they can.

By many accounts it seems to have worked — and then some.

My commute to work from north London, which usually takes a little over a half hour, took 16 minutes Monday. On Tuesday I made it in 15.

A colleague who has a 55-minute commute from the west found wide open highways and arrived in just 40 minutes. Subway and train operators report fewer delays than usual — and in many cases fewer passengers. Even in central London there are eerily few cars. On Monday night I drove into Soho, a dense warren of theaters and restaurants, and found a parking space. On the street. For free.

That just doesn't happen in London.

— Niko Price — Twitter http://twitter.com/nikoprice

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ONE OF US

The London 2012 boss is a man of the people, at least when it comes to transit: He takes the train to work just like the rest of us.

Sebastian Coe was on the same Javelin train as me this morning from central London to Olympic Park. No song and dance, just low key and shaking hands with anyone who recognized him.

Which wasn't all that many people.

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

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OVERHEARD

A conversation between a policeman and a crowd-control worker at St. Pancras station, indicating that a transit meltdown is not even close.

Policeman: "When is the busiest time at the station?"

Disappointed-looking station worker: "Never."

St. Pancras had been expected to be one of the travel hotspots for the games. Not yet, apparently.

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

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JUDO GEM

Marti Malloy earned the second-ever Olympic judo medal for an American woman, and she was ready.

She proudly displayed the bronze prize for photographers and offered to strike the traditional pose.

"I've been working on my bite," she said Monday night. "I'm not sure if it should be mean or happy."

The 26-year-old Malloy got into judo when her parents enrolled her in a free class on a military base when she was growing up in Oak Harbor, Wash. She went on to compete at San Jose State University, and 92-year-old coach Yoshihiro Uchida made the trip to London to see her big win.

Malloy's three brothers also learned judo when they were kids, and she said she felt fortunate to be involved with the sport.

"Judo is one of those sports that in the U.S. obviously isn't very well known but is the thing that will teach you the most about discipline, respect, hard work, dedication," she says. "I know all sports are like that but judo especially, those are the ideals that the sport is built around."

— Jay Cohen — Twitter http://twitter.com/jcohenap

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QUICKQUOTE: MAY-TREANOR ON MCENROE

"He's not too bad. He's just missing the tan." — U.S. beach volleyballer Misty May-Treanor on hitting the ball around with John McEnroe.

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

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STILL TOP DRAW

They didn't have their bikinis on, but Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings were still the top draw at Beach Volleyball.

The Americans won to remain undefeated since the start of the Athens Games. That's a streak of two gold medals, 16 matches and 32 consecutive sets.

"It's the game, it's the intensity and it's the venue that brings other athletes out," May-Treanor says. "That's what the Olympic spirit is all about."

The American duo donned full-sleeved shirts and long pants. May-Treanor said it wasn't the coldest weather they'd ever played in, but the electricity from the crowd keeps them hyped — and thus warm.

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

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DJOKOVIC VS. RODDICK

Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick will meet in the second round of the men's tennis competition on Tuesday.

Djokovic is the second seed in the tournament, while Roddick is unseeded. That doesn't mean Djokovic is overlooking the three-time Wimbledon finalist.

"Andy has one of the strongest serves in the world, ever, and it's his biggest weapon," Djokovic says. "The grass courts this year are very fast and it's a low bounce, so I think I will have to be on top of my game in order to win that match."

Roddick is back at the Olympics after skipping the Beijing Games. He knows it won't be easy to stay around London much longer against the powerful Djokovic.

"The guy has been the best player in the world over the last couple of years. It's going to be tough," Roddick said. "But the situation, we've both been through it a million times. I'm going to have to serve well and take some chances on returns."

— Christopher Torchia

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ANOTHER TUNE-UP

It's tune-up time for the United States men's basketball team. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Co. got a nice test in their opener against France, a team with plenty of NBA talent on its roster.

The Americans still cruised past France with little problem, and now it's on to much lighter fare. They play Tunisia on Tuesday night and Nigeria on Thursday, two teams that are expected to make them barely break a sweat. They meet Lithuania on Saturday.

The game against Tunisia will be a chance for the U.S. to work out a few of the kinks that showed up against France, and possibly treat the crowd to a few more of the high-flying dunks and fast breaks everyone has come to expect from the best team in the world.

"When you play games in your pool and you're a significant favorite, you don't want to just win, you want to maintain and build good habits," coach Mike Krzyzewski says.

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

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FIT FOR JUMPING

Zara's horse: cleared.

High Kingdom, the horse of Olympic royal Zara Phillips, was cleared Tuesday to compete in the final show jumping phase of the equestrian eventing competition.

In eventing, judges and veterinarians inspect the horses once before the dressage portion, and again after the arduous cross-country event to make sure they're fit enough to handle the fences of the show jump final.

On Monday, Princes William and Harry cheered their cousin Phillips on as she rode High Kingdom over 28 obstacles and through a slippery cross-country course in Greenwich Park that helped put Britain in second place in the team standings. Germany leads, with Sweden in third.

During Tuesday's inspection, Phillips trotted High Kingdom before the judges, who promptly declared him "accepted."

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

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IT'S GO TIME

If the United States women's gymnastics team is going to capture its first gold medal since 1996, they're going to need a bounce-back performance from Jordyn Wieber.

The women's team final kicks off on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. London time, and the Americans are expected to be in a tight duel with Russia for the gold. The U.S. beat the Russians for the gold at the world championships last year, getting some revenge against Russia for a loss in 2010.

Wieber did not qualify for the all-around competition in London, so now she'll be relied upon to help them hold off Russia for the big prize.

"We're going to have cheer her up and hype her up," teammate Gabby Douglas says.

— Janie McCauley — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/janiemccAP

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OBAMALYMPICS?

We know that FLOTUS (first lady of the United States Michelle Obama) has cheered on the Olympians from the stands in London. But what about POTUS (president of the U.S.), who stayed home?

The White House couldn't say whether President Barack Obama has been watching but thought it likely.

"I know that he was looking forward to the Olympics starting so I'd be surprised if 72 hours into it he hadn't seen it yet," deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday as Obama flew Air Force One to New York for an evening fundraiser. Campaign spokeswoman Jenn Psaki joked that the Olympics would be forced onto all the plane's TVs to improve the odds.

Here's what could be seen in the back cabin: Korea v. Denmark in handball, and weightlifters from Indonesia and Turkey. No word on what Obama was doing up front.

— Nancy Benac — Twitter http://twitter.com/nbenac

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TRAIN TROUBLE

Getting to Olympic Park might be tough Tuesday morning.

British transport officials are suspending subway service on trains running to east London's Stratford, close to many of the Olympic venues.

Apparently, a driver reported smelling smoke on a train. Passengers are all OK.

No word on when the subway will be back up and running, and officials recommend that spectators try using other routes to get to the park.

— Cassandra Vinograd — Twitter: https://twitter.com/CassVinograd

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TWITTER INSULT ARREST

In Britain, tweeting messages considered menacing can lead to prosecution, and now there are reports of an arrest in the Twitter insult against British diver Tom Daley.

Dorset Police tweeted Tuesday morning: "Regarding tweets to (at) TomDaley1994 — 17-year-old man arrested this morning at a guest house in the Weymouth area."

Daley's father died of brain cancer a year ago and the 18-year-old Olympian had hoped win a medal "for myself and my dad." But he finished finishing fourth, out of medal contention, in the 10-meter synchronized platform with teammate Pete Waterfield.

Afterward, Twitter user (at)Rileyy69 sent him this message: "You let your dad down i hope you know that."

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

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MENTALLY STRONG

After two tours of duty in Iraq, U.S. boxer Jamel Herring laughs at the idea he'll be nervous when he takes the London ring for his first bout Tuesday. The American light welterweight feels his military training and the tragedy of his daughter's unexpected death in her crib have prepared him for anything Kazakhstan's Daniyar Yeleussinov can throw at him.

"I've already been through the worst times," Herring said after a recent workout. "This right here, it's not an easy break, but it's a lot different from being in Iraq. I've been through the hardships. I know what it takes. I'm mentally strong. I know what I've got to do when I go out there."

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

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PHOTO MAGIC

This multiple exposure photo captures the coming and going of France's Lionel Guyon on his horse Nemetis de Lalou during a jump.

AP photographer Charlie Riedel made the image of the equestrian eventing cross-country stage on Sunday. Working with the latest cameras allows for very sophisticated multiple exposure technology.

Here's a photo gallery of multiple exposure photos from the Olymics: http://apne.ws/MPkdVO

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AUTUMN GAMES?

The Summer Olympics haven't always been held in the summer. The 1956 games in Melbourne, Australia, were held in the autumn (Nov. 22-Dec. 8) because of the reverse of seasons in the Southern Hemisphere. The exception was the equestrian events: Due to a six-month quarantine requirement for horses to be admitted into the country, those events were held in June in Sweden, more than five months before the opening ceremony in Australia.

-Source: "Pursuit of Excellence, The Olympic Story" by The Associated Press and Grolier

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ASLEEP AT THE SWITCH?

NBC must really think everybody knows the results before showing a tape-delayed race, or else someone was asleep at the switch.

The network ran a "Today" show promo about interviewing Missy Franklin on her swimming gold medal — just BEFORE televising the race.

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

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BIG NIGHT FOR PHELPS

After missing the medal podium in his first swim in London and taking a surprising silver in the 4x100 freestyle relay, Michael Phelps is back for two more shots at another gold medal on Tuesday. He will try to defend his title in the 200-meter butterfly and also swim in the 4x200 freestyle final.

Phelps had the fifth-fastest time in the 200 fly preliminaries on Monday, and he feels ready to go again.

"I'm pretty happy with that swim," Phelps said. "That's all I needed it to be."

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

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'STUPID RULE'

"In this system it's a shame that the all-around champion doesn't get to compete in the finals at the Olympics because of a stupid rule." — John Geddert, coach of reigning world champion Jordyn Wieber, who will miss a shot at Olympic gold in Thursday's Olympic gymnastics all-around finals because international rules allow only two competitors per country.

— Will Graves — Twitter http://twitter.com/WillGravesAP

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JUDO GEM

Marti Malloy earned the second-ever Olympic judo medal for an American woman, and she was ready.

She proudly displayed the bronze prize for photographers and offered to strike the traditional pose.

"I've been working on my bite," she said Monday night. "I'm not sure if it should be mean or happy."

The 26-year-old Malloy got into judo when her parents enrolled her in a free class on a military base when she was growing up in Oak Harbor, Wash. She went on to compete at San Jose State University, and 92-year-old coach Yoshihiro Uchida made the trip to London to see her big win.

Malloy's three brothers also learned judo when they were kids, and she said she felt fortunate to be involved with the sport.

"Judo is one of those sports that in the U.S. obviously isn't very well known but is the thing that will teach you the most about discipline, respect, hard work, dedication," she said. "I know all sports are like that but judo especially, those are the ideals that the sport is built around."

— Jay Cohen — Twitter http://twitter.com/jcohenap

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RATINGS WIN

The Nielsen company says 36 million people watched NBC's Olympic coverage Sunday night, the biggest audience for the second night of a non-U.S. summer Olympics competition since TV began covering them in 1960.

Counting the opening ceremonies on Friday, an average of 35.8 million people have tuned in for the three nights. That's well above the 30.6 million who watched the first three nights in Beijing in 2008 and considerably more than the 24 million who saw the first three nights of the Athens games of 2004.

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

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STRICT MUM

Talk about strict parenting.

New Zealand kayaker Mike Dawson made the semifinals of the kayak slalom at the Olympics despite being given a two-second penalty by his mother Kay — who is a judge at the games.

Dawson touched gate five when going down the 18-gate Olympic course on Sunday, and his mother didn't hesitate to penalize her son. It was one of two two-second penalties Dawson received, but he still advanced to Wednesday's semis.

Dawson joked in an email to The Associated Press on Monday that he was tempted to get his coach to put in a protest "about that particular judge."

It would have made dinnertime at the Dawsons even more awkward. His coach is father Les.

"That would've had all sorts of ramifications after the Olympics and besides, I like mum's cooking too much!" Dawson joked in his message to AP.

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

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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