EYES ON LONDON: Red, white, blue and nostalgia

United States' Sanya Richards-Ross, front left, competes in a women's 400-meter heat during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

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:


U.S. runners Sanya Richards-Ross and DeeDee Trotter won their 400-meter qualifying races Friday with relative ease - and in stylish fashion.

Richards-Ross wore an all-red combination, with her fingernails painted different versions of red, white and blue.

Trotter had a small American flag painted next to her right eye - complete with glitter and sparkling jewels.

"This is a mild version of what you'll get in the finals," Trotter says. "This is just the beginning. Tomorrow it'll be a little more dramatic, right 'til we get to the war paint to where it's really on to get there and get that grind on."

Trotter raced in heavy rain at Olympic Stadium. And no surprise, she was prepared for it. Trotter's face paint was waterproof.

"It's sweatproof, too," she says.

Richards-Ross has more outfits planned for Saturday and beyond.

"We have so many different options in our kit now, so I feel it's cool to be able to wear different outfits through the rounds," she says. "This is first-round look. I'll have something else on tomorrow."

- Mark Long - Twitter http://twitter.com/apmarklong


To an infrequent observer of cycling competition, the cyclist acting in the role of the pacer in the Keirin track-cycling event looks a little odd.

He's dressed all in black and rides a motorized bike that looks like it's come straight out of early 20th century Paris. He appears to almost sneak up on the competitors.

A gun fires and the race starts.

He eventually leaves the track in the same quiet, dignified manner with which he arrived.

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


Best avoid the Olympic swimming pool until it's drained after the games: American swimming star Ryan Lochte, who won five medals in London, has admitted to urinating in the pool.

Not during the races, he told U.S. broadcaster Ryan Seacrest - "but I sure did in warmup."

Um ... why? "I think there's just something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go."

- Rob Harris - Twitter http://twitter.com/robharris


To say five-time Olympian Natalie Cook has fond memories of winning the gold medal in her home country is perhaps a bit of an understatement.

"Sept. 25, 2000, 2:30 in the afternoon," she interrupts when a reporter begins to ask about the Sydney Games. "I remember where the ball landed. I remember where my family was. I remember everything."

The 37-year-old Australian commemorates the date every year by meeting then-partner Kerri Pottharst at Bondi Beach, where the venue was located, to share a glass of champagne. If one of them can't make it to Sydney, they speak on the phone.

Cook has been to every games since beach volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1996, winning a bronze medal in Atlanta with Pottharst. They won gold four years later at Bondi.

"I continue to try to have that again," she said Friday in a meet-and-greet with reporters organized by the FIVB. "But it would never be the same."

Cook played in Athens and Beijing with Nicole Sanderson. She has been in London with Tasmin Hinchley, but the two were eliminated in pool play.

And that's it for Cook. Looking down at the venue practice courts, where the Swiss women were preparing for Saturday's match, she says, "It's funny. I have no desire to be out there."


A view of Olympic Park now comes at a price.

A department store overlooking the games venue has started charging visitors to look out a window onto the Olympic site.

Word has spread that the John Lewis shop in the Westfield Stratford City mall offers an excellent view over the park, and the store says it has introduced the fee to help manage the crowds.

John Lewis says income from the 2 pound ($3.20) per adult fee will go to local charities.

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


It's been the most epic battle on the London Olympic tennis courts so far.

Top-ranked Roger Federer of Switzerland and Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina battled over four hours to 17 games each in the third set after del Potro won the first set and Federer the second.

The number of chances each had to put away the other needed to be counted on both fingers and toes - ticket holders certainly got their money's worth.

In the end, Federer pulled it out, breaking del Potro to win 19-17 in the third.

Federer, the king of tennis, won gold in doubles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but has never won an individual Olympic medal.

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


How heavy are the bars for Olympic weightlifters? A pair of male volunteers at the ExCel Centre unwittingly helped illustrate that.

Russia's Nadezda Evstyukhina's 125-kilogram bar (275.5 pounds) rolled off the platform Friday after she failed to register a clean lift.

The volunteers had to lift and carry the bar roughly three inches and five feet to get it back onto the platform. They looked like they were struggling with it a bit, too.

Kazakhstan's Svetlana Podobedova promptly stepped up and threw 126 pounds above her head.

She made it look easy.

- Luke Meredith - Twitter http://twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP


How do you celebrate a goal in the Olympics? The U.S. women have a new answer: cartwheels.

The Americans were playing New Zealand at St. James' Park in Newcastle on Friday. Abby Wambach took a fine cross from Alex Morgan in the first half and poked it behind the New Zealand goalie for a 1-0 lead.

Wambach and Megan Rapinoe did side-by-side cartwheels. Midfielder Lauren Cheney went one better - a full frontal flip to celebrate Wambach's goal.

The U.S. women eventually won 2-0.

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


- There are 10 gold medals up for grabs in the velodrome (5 for men, 5 for women).

- The track cycling events are spread out over six days of competition.

- The velodrome can seat 6,000 people.

- 250 meters (802 feet) of track was installed over a period of eight weeks by 26 specialist carpenters.

- 56 kilometers (35 miles) of surface timber was used on the track, fixed with 300,000 nails.

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


The Americans finally showed up at the velodrome.

Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch, Jennie Reed and Lauren Tamayo got onto the hyper-fast Siberian pine wood surface to qualify for the women's team pursuit Friday. Bobby Lea and Jimmy Watkins were also scheduled to race later in the track cycling program.

The U.S. team's designated stall in the paddock area of the infield was empty Thursday, when there was men's team pursuit qualifying and medals decided in men's and women's team sprints.

The U.S. team failed to qualify for any of those events.

They're aiming to rectify that embarrassment by the 2016 Rio Games. They've hired Jamie Staff, part of the British sprint team that won gold in Beijing, to overhaul their sprinting program.

Staff watched as 19-year-old Philip Hindes joined his former teammates Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy to deliver Britain another gold medal in the men's team sprint on the opening day of the track cycling program.

- Dave Skretta - Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APdaveskretta


Italian volleyball player Antonella Del Core already has claimed gold at the London Olympics - in the form of an engagement ring.

After a preliminary-round match earlier this week, the 31-year-old wing spiker went to the stands to hug her boyfriend, and he surprised her by presenting her with a ring and popping the question.

And ... pause for effect ... she said yes.

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


Britain's Jessica Ennis started the heptathlon on fire, blazing to a 12.54 in the 100 hurdles that would have won the gold in Beijing.

"I'm still so shocked, I can't believe it," Ennis says. "If it was 12.8 or 12.7, I would've been happy. But .54? I don't know. I'm just so glad I did it here."

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


Ah, kids.

U.S. center Anthony Davis sat on the bench in the first half of Thursday night's 156-73 demolition of Nigeria because he wasn't wearing his jersey. The 19-year-old realized he didn't have on his uniform top as he was about to check into the game. It's not clear if one of his teammates hid it on him or he simply forgot to slip it on.

Davis went into the Olympic game during the second half, apparently after retrieving the jersey at halftime.

The teenager finished with 9 points as the Americans made 29 3-pointers and smashed several team and Olympic records in the blowout.

- Tom Withers - Twitter http://twitter.com/twithersAP


After a magnificent unveiling at the opening ceremony, the Olympic cauldron kept a low profile during the first week of the London Games.

Now it's taken center stage.

Many visitors griped about not being able to see it while it was hidden in Olympic Stadium for the first week. It's hard to blame them. It's an impressive sight to behold.

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


AP photographer Gregory Bull knew it would come - the moment when Gabby Douglas does that little bit extra.

Her leap, high above the beam, in the women's all-round individual gymnastics competition on Thursday is one of the iconic shots of the London Games.

"I know there is that one moment where she jumps higher and stretches further back than everyone else," said the San Diego-based photographer who has covered Douglas a number of times. "I knew that key moment was coming - and I knew I should wait and nail it."

Denis Paquin, AP's deputy director of photography, says the beauty of the shot lies in the combination of "the graceful motion and the horizontal lines between the balance beam and her perfectly-positioned body - all captured at the precise moment during her routine."

Here's another look at the picture: http://apne.ws/Qjv5dV

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


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