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EYES ON LONDON: If barbells had feelings

Peter Nagy of Hungary competes in the men's +105-kg, group B, weightlifting competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

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:

BAD BARBELL, SWEET BARBELL

If a barbell had emotions, how confused it would be after a weightlifting competition.

When the competitors walk in, they stare and shout at the bar, as if it were their worst enemy. When they complete a lift successfully, some kneel down to kiss the weights.

The super heavyweights seem particularly fond of this practice.

Frederic Fokejou Tefot of Cameroon, Hungary's Peter Nagy and Yauheni Zharnasek of Belarus were among the strongmen who planted their lips on the weights after successful lifts Tuesday.

- Karl Ritter - Twitter http://twitter.com/karl-ritter

THE BRONX? NO, THONX

Everybody's ultrahip somewhere. Check out this clothing boutique on Mare Street in the London borough of Hackney: pic.twitter.com/6rKXGVlw

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

SPOTTED: PRINCE HARRY

Prince Harry is in the velodrome cheering on the British cyclists Tuesday. He is in good company. Also in the arena are London Mayor Boris Johnson and Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant.

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

RAISMAN WINS ANOTHER GOLD

And that fine performance from Alexandra Raisman has sealed an individual gold.

She got a 15.600, easily ahead of Romania's Catalina Ponor and Russia's Aliya Mustafina.

The medal will go alongside a team gold she won earlier in the games.

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

WRESTLING TRAINER

U.S. wrestling legend Cael Sanderson, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, is helping train protege and close friend Jake Varner for Sunday's 96-kilogram tournament in London.

Sanderson nearly came back to London as a wrestler, not a coach.

Sanderson returned to competition in 2011 and placed fifth in his weight class at the world championships in 2011. But he backed out of wrestling at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at the last minute, preferring to focus on his family and his day job as the head coach at Penn State.

"Last year was the kind of deal where I wanted to get past that competitor stage where you're always wondering. And I figured out quick it wasn't something I could do comfortably," Sanderson says. "I'm not here thinking 'Man, I could win 185 pounds."

It's a good thing he isn't, based on what Varner's been doing to his former Iowa State coach in the gym.

"I just went two matches with him and he just pretty much beat the crap out of me," Sanderson says.

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

I IN THE SKY

Who needs the tube, bus or train when you can take the panoramic route between Olympic venues? After more than a week of traveling by public transport, I decided to go by air.

A cable car system, dubbed the Emirates Air Line, makes the 1-kilometer (0.6 mile) trip high above the River Thames between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. Not a bad way to travel from the 02 arena, venue for the gymmastics, to the multisport-arena Excel Centre.

Boarding the gondola is basically the same as in the mountains - minus the skis.

During the 5-minute journey, the cable car reaches 90 meters (295 feet) above the river at its highest point. You soak up one of the best views of the London skyline, arguably better than the one from the London Eye, taking in everything from London City Airport to the "Shard" skyscraper.

The Thames shimmers in the sun (on this day at least) and the view of the financial district at Canary Wharf is impressive. As the cable car reaches the end of the line, it descends sharply and the skyline rapidly disappears from view.

- Peter Wilson, Twitter http://www.twitter.com/peterrwilson

ROYAL WATCH

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie are in the house, hoping to see more British gold.

The cousins of Princes William and Harry are in the Velodrome to watch Tuesday's track cycling events. They are sitting with their mother, Sarah Ferguson, at the popular venue in the Olympic Park.

Ferguson was married to the Queen Elizabeth II's son, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, but they were divorced years ago.

ANXIETY DREAMS

Not all Olympic dreams are sweet ones.

"I have to admit," U.S. women's soccer coach Pia Sundhage said Tuesday, "I have weird dreams about me playing again."

She dreamed the other night that she was preparing for a game, sitting next to U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx only to realize she didn't have cleats.

"I was going to a game, and I was playing, and Boxxie said all the time, 'You'll be fine, you'll be fine.'

Recalling the moment she woke up, Sundhage put both hands to her head and swore.

"I have those dreams once in a while that I'm playing - and I don't play well," she said.

- Joseph White - Twitter http:http://www.twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

 

BLAKE BUNDLES UP

 

A bit different from his running clothes:

Just saw Jamaica's Yohan Blake exit Olympic Stadium after the 200. He was wearing gloves and a woolen cap.

Essential summer wear for London.

- John Pye

GEORGE MICHAEL NEWS

Hey, George Michael fans: You gotta have faith.

The former Wham! star has confirmed he will be performing at the Olympics closer on Sunday. He tweeted Tuesday: "Spending most of the next week rehearsing like crazy for the Olympic closing ceremony."

Michael was hospitalized with life-threatening pneumonia late last year but has since recovered. He tweeted that he was "a bit nervous not having played for nearly a year," but said rehearsals were sounding great.

Roger Daltrey has confirmed that The Who will play the ceremony, billed as "a symphony of British music." No confirmation yet on the widely rumored Spice Girls reunion.

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

HERO CLEANER

It was a sports fan's nightmare: Leaving a pair of Olympics tickets on a crowded passenger train, then arriving at the venue to realize you're empty handed.

When they found out they had mislaid their tickets, mother and son rushed back to Liverpool Street station only to find the train had been cleaned and the tickets were still missing.

It could have been a real disaster without the help of a Greater Anglia cleaner, Gaspare Giarracco, who was willing to go back into the train station's trash cans and rummage around until he found the precious tickets.

"I was determined to help the customer, find the tickets and make sure the story had a happy ending," said Giarracco, 42, who received a special 'Champions' award from his company.

- Raissa Ioussouf - Twitter http://twitter.com/Rioussouf

QUICKQUOTE: GABBY DOUGLAS

"We're definitely not losers. We're like superheroes. We do tricks that no one can do. I don't think it really looks easy, it's just that we make mistakes or have a bad day or it's not our time to shine. If it isn't, it isn't." - Gabby Douglas on not medaling on the balance beam.

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

TAKE THAT, GLEE

What would Gleeks make of this?

The Olympics are trouncing "Glee" in the popularity stakes with American teenage girls.

The IOC says NBC's ratings for the London Olympics among girls aged 12-17 is 89 percent higher than the figures for "Glee" - which just happens to be on rival network Fox.

IOC marketing director Timo Lumme cited the "Glee" comparison several times at a news conference Tuesday to illustrate that younger viewers are watching in big numbers.

"The younger demographic has come back," he said. "Teenage girl viewership is up 54 percent."

All that was missing was for Lumme to break into a verse of "Don't Stop Believing."

- Stephen Wilson - Twitter http://twitter.com/stevewilsonap

 

RUBBING IT IN

 

As if falling in an Olympic final isn't hard enough to take, China's Chenglong Zhang had to relive it over and over while waiting for his score in the parallel bars at Greenwich Arena.

Zhang's left hand slipped early in his routine and he had to bail out and start over again. He got through it on the second try, but the damage had been done.

While the judges tabulated his score, replays of Zhang's mishap played twice on the scoreboard video screen and were dissected by the announcer.

Zhang tried to look away. When his score of 13.808 was announced, he just shook his head.

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

THANKS - AND TAKE THAT

Wrestlers have funny ways of celebrating big wins, and Hungary's Tamas Lorincz just topped them all.

Lorincz beat Georgia's Manukhar Tskhadaia to reach the gold-medal finals for the first time. He then picked up one of his coaches, flipped him upside-down and slammed his back to the mat in a move straight out of pro wrestling.

The coach hit the mat with a thud that couldn't be faked. And the crowd went crazy.

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

GABBY STUMBLES

Gabby Douglas' chance for a third gold medal slipped away on the balance beam.

Douglas' right foot slid out from under her Tuesday, and she landed on the beam on her backside, clinging to it to stay on. The all-around champion was able to pull herself back up and finish the routine. She sat stone-faced as her score of 13.633 was announced.

Deng Linlin of China took the gold and Sui Lu, also of China, won silver.

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

 

NO FREE PASS

 

Everyone entering an Olympic venue must have an accreditation and there are no exceptions - even if you parachute in.

The queen has one, although you won't see the purple-and-orange lanyard around her neck. One of her aides carries it for her.

French President Francois Hollande wore his when he visited and Prince William and his wife, Kate, have been seen sporting theirs at a number of events.

Official names on accreditations can be quite formal. No William or Kate, instead it is "HRH Duke of Cambridge" and "HRH Duchess of Cambridge."

Queen Elizabeth II needs no introduction - Buckingham Palace confirms hers simply reads "Head of State."

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

USAIN'S JUMP ROPE

Usain Bolt is not giving up on attempts to bring his banned jump rope into Olympic Stadium.

Bolt uses the jump rope before he races. He complained after winning the 100-meter dash on Sunday about the strict stadium policies that also prevented him from bringing in his iPad.

"There are a lot of rules, oh my God," Bolt said. "You can't do anything. I was coming and wanted to bring my tablets in and they said I couldn't. I asked why. It is just a rule. I had my skipping rope in my bag and they said I can't bring it in. Why? It is just a rule."

After cruising through his first heat in the 200 meters on Tuesday, Bolt said he is still determined to get that jump rope in.

"They took it from me again," Bolt said. "But I'm going to get it in tomorrow. I am going to put them at the bottom of my bag or something."

Games organizer Sebastian Coe says there will be an investigation into the jump rope issue.

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

LUCKY CHARMS

Many athletes admit they have a superstitious routine before they go out and perform. And the British are no exceptions. Here's what's going on inside their minds:

- Gold-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis has a lucky tape measure that she uses to place her starting blocks precisely.

- Freestyle swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who won two bronzes for the UK, wears new goggles for every race and must crack her toes.

- Sprint cyclist Victoria Pendleton, who won a gold, wears a silver pixie charm given to her by a fan that she's worn both in Beijing and London.

- Beth Tweddle, Britain's most successful gymnast, always has her parents in the stands. And since 2003 they've always brought the same Union Jack flag to wave.

- Field hockey player Laura Unsworth says she must go to the loo at least three times before a match, and has banned her curly locked teammate Ashleigh Ball from using hair straighteners; teammate Alex Danson says she spins her stick 15 times in the huddle before a game and ties her left shoelace last.

- Shawn Pogatchnik - Twitter http://twitter.com/ShawnPogatchnik



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