EYES ON LONDON: London's golden sands, flying ants

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:


Britain is about to get an influx of beaches.

Over 5,000 tons of sand were trucked to London to construct the beach volleyball courts. It's all got to go somewhere when the competition is over, and there is a plan to bring beach courts to all corners of Britain.

Volleyball officials say that there is enough sand to furnish 40 courts around Britain. They also have plans to build an indoor practice facility in hopes of capitalizing on the momentum generated by games.

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


Brother acts are popping up all over at the London Olympics - especially from the host nation.

Britain's Alistair Brownlee nabbed the gold in men's triathlon on Tuesday, while his younger brother Jonathan won the bronze. On the water, Richard Chambers and younger brother Peter won silver in the lightweight four along with two other British rowers.

In tennis, there was Britain's Andy Murray and older brother Jamie and doubles players Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States. Jamie Murray's Olympic journey ended when he and Andy lost in the first round of doubles, although Andy went on to win gold in the singles and silver in mixed doubles.

The Bryan twins took home gold in the doubles and Mike Bryan also won a bronze in the mixed doubles.

Kevin Borlee and identical twin Jonathan both competed for Belgium in the 400 meters on Monday, finishing 5th and 6th respectively. Both will compete in the first round of the 4x400 meter relay on Thursday.

- Nick Twomey.


George Hoy might be the happiest teenager in London.

The 16-year-old games volunteer from South Woodford has Usain Bolt's black cap, the one the Jamaican sprinter wore before cruising to victory in a 200-meter preliminary Tuesday night.

Hoy's team got assigned to the 200 meters and Hoy luckily drew Lane 5 out of a hat. That turned out to be Bolt's starting lane. Hoy was waiting at the starting line with a bin to collect Bolt's things.

"As he came out, he kind of went to me, 'What's up?'" said Hoy, who then pounded fists with the sprinter. "As he took his hat off, I went, 'I like your hat.' He went, 'Oh, do you want it?' And that's when he gave it to me."

Hoy has since put the cap on, shown it to friends and family, and even displayed it on his Facebook page. He brought it back to the stadium Wednesday ready to show off some more.

"I can't put it into words," he said. "I'm still buzzing now from it."

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


Ben Pipes has big plans for volleyball in Britain. It starts with sustaining the momentum that indoor and beach volleyball have gained during the London Games.

Pipes, the captain of the British men's volleyball team, says the plan is for clubs around the country to open their doors Aug. 18-19 and entertain anybody interested in learning a bit more about the sport - and even give it a try.

"That's a great thing. We've captivated the nation and it's a big deal what we've done and what these games have brought to us," he said. "It's not just talking about a legacy but what we can do. At the moment we've surrounded ourselves with the right people. We've had such a great history the last five years, we've got to capitalize on it."

- Janie McCauley - Twitter http://twitter.com/janiemccAP


There are bugs falling from the sky at Olympic Stadium.

Olympic workers say the bugs are flying ants and swear, while pesky, they are harmless.

With almost no wind swirling in the stadium, the bugs are everywhere and show no signs of relenting.

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


German open water swimmer Thomas Lurz has a tattoo on the inside of his upper left arm - 03-05-1946.

Asked the significance of the date - May 3, 1946 - Lurz said that was his father's birthday.

The elder Lurz died in 2007 while his son was competing in the World University Games in Bangkok.

"Too young," said Lurz, one of the leading contenders in the men's open water race, which will be held Friday in Hyde Park.

- Paul Newberry - Twitter http://twitter.com/pnewberry1963


Swimming officials are considering the introduction of underwater video for judging following the controversy over an alleged illegal dolphin kick by South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh in his 100-meter breaststroke victory last week.

Van der Burgh has acknowledged that he took an additional underwater kick at the start of his world-record swim, justifying it by explaining that most competitors do it.

As the fastest qualifier for the Olympic final, Van der Burgh swam in lane four, which is lined with numerous television and still cameras, which clearly documented the infraction. But judges cannot look at the images.

- Andrew Dampf


The U.S. women's basketball team has a huge fan in former short track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno.

The most decorated American winter Olympian, who won eight medals - including two golds - stopped by practice Wednesday. He shot around with the players and was doing a feature on Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird for NBC.

"He's great. He's a cool dude," Taurasi said. "He's still in great shape. He can't shoot, but the man can skate."

Taurasi remembers watching Ohno win gold in 2002 and 2006 and admitted her own prowess on the ice was lacking.

"He's a lot better shooter than I am skater," she said.

Here's a picture: -http://bit.ly/Mw8sxQ

- Doug Feinberg - Twitter http://www.twitter.com/Dougfeinberg


Sarah Attar finished more than 40 seconds behind the lead pack in her women's 800-meter heat - and she got the loudest ovation of anyone.

Attar became the first Saudi woman to compete in Olympic track and field, wearing a headscarf and finishing with the second-slowest time of any of the 40 women who took the track Wednesday.

"This is such a huge honor and an amazing experience, just to be representing the women," Attar said. "Just having so much support in the stadium, I know this can make a huge difference."

Attar smiled broadly and waved at the crowd as her name was announced. Three minutes later, wearing a white headscarf, green long-sleeve shirt and black leggings despite the 66-degree (19-degree Celsius) temperature, she drew a roar of approval from the crowd of about 80,000 as she strode Down the home stretch.

Her time of 2 minutes, 44.95 seconds was well behind Janeth Jepkosgei's heat-winning 2:01.04. Only Merve Aydin of Turkey was slower (3 minutes, 24.35 seconds), and she ran much of the race on a painfully sore right foot.

Attar's time, though, meant little. She left her mark on the London Games.

"When I was running and hearing the people, it was like this crazy roar," said Attar, a student at Pepperdine with dual Saudi and U.S. citizenship. "Just being in the Olympic Stadium, what a crazy, amazing experience. ... Whatever this turns into, I know that just seeing that kind of support is something really good."

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


Dirty Tubes, anyone?

No subway cleaners will be working in the stretch of the London subway, known as the Tube, near the Olympic Park from Thursday to Saturday as part of a walkout, a transport union says.

The RMT union says that the strike is the result of a pay dispute and that picket lines will be set up outside several Tube stations, including Stratford, from dawn Thursday.

London's Tube is not the cleanest on the best of days, and rats (or are they mice?) are frequently spotted scurrying on platforms. The host city has put on its best face to visitors, and succeeded so far. The cleaners' strike, if it goes ahead, could change that.

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


A tsunami of indignation and humor is swamping Irish Twitter.

Why? Because a London newspaper - The Daily Telegraph - asked its readers: "Can anyone beat Britain's Katie Taylor?"

Taylor is Irish, not British, thank you.

Taylor, the world's reigning lightweight champion boxer, won easily to advance to Thursday's final as overwhelming favorite to win the gold. Her performances have riveted Ireland.

"Dear Daily Telegraph. Katie Taylor is IRISH. However, please feel free to claim Ronan Keating, Jedward, Louis Walsh ...," tweeted Fergus Murphy.

"Ireland's Sir Chris Hoy unavailable for comment," deadpanned Irish comedian Dara O Briain, referring to Britain's top track cyclist.

The Daily Telegraph tweeted an apology. "She is Irish, of course," said the newspaper, which previously has described scores of Irish athletes and entertainers, including Bono, as British.

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


Aly Raisman has an issue with her gold medals. She's not sure which is which.

The captain of the Fierce Five, the first U.S. team since 1996 to win the women's gymnastics title, got her second gold medal Tuesday, claiming the title on floor exercise. But in the frenzy afterward, that medal got mixed up with her team medal.

"Yesterday was so hectic," she said, "I forgot to mark them."

- Nancy Armour - http://twitter.com/nrarmour


Wearing a bright smile and brighter gold medal, Jessica Ennis has won the hearts of Britons with her stirring performance in the heptathlon.

But there's a Scrooge in every town, including in Ennis' hometown of Sheffield. Civic officials say vandals have defaced a mailbox there that was painted gold to honor Ennis' achievement.

Royal Mail started an initiative to paint one red postbox gold in the hometown of every British athlete that comes home victorious. But the Sheffield box was defaced with graffiti, prompting postal workers to quickly repaint it.

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


It helps to have a thick neck if you're going to drop a 196-kilogram (432-pound) barbell on it.

Team doctors said German weightlifter Matthias Steiner is sore and bruised but escaped serious injury after getting hit by the bar in the super heavyweight competition.

The defending Olympic champion got up on his feet but left the competition Tuesday.

German team doctor Helmut Schreiber said medical tests showed Steiner suffered ligament and muscle injuries but no damage to his spine. No surgery was needed.

"Although I would have loved to win a medal here, abandoning the competition was the right thing to do," Steiner said. "Now I am just glad that there are no fears of permanent damage."

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


He has struck political gold as the maverick mayor who has steered London smoothly through the Summer Games (so far). Boris Johnson, a member of Prime Minister David Cameron's governing Conservative Party, is becoming a favorite for any future race to replace the current leader.

Unlike Cameron, who couldn't win Britain's 2010 election outright, Johnson has twice been voted in as the capital's mayor. Yet Johnson, known for his offbeat humor - but also for occasional remarks which have upset minority groups - insists voters couldn't take him seriously.

Last week, crowds roared with laughter as he tested out a 45-meter (148-foot) high zip line in an east London park - only to become stuck halfway along, dangling in mid-air.

Johnson is self-aware enough to realize this kind of thing: "How could anybody elect a prat who gets stuck on a zip wire?"

- David Stringer - Twitter http://twitter.com/david-stringer


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