EYES ON LONDON: Bolt, Blake get in the mood

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Associated Press

Posted on August 4, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Updated Saturday, Aug 4 at 11:01 AM

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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BOLT VS BLAKE

In his first appearance at the London Olympics, Usain Bolt did what he had to do to advance to the 100-meter semifinals, overcoming a slow start to win his heat in 10.09 seconds Saturday. Yohan Blake finished his heat a fraction faster in 10.00 seconds.

— Howard Fendrich — Twitter http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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ROYAL JUMPERS

Another royal family is getting air time in the equestrian ring at Greenwich Park.

Prince Abdullah Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, a grandson of King Abdullah, jumped a clean round in good time in the qualifying portion of the individual show jumping competition Saturday. The top 60 riders advance.

The prince, whose father and grandfather are both fans and owners of race horses, said he hoped his grandfather was watching on TV.

"He's the main sponsor for our team," Abdullah told The Associated Press. "He sponsored us with all these good quality horses, and trainers and all good stuff — top stuff: grooms, blacksmiths — so I think he deserves to have watched his sons from Saudi Arabia having good rounds today."

Last week, it was the British monarchy in the limelight in the equestrian stadium: the queen's granddaughter, Zara Phillips, was part of the silver-winning British eventing team, and her mother Princess Anne presented the medals.

Also in the arena that day was Princess Haya, the head of the International Equestrian Federation and a daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan.

—Nicole Winfield — www.twitter.com/nwinfield

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GLIB GABBY

Gabby Douglas and her electric smile — not to mention her two Olympic gold medals — are sure to have advertisers lining up.

The 16-year-old, who won the women's all-around gymnastics title on Thursday, is proving she's just as fast with a one-liner as she is racing down the vault runway.

Holding the all-around gold in her hands hours after taking the title, Douglas didn't hesitate when someone jokingly told her "nice medal, where did you get?"

"Dollar Tree," she said before eliciting a giggle.

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

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FAILED DRUG TESTS

A Russian cyclist and Colombian track and field athlete have failed Olympic drug tests.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams says Russia's Victoria Baranova was expelled after failing a pre-competiton test. Colombia's 400-meter runner Diego Palomeque has been provisionally suspended after a pre-competition positive test. The 18-year-old athlete did not start in his scheduled heat Saturday.

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

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NEW RECORD (ON THE TUBE)

New records are being set on the track, in the water — and deep underneath the British capital.

Transport officials say the games have led to the busiest days ever on London's transport network, with more than 4.3 million journeys counted on the capital's subway system on Thursday alone.

London's sprawling subway system — known as the Tube — typically sees about up to 4 million journeys a day.

Transport has been a key concern for Olympic organizers, with some wondering whether the capital's stretched transit network would cope. So far, however, London seems to have avoided any major headaches.

— Raphael Satter — Twitter http://raphae.li/twitter

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QUICKQUOTE: PISTORIUS JOY

"I've worked for six years ... to get my chance," said Oscar Pistorius. "I found myself smiling in the starting blocks."

— Howard Fendrich — Twitter http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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HUBBY'S HERE

Sanya Richards-Ross has been counting the days until her husband can see her compete live for the first time in major competition.

The day came Saturday when Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Aaron Ross arrived at the London Games. He received three days off from training camp to see the American sprinter compete.

"My honey has finally arrived!!! I am overjoyed!!! WOOOHOOO!!!!! Thx again for letting me borrow him JagNation," she tweeted.

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

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QUICKQUOTE ON PISTORIUS

"I know Oscar was the protagonist in the race," said Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, who actually won the heat by .4 but went virtually unnoticed. "But I love him. He's a good racer."

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

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AUSSIES IN AWE

Australian athletes intimidated by British opponents? Strewth.

"It's quite daunting racing the British team on British soil," says silver-medal track cyclist Michael Hepburn, describing the wall of noise in the raucous Velodrome as well as the performance of the host nation's riders in Friday's team pursuit final.

The British quartet rode the wave of passionate home support to a gold medal and a world record time of 3 minutes, 51.659 seconds.

The fiercely competitive and proud Aussies could only admire their opponents.

"I don't think we can be too disappointed that we were beaten by the best team ever," Hepburn said Saturday.

—Graham Dunbar_www.twitter.com/gdunbarap

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PISTORIUS ADVANCES

Oscar Pistorius has just made history as the first amputee to compete on the track at an Olympics, finishing second in his 400-meter heat Saturday to advance to the next round.

Pistorius was born without fibulas and his legs were amputated below the knee before he was a year old.

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

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FAST TRACK

There's already plenty of buzz at Olympic Stadium about how fast the London Games track is: The PA announcer told the crowd Saturday morning that 52 personal bests and 12 national records were set on Day 1.

And the best men haven't started sprinting yet.

Their time comes Saturday, when Olympic champion and world-record holder Usain Bolt, world champion Yohan Blake and the rest of the men's 100 field are set to run their heats.

The dash semifinals and final are Sunday night.

— Howard Fendrich — Twitter http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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SWAN LAKE

As the triathletes power across Hyde Park's Serpentine lake Saturday, spare a thought for the swan families plucked out of harm's way.

Organizers say the lake's three resident swan couples — and their young cygnets — were temporarily relocated last week at the behest of the park's wildlife officer. "This decision has been made for the protection and safety of the birds during this busy time," a spokeswoman said in an email, adding that the birds were being cared for by a charity called Swan Lifeline.

— Raphael Satter — Twitter http://raphae.li/twitter

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ROWING IN THE RAIN?

Rowers will have to overcome some nasty conditions to win gold in the last four finals of the Olympic regatta on Saturday.

Spectators are huddling under umbrellas and braving strong winds as they sit in the packed grandstands ahead of four 'A' finals to close the regatta — in the men's four, the lightweight women's double sculls, the lightweight men's double sculls and the women's single sculls.

Apart from the odd random shower, the weather has generally been benign at Dorney Lake for the eight-day Olympic meet. The forecast was for the conditions to improve for the start of the finals at 11:30 a.m.

Organizers say they will postpone racing only if there is thunder and lightning.

— Steve Douglas — Twitter http://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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QUICKQUOTE: JUST SAYING

"Americans got a bit of a problem for the Olympics the last 20 years. They've got great guys, great athletes, but they can't win gold in the Olympics. Sorry." — Shot put gold medalist Tomasz Majewski of Poland on the Americans' 16-year, gold-medal drought in the event.

— Mark Long — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APMarkLong

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MEDAL TARGET, ON TRACK?

One down, 29 to go.

The United States earned its first medal at the Olympic track Friday night when Reese Hoffa took bronze in the shot put.

A great moment for Hoffa, whose seventh-place finish four years ago was part of an overall disappointing Olympics for the U.S. — only 23 medals — that led to a top-to-bottom review of the U.S. track program. That led to what's now famously — or infamously — called "Project 30."

The goal: 30 medals at the London Olympics. The mark was set by Doug Logan, the former CEO, who has since been fired. His successor has embraced the goal, but with the caveat that 30 would be quite a reach.

There are six finals Saturday — six medal opportunities — and the Americans have contenders in almost all of them, the most notable being Carmelita Jeter in the women's 100.

The smart money here says the U.S. must come out of Day 2 on the track with a total of at least five medals to be on pace for 30.

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

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CARTWHEELS OF JOY

The U.S. women's soccer team has revealed that gold medalist Gabby Douglas was the inspiration behind their cartwheeling goal celebration.

"Before the game we were talking about what we could do for a celebration, and I was like 'cartwheels for everybody," said Abby Wambach who scored in the 27th minute, sparking the eye-catching routine.

"We obviously don't do it quite as well," she added.

The New Zealand coach didn't sound too impressed. "I wouldn't like it if our team did that, when teams concede and they're disappointed and they want to get on with the game," Tony Readings said.

"But it's obviously something the Americans do. ... It's something I guess they work on in training."

The Americans don't think they're rubbing anyone the wrong way.

"I'm not a psychologist," said U.S. coach Pia Sundhage. "We score goals, and you're happy. What the players want to do, whatever they do, it has to be fun. If they come up with ideas, that's perfectly fine."

— Joseph White — Twitter http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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SHARAPOVA VS. SERENA

It's Maria vs. Serena for Olympic gold at Wimbledon. Does it get any better?

Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams meet on Saturday for the Olympic title, with both looking to add one of the highest accolades in sports to their career grand slams.

Williams has already won two golds in doubles with her sister Venus. But she's never won the singles title at the Olympics.

Sharapova has beaten Serena Williams just twice in their 10 meetings, but Williams tried to shrug off the pressure of chasing a gold medal.

"I don't feel like I'm missing anything," she says. "I feel like if I were to retire last week, I would be fine."

—Christopher Torchia

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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.

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