EYES ON LONDON: A costly snooze, Obama works phone

Updated: August 1, 2012, 5:21 PM ET
Associated Press

LONDON -- 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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'HE GOT ME PRETTY GOOD'

U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay has learned his lesson: Never fall asleep at an Olympic basketball game.

Gay nodded off while watching LeBron James and Team USA beat France. As Gay slept in his seat, 400-meter runner Tony McQuay captured the moment on camera and posted a picture on Twitter.

"He got me pretty good," Gay said Wednesday.

Did he get payback for the embarrasing picture taken Sunday?

"I haven't yet," Gay said.

His plans may have to wait. Gay will take on Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt in the 100-meter heats that begin Saturday.

Here's the shot: www.twitpic.com/adad1l

- Pat Graham -- Twitter http://www.twitter.com/pgraham34

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TITANIC TENNIS

Mixed doubles returned to Olympic tennis Wednesday for the first time since 1924, when the gold medalists were Americans Hazel Wightman and Dick Williams, a Titanic survivor.

Williams was rescued after he jumped from the sinking ship 100 years ago and clung to a lifeboat for six hours. His father died in the disaster.

Williams then became a two-time U.S. singles champion and a Wimbledon doubles champion before winning Olympic gold.

Tennis was dropped from the Olympics after 1924 and reinstated in 1988 without mixed doubles, which is back this year as a 16-team event.

- Steven Wine -- Twitter http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine

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FATAL CRASH

Police say an Olympics bus has hit and killed a bicyclist near the Olympic Park in east London, an accident that required authorities to halt bus transportation in and out of the park. Ambulance units including a helicopter-borne unit tried to save the man.

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

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SCHMITT POWERS USA

Allison Schmitt's dominating anchor leg powered the United States women's 4x200-meter relay team to a gold medal over their rivals from Australia.

The Americans were behind on the final leg until Schmitt hit the pool and chased Australia down. Missy Franklin, Dana Vollmer and Shannon Freeland join Schmitt at the top of the podium after posting an Olympic record time of 7:42.92.

The victory gives Schmitt two golds in two days after she won the 200-freestyle on Tuesday night.

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

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SONI'S RECORD SWIM

American Rebecca Soni has set a world record in the 200-meter semifinals. Soni finished in a time of 2:20 on Wednesday night.

That sets a pretty high bar for the finals, which take place on Thursday night.

In other swimming action, American Nathan Adrian is taking home the gold medal in the men's 100-meter freestyle by the slimmest of margins. Adrian touched home in 47.52 seconds, 0.01 ahead of world champion James "The Missile" Magnussen of Australia.

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

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PRETTY COOL CALL

First, Michael Phelps got a tweet-out from the president. Then, he actually got to talk with Barack Obama.

The president phoned Phelps while the American swimmer was on his way to the pool for Wednesday's evening session, less than 24 hours after he won his 19th career medal.

"Just got a pretty cool phone call on the way to the pool from Mr. President (at)BarackObama!!!" Phelps wrote on Twitter.

Earlier in the day, Phelps got a personal tweet from the president.

"Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record. You've made your country proud. -bo."

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

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PHELPS CLOSING IN ON INDIA

From AP's Paul Newberry, reporting on the phenomenon that is U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps.

"If Phelps was a nation, he would be tied for 57th on the Summer Games medal list and closing in on India, the second-most populous nation on the globe."

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OBAMA AND THE GYMNASTS

First you're getting a gold medal. Then you're on the phone with the president of the United States.

What a 24 hours.

President Barack Obama spoke to the American gymnasts after they won the gold Tuesday night. He spoke to each of them -- Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross and Gabby Douglas.

According to the White House, this is what the president said:

-To Raisman: "Michelle and have watched and decided of all the Olympians you guys amaze us the most."

-To Wieber: "I'm so impressed by how you bounced back and led the team. Tell your parents I'm proud of them too. I don't think I could watch if I were them."

-To Maroney: "Way to nail that vault. It was unbelievable."

-To Ross, whom he called "really steady": "I was impressed by how cool you were. I don't know how you do what you do, especially the balance beam."

-To Douglas: "You just tore it up. I know how hard you worked to get there." And, then: "Keep at it. Stay cool."

- Julie Pace -- Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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NBC RAKES IT IN

NBC is raking in the Olympic gold: It now expects to break even on the London games rather than take a loss.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke says "We are way ahead of where we thought we'd be."

With London five hours ahead of New York, NBC isn't able to show any Olympic events live in U.S. prime time this year like it did with Michael Phelps' gold-medal swims at the 2008 Beijing games. But instead of the expected 20 percent ratings plunge compared with Beijing, Burke said NBC is seeing audiences up 9 percent so far.

Tuesday's Olympics telecast, featuring Phelps' record-setting swim and the gold-medal performance of the U.S. women's gymnastics team, had the highest rating of any Olympic night so far this year, according to the Nielsen ratings company.

Higher ratings translates into higher revenues from last-minute ads.

NBC paid $1.2 billion for the rights to show the games on TV and online in the U.S.

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

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OLYMPIC PEOPLE-WATCHING

Located directly across from the Athletes Village, Westfield Mall seems to be the place the Olympians are flocking to during their time off. Many are wearing either official team gear or clothing that reveals their country.

It's the perfect place for people who don't have tickets to any events but want to enjoy some of the Olympic experience. Fans can stand at the top of the mall stairs and get a glimpse of the village, and wait to see athletes come up the escalator.

"I've met Australians, South Africans, seen all kinds of athletes," said Farrukh Jamal, who was taking pictures at the top of the steps. "This is the place to hang out."

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

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BRITONS YES, BRETONS NO?

Thierry Le Sommer traveled to Scotland to see his daughter play soccer for France -- but was almost kicked out of the stadium for waving the flag of Brittany, northwestern France.

He says security officials wanted to take it off him and even threatened to call police.

The episode highlights a patriotic sore point at these carefully regulated Olympics. Instructions on all tickets advise spectators that they must not arrive in Olympic venues bearing "flags of countries not participating in the games."

We've now clarified what the rules are -- and Le Sommer did nothing wrong.

The London organizing committee explained to The Associated Press that security officials should permit flags from "nations under the umbrella of participating countries." And they said that this extends to flags of regions, too.

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

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THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

Musician Paul Weller says it feels "great" to have inspired an Olympian -- cycling gold medalist Bradley Wiggins of Britain.

Wiggins, who took gold in the men's time trial on Wednesday after winning the Tour de France last month, is both a champion athlete and a well-known mod, a follower of the sharp-suited music and fashion movement epitomized by Weller's former band, The Jam.

Wiggins has cited Weller as a hero, and Weller -- nicknamed the "Modfather" -- says it feels great to have inspired "a fellow stylist."

Weller told the AP just before Wiggins' Olympic victory that "it's just nice to see an Englishman win something. But he's great, he's at the top of his game, isn't he?"

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

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HERE WIGGO!

British cyclist Bradley Wiggins has inspired a nation -- to don sideburns.

Thousands of fans, men and women, boys and girls, taped fake hair to their cheeks in hopes of creating a winning karma for Wiggins, the Tour de France champ renowned for his scraggly sideburns.

"We all love Wiggo," said Wayne Coxon, a 39-year-old fan near Wednesday's finish line who had taped his own custom-made fur to his face for the occasion. "People have come from all over the country to be here."

Two rival British tabloids, the right-wing Sun and left-wing Daily Mirror, both sought to capture the British zeitgeist by turning their front pages into populist cut-outs of Wiggins' facial hair.

"HERE WIGGO! Help Bradley triumph by wearing his lucky sideburns with pride," the Mirror declared on its front page featuring a lifesize cutout of Wiggins' hair and ears.

The Sun offered readers a pair of "24-carat" sideburns colored gold for the occasion.

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

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LEYVA'S TOWEL

What's the deal with that Danell Leyva and his ever-present towel? Call it superstition.

The U.S. gymnast likes to pull the grayish-blue towel with stars on it over his head between events so he can maintain his focus and not get distracted. He used to have two, but one ripped so now he carries the same one everywhere he goes (yes, he does wash it).

Any doubts about the power of the towel were erased earlier this year at Winter Cup, a ranking meet for the U.S. men. Leyva forgot to pack the towel and had one of his worst meets in a long time, falling on parallel bars, where he's the reigning world champion, during qualifying, and high bar, his other best event. He wound up a distant fourth.

The towel has become so "famous" it now even has its own Twitter account: http://twitter.com/leyvastowel.

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

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NEW KIND OF UNITARD

Ghada Hassine of Tunisia is now the first Olympic weightlifter to compete in a newly approved "unitard" that covers most of her body.

Rules requiring lifters to wear a costume that doesn't cover the arms and lower legs were changed last year. The U.S. had petitioned for a change on behalf of a Muslim lifter.

Hassine, 19, wore the unitard Wednesday under the traditional weightlifting outfit and a hijab covering her hair as she participated in the "B" group of lower-ranked lifters in the women's 69-kilogram category. She cleared 102 kilograms in the snatch and 120 in the clean and jerk for a 220-kilogram total, putting her in second place before the top medal contenders had competed in the "A" group.

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

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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.


Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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