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EYES ON LONDON: A hug from Michelle, a Beatle note
EYES ON LONDON: Michelle Obama has hugs for men's basketball team, a Beatle sends best wishes
By The Associated Press

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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HANDING OUT HUGS



After the first U.S. win, a hug from the first lady.

The U.S. men's basketball team cruised to a 98-71 victory over France in their Olympic opener on Sunday and got quite the reward.

Michelle Obama watched the game, a few rows back. At the final buzzer, the entire team came over for a hug, one by one.

"It was a very special moment," Carmelo Anthony says. "For her to be sitting over there and supporting us, we just wanted to thank her for coming."

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

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PICTURE YOURSELF IN A BOAT ...

They might not pilot a Yellow Submarine, but two British sailors have received a good-luck message from Beatles legend Paul McCartney.

The 70-year-old musician sent a note Sunday to Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes, who will compete from Monday in the men's 49er competition  in which a crew of two sail in a high-performance skiff.

"Wishing you the very best of luck on the Lovely Rita in the games. Happy sailing to you both," McCartney said in his message, referring to their boat.

McCartney, who sang at Friday's opening ceremony, told the two British sailors that he shared their passion, and loved "to potter about" on his small dinghy.

Morrison wrote on his blog that the Beatles were Britain's "greatest-ever band" and said he and his teammate "were looking to emulate" the group's success as they take to the water.

 David Stringer - Twitter http://twitter.com/david_stringer

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DOUBLE ACT

It's Simon and Esther Manzke's first trip to an Olympic Games and they are trying to stand out from the crowd.

Both are wearing small German carnival-style top hats with a piece of cord connecting them and a dumbbell dangling inbetween. Today they have tickets for weightlifting.

"The hats are multifunctional, we have a net for beach volleyball tonight," said Simon, a student from Hamburg. "We are trying to be creative, we know people in the U.K. love hats."

As the siblings headed off to an arena, some London volunteers ran up to them and asked for a photo. "Crazy German people," one shrieked.

Here's the picture: http://bit.ly/MUBGZ6

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

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PISTORIUS TRAINS

Out in leafy west London, double-amputee Oscar Pistorius gets to run in relative peace. That will all change pretty soon.

On Sunday, Pistorius ran 200-meter splits alongside teammate Ofentse Mogawane, pounding down a university's tree-lined track on his carbon-fiber blades as a handful of curious staff members and students watched on.

It'll get far busier for the 25-year-old "Blade Runner" from Wednesday, when he makes his first formal media appearance in London ahead of his historic debut Saturday in the 400 heats at the Olympic Stadium. He'll also be on South Africa's 4x400 relay team.

Among those cheering him on: His 90-year-old grandmother who's making the trip over to London from South Africa.

Gerald Imray  Twitter http://twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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NI HAO, KONICHIWA

There's a sure sign the world's best players are about to take the floor at the table tennis venue: Mandarin and Japanese translators are arriving. Let's hope someone shows up to help with Korean.

The world's two top-ranked women  Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia of China  play Sunday night. No. 3 Kim Kyun-gah of South Korean and No. 4 Kasumi Ishikawa of Japan also play. The top 12 women in the tournament are all from Asia. No. 13 is Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus. Nos. 14 and 15 are China-born players who represent the Netherlands and Poland.

Even Singapore uses two players born in China  Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu.

 Stephen Wade  Twitter http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP

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All IN A DAY'S WORK

What was supposed to be a full day of work for 150 British soldiers has turned into an afternoon watching women's gymnastics.

Staff Sgt. Marc Robson of the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery said he was told Sunday to send the soldiers to the North Greenwich Arena for the qualifications rounds. He said he's rotating soldiers in and out, and those outside the arena are performing their security tasks as planned.

The move came after Olympic organizers were criticized for the number of empty seats seen on television.

Robson said the troops were enjoying themselves.

"I was told to let the boys come in and enjoy the show," Robson said. "Look at them, they seem to be liking it just fine."

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

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DOES YAO SPEAK FRENCH?

There are so many media who showed up to cover Team USA vs France that organizers eventually closed off the press area and wouldn't allow any more inside the arena.

One media member stood out  or, more accurately, up  more than any other. Yao Ming was in attendance as a Chinese broadcaster.

There was talk of making the press tribune standing room only. If they do, pity the guy stuck behind him.

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

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GREAT ATMOSPHERE

It's the closing seconds. The score is 60-56. The crowd is going crazy. Which Olympic final is this, you ask?

Hardly. It's a group stage basketball game between two countries little known for their basketball  Tunisia and Nigeria.

The 12,000-seat venue is at least 95 percent full and the crowd has been raucous throughout the mid-morning game. As the game ends, the players of both teams are given a standing ovation.

The next game, Australia vs. Brazil, is a similar affair. There is constant clapping and cheering and the noise reverberates around the arena. The public address announcer organizes the fans, though it's not like they need much encouragement; the fans do the wave and stomp and clap to "We will rock you."

If there's one thing London organizers promised, it was passionate fans. At the basketball venue, they're definitely delivering.

 Peter Wilson  Twitter: www.twitter.com/peterrwilson

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PINNING THEIR HOPES

Kim Rhode's family thought of everything before the London Games  even bringing their own Olympic pin for the trip.

To commemorate her quest to become the first American to win an individual-sport medal in five straight Olympic Games, Rhode's family made a small number of pins. The image: She's standing on Tower Bridge, larger than life, taking aim at an unseen target, with the U.S. and British flags below.

The family said it received approval from the U.S. Olympic Committee to use an image of the Olympic rings on the pin.

Rhode's signature is etched on the back, as are the years of her now-five Olympic appearances.

And since she's a shooter, it comes with a twist  push the button on the back, and yep, "bullets" (red flashes of light, actually) come out the barrel of the gun.

See a picture of the pin here: http://t.co/s5d4FVYA

 Tim Reynolds  Twitter http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds

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SHOWTIME

LeBron, Kobe and Co have hit the floor for their opener against France.

There has been a lot of debate leading up to these games about who would win, these Americans or the 1992 Dream Team.

Bryant raised eyebrows when he said his team would beat Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and the rest.

Either way, there was a much different vibe at the start of this game than when the Dream Team debuted in 1992.

Opponents of that team asked to pose for photos with the U.S. before the games even started.

No such deference from France this time around. French players Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw and Ronny Turiaf see these guys all the time in the NBA.

A few hugs and high-fives before the tip. No Kodak moments.

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

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WIEBER'S WORDS

Jordyn Wieber has left the gymnastics floor in tears after missing the all-around. "I'll be alright," the American said as she was escorted away by a women's coach.

Team coordinator Martha Karolyi says she's worried about Wieber. "You try to find words bcause it's almost like someone passes away, and what do you say?" Karolyi says. "But the fact is the fact. She did her best and she was edged by her teammates."

The Americans finished with 181.863 points and have a big lead atop the standings, though the Russians, 2010 world champions and runners-up last year, Romanians and Chinese must still compete. The team final is Tuesday night. Wieber was only the third-best American behind Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, and countries are limited to two in the all-around final.

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

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YOU'RE THROWING THAT AWAY?

The U.S. women's gymnastics team wasted no time showing why they're the best vaulters in the world.

All four vaulters do the Amanar, considered the hardest vault in the world. They breezed through the routine in Sunday's Olympic debut, and in qualifications, only the top three scores count.

So it was Aly Raisman's score that was thrown out  and every other country would kill to have gotten her 15.8.

Meanwhile, McKayla Maroney did not appear to be slowed by her broken toe. The reigning world champion in vault qualified for the event finals.

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

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UK STAMP OF APPROVAL

Most national Olympic committees are giving their athletes financial incentives to win a medal  members of Malaysia's badminton team could even get a bar of gold bullion each worth $600,000 if they win the gold.

But for the hometown Brits, philatelic fame will have to do.

British medal winners receive no prize money from their federation, but the Royal Mail has promised to produce a stamp overnight honoring each of the country's gold medal winners. The stamps will be sold at 500 Post Offices in books of six for 60 pence (94 U.S. cents) each stamp.

Still, it could be worse. Some countries refuse to put you on a stamp until you're dead.

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

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CREDITING KIM

It was a Herculean lift  and Om Yun Chol is crediting former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Om joined an exclusive group of weightlifters on Sunday to have lifted three times their body weight in the clean and jerk.

"How can any man possibly lift 168kg? I believe the great Kim Jong Il looked over me," according to the internal news agency at the Olympic Games.

"I am very happy and give thanks to our Great Leader for giving me the strength ... It is all because of him."

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

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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, and get even more AP updates from the Games here: http://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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