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EYES ON LONDON: Gabby goes for more gold
EYES ON LONDON: Gabby goes for more gymnastics gold; Chinese badminton coach takes blame
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:



The United States women's gymnastics team already calls itself the fiercest squad the sport has ever seen.

If they can add some more gold around their necks in the all-around competition on Thursday night, they may be able to call themselves the greatest.

Fresh off USA Gymnastics' first team gold since 1996, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman will try to best Russia's Victoria Komova in the individual competition.

"It is very special," Douglas says of the team gold. "It gives us the momentum."

Douglas will also compete for the gold on the balance beam and uneven bars, while Raisman is competing on beam and the floor exercise.

Janie McCauley Twitter



"This Bradley Wiggins bloke ought to be knighted by the end of the summer." NBC's Bob Costas, paying tribute to the British Tour de France champion who won a gold medal in the time trial.

David Bauder Twitter



The coach of the Chinese badminton players who were disqualified for throwing a game says he is to blame.

"As the head coach, I owe the fans and the Chinese an apology," coach Li Yongbo said, according to a report by official Xinhua news agency. "Chinese players failed to demonstrate their fighting spirit of the national team. It's me to blame."

China's Olympic delegation also criticized the two players.

"The behavior by Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli on court violated the Olympics ideal and the spirit of fair play. The Chinese delegation feels distressed over this matter," Chinese Olympic delegation said in a statement released to Xinhua.

Scott McDonald Twitter:


MS. NO. 2

Li Xiaoxia has been known in China as "Ms. No. 2," partly for table tennis matches she has lost to Ding Ning, including the final in last year's world championship. That's no more.

Li won the gold medal in an upset victory over her teammate Ding on Wednesday.

Li was asked several times if the victory erased her No. 2 status. Her reply was muted and a throwback to a time when Chinese athletes seldom spoke to reporters.

"There is no second," she said. "Everyone is first."

Stephen Wade Twitter:



U.S. gymnast Danell Leyva's high bar routine is better than any circus act a two-for-one show, actually.

While Leyva dazzled the crowd with three release moves, his stepfather and coach, Yin Alvarez, was doing the routine right along with him down on the floor.

Fans laughed as Alvarez dipped, swayed and gave little kicks of his feet, and he couldn't contain himself when Leyva hit the mat with an emphatic THUMP! He jumped up and down and then grabbed Leyva in a bearhug, planting a kiss on the top of his head.

When Leyva's score flashed, guaranteeing he would win a medal, father and son celebrated again. Leyva won the bronze in the all-around competition.

Nancy Armour Twitter



Experts say even weekend warriors can benefit from the kinds of mental strategies Olympic athletes follow, things like following a routine or adopting a mantra to guide you through crucial movements.

Take your mind off the details of your movement. Sing to yourself or count backward by threes as you step up to the crucial shot, advises Sian Beilock, a University of Chicago psychologist. Maybe you can just say "smooth" or "straight" to yourself as a mantra as you act.

Another trick is to get used to pressure situations by practicing under the gaze of an observer or a video camera. Still another is to write down your worries before a big event. It's "almost like downloading them" from your mind so "they're less likely to pop up and distract you in the moment," says Beilock.

Malcolm Ritter Twitter



A streak is broken.

Two-time defending Olympic beach volleyball gold medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor lost the first set of their preliminary round match against Austria on Wednesday night the first time they've lost a set in three Olympics.

But after the 21-17 loss in the first, they came back to win the second by a dominating 21-8 and took the third 15-10 to remain unbeaten in this and every other trip to the Olympic Games.

"I was furious," Walsh Jennings said afterward. "It's still with me. I want to go to the practice court and fix it."

Jimmy Golen Twitter



U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio wants to give America's Olympic champions a tax break on their winnings.

Americans who win gold, silver or bronze at the Olympics get a cash award from the U.S. Olympic Committee of tens of thousands of dollars.

The Republican lawmaker introduced a bill Wednesday that would exempt medal winners from paying taxes on the honorariums, calling the penalty ridiculous. The USOC says a gold medalist gets $25,000, a silver medalist $15,000 and a bronze winner $10,000.

What about NBA stars on the basketball team like the Miami Heat's LeBron James? Rubio's office says that the Olympics are unique, with U.S. athletes volunteering to represent the country, and that success should be celebrated, not taxed.



Venezuelan fencer Ruben Limardo was treated to a phone call from a "very happy" President Hugo Chavez after winning the Olympic gold medal in the men's individual epee Wednesday night.

Chavez spoke briefly with Limardo in a phone conversation that was carried on Venezuelan television, calling the fencer an "honor to the entire homeland."

Limardo thanked Chavez for "excellent work" supporting the country's sports programs.

Limardo was seeded 12th and is the highest-seeded competitor to reach the medal round after a series of early upsets. When he scored the final point against Norway's Bartosz Piasecki, he tore off his headpiece, thrust both arms into the air and ran around the arena.

Fabiola Sanchez



AP's Lindsey Anderson reports from Massachusetts that friends of Aly Raisman have long known she'd make a name for herself.

But even they didn't think it would be as big as this.

Her close friend Maddie McGill says the 18-year-old was voted "most likely to be on ESPN" in middle school.

"Someone asked me yesterday how it feels to know your friend is one of the most famous athletes, and it hadn't even hit me how everyone knows her now," McGill said.

"I don't think we realized how famous she was going to get."

In the Boston suburb of Needham, a sign outside Taylor's Accents Gifts says it all: "Congratulations Aly Raisman, Needham's Golden Girl."

Town Hall workers had a huge congratulatory banner hung on the building to honor the captain of the U.S. women's gymnastics team that captured gold.

Jack McQuillan, the owner of Taylor's, said: "Over the Russians and the Chinese and the Romanians ... is a little girl from Needham, Massachusetts, that's topped them all. She certainly put Needham on the map."

Lindsey Anderson Twitter


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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