AP News

EYES ON LONDON: Last game for beach volleyball duo


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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ONE LAST TIME

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings will go for one last title together Wednesday night after winning all but one set during their three Olympics as a pair.

The Americans are wrapping up this tournament determined to enjoy themselves at their last Olympics as a tandem. May-Treanor will retire, while Walsh Jennings plans to keep playing internationally.

They'll face the No. 2 U.S. team of April Ross and Jennifer Kessy in an all-American final.

Walsh Jennings won't even allow herself to think about the emotions that will come once they're through.

"No, I don't," Walsh Jennings said. "I'm focused on our goal, and our goal is to enjoy every second of this, which we're doing, and our other goal is to win a gold medal. And after that, we'll see how it goes."

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HULK HARTING

Discus gold medalist Robert Harting of Germany put on two shows Tuesday night, one during his event and another after. His second was quite possibly the victory celebration of the London Games.

Harting ripped his shirt to shreds following his win — much like the Incredible Hulk — flexed his muscles and then took to the track to make a pass on the women's 100-meter hurdles.

"If you see me coming out of the stadium without a shirt, you know it was good," Harting said.

Entertaining, too.

With a German flag tied around his waist and flapping in the breeze, Harting sprinted down the track's outside lane. He cleared nearly every hurdle — fairly impressive for a guy his size — and then headed toward the famed Olympic cauldron. He reached into the bottom of the cauldron and tried to pull out one of the fiery metal prongs.

It didn't work, of course.

Nonetheless, the crowd at Olympic Stadium seemed impressed with his antics.

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

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'THANK YOU'

Liu Xiang crashed into the first hurdle during his 110-meter race, but many in China are rallying their support.

About half a dozen newspapers ran front-page photos Wednesday of Liu Xiang kissing the last hurdle before he limped off the track. One ran a headline saying "Thank You."

A top Communist Party official phoned Liu in London to show the country's support for him, the official Xinhua news Agency reported Wednesday.

It said Liu Yandong, a member of the party's Politburo, "expressed sympathy and concern ... saying that his spirit, will and attitude has deeply moved and highly inspired the whole nation."

— Didi Tang

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GOODBYE WINDSURFING

Windsurfing made a spirited games exit, with Dorian Van Rijsselberge of the Netherlands collecting the men's gold medal he'd clinched days earlier and Marina Alabau of Spain winning the women's regatta.

Windsurfing got the heave-ho from the lineup for the 2016 Rio Olympics in a vote in May, replaced by kiteboarding. The International RS:X Class Association filed a legal challenge last week against the International Sailing Federation.

Van Rijsselberge and Alabau will probably have to focus on kiteboarding if they want to stay in the Olympics.

"Yeah, I think this was a mistake," Alabau said about windsurfing getting blown out of the games. "I think it will come back. This is my hope and this is what I think will be the right thing. I know how to kite and I will kite if they don't give me another chance, but I love windsurfing."

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RAFALCA'S FUTURE

Rafalca didn't earn a medal in the dressage competition, but co-owner Ann Romney was still happy with her horse's performance.

"It was wonderful," said Mrs. Romney, the wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. "She was elegant and consistent again. We just love her."

The U.S. finished sixth, and Rafalca, ridden by Jan Ebeling, ended in 28th place.

So what's next for Rafalca, the horse that brought the sport of dressage to the attention of many Americans?

Mrs. Romney said that after Ebeling competes for another year or two, she would probably try breeding Rafalca, a German-bred mare. A mare so famous and accomplished as Rafalca could be valuable on the horse-breeding market.

— Nicole Winfield — Twitter http://twitter.com/nwinfield

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BARBELL FALL

A 432-pound barbell crashed down on the neck of Germany's defending super heavyweight weightlifting champion, causing him to leave the final event.

Matthias Steiner lost his balance Tuesday trying to lift 196 kilograms in his second lift of the snatch portion of the competition. He fell awkwardly to the platform as the barbell crashed down on him.

Medical personnel rushed up to tend to the German, who got onto his feet and waved to the crowd as he walked into the back room. He didn't come out for his third attempt.

"He is in a bit of pain in the back, and they don't want him to get a real heavy injury," said Harold Strier, a spokesman for Germany's weightlifting federatio

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NAMESAKE CHEETAHS

Carmelita Jeter and Justin Gatlin — meet Carmelita and Justin, the cheetah cubs. They may be only 3 months old, but they will soon leave you in the dust.

The National Zoo in Washington has named two cheetah cubs after the fastest Americans in the Olympics.

Jeter won the silver medal in the women's 100 meters, finishing in 10.78 seconds. Gatlin took the bronze in the men's 100 with a time of 9.79.

Cheetahs are the fastest animals on land. Their top pace is nearly three times as fast as Gatlin's bronze-winning run.

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THREE'S COMPANY

The high jump medals ceremony will have a packed podium.

Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, Derek Drouin of Canada and Robert Grabarz of Britain finished in a three-way tie for the bronze medal, rare but not unheard of in the event.

"It doesn't matter," said Barshim, who earned his country's fourth medal ever. "We are all brothers. We are high jumpers, one family. We share the happiness, too."

The last time three high jumpers shared a podium spot at the Olympics was in 1992, when Hollis Conway (United States), Timothy Forsyth (Australia) and Artur Partyka (Poland) all earned bronze medals. It also happened in 1908, when Georges Andre (France), Cornelius Leahy (Britain/Ireland) and Istvan Somodi (Hungary) tied for silver.

Barshim, Drouin and Grabarz will get their medals Wednesday night.

"It's going to be tight for space up there, but it's going to be fun," Grabarz said.

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

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QUICKQUOTE: CAN'T BE MAD

"No regrets. Oh, OK, two: I clipped a hurdle and I may have leaned too soon. I wanted that gold, I gave it everything, but I can't be mad." — Dawn Harper, who won the silver medal for the U.S. in the 100-meter hurdles after Australian Sally Pearson edged her out for the gold.

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EXPLAINER: NOT A BRIBE

No, the money that Team USA coach Mihai Brestyan handed to the judges on Tuesday wasn't a bribe. It's the cost of appealing a scoring decision.

When Aly Raisman was given a 14.966 on her balance beam routine, Brestyan had to make a snap decision.

Under FIG rules, a coach can challenge a score if he or she thinks the difficulty mark of the routine was calculated incorrectly. But to prevent coaches from filing an inquiry on everything, FIG requires an upfront payment. The first inquiry costs $300, the second $500 and the third costs $1,000.

If the initial score is upheld, the coach loses that money and it goes to the FIG Foundation. If the inquiry results in a scoring change, like it did for Raisman in propelling her to a bronze medal, the coach gets that money back.

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

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GOING THE DISTANCE

The last time the Americans were a factor in distance running, former world-record holder Jim Ryun was circling the track.

That was 44 years ago, when the U.S. was actually keeping up with the competition.

Ever since, they've been in quite a funk.

That is, until London, where Leonel Manzano and Galen Rupp are leading a U.S. resurgence in the distance events.

Rupp, of Portland, Ore., captured a silver medal in the 10,000 meters over the weekend. Then, Manzano, of Austin, Texas, followed with another silver in the 1,500 on Tuesday night.

So, what gives?

"We've really brought distance running around a corner," Manzano said. "And I know it's going to get better. I definitely hope this is a turning point for everybody. I hope there's a kid out there, sitting on the couch, watching this race and says, 'Hey, I can do this as well.'"

— Pat Graham — Twitter http://twitter.com/pgraham34

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TALKING TO HERSELF

Two-time beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings has found a way to keep herself from overthinking during her matches.

"You have to give your brain another job to do," she said after advancing to her third straight Olympic gold medal game.

And what is that job?

"I spell 'pass' 20 million times a day," she said. "P-A-S-S. Right when they're getting ready to serve."

— Jimmy Golen — Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jgolen

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QUICKQUOTE: ONLY?

"Only? That's pretty good, I reckon. Not many countries can get four gold medals. And how many of them have a lot? Like 24, 25 (medals)? We're definitely going to get more than that, and we are working our way up that medal tally and it's going to be great." — Sally Pearson on winning gold in the 100-meter hurdles, the fourth gold for Australia.

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CABLE RATINGS WIN

Fueled by basketball and soccer, the NBC Sports cable network had its best ratings of the Olympics so far on Monday.

The U.S. men's basketball game against Argentina was seen by 3.3 million people during the day, the Nielsen company said. The women's soccer game between the U.S. and Canada had just under 3 million.

In prime-time, the NBC telecast was seen by 26.6 million viewers, virtually identical to the 26.4 million who watched the same night from Beijing four years ago.

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

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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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