08/08/2012 09:18 EDT | Updated 10/08/2012 05:12 EDT

EYES ON LONDON: US Vollebyall to get a gold, Gabby ponders the beach, BMX cycling begins

LONDON - Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavour and details of the games to you:



U.S beach volleyball player April Ross doesn't mind bringing extra luggage to Horse Guards Parade on Wednesday night.

Ross and partner Jennifer Kessy have to bring their medal stand uniforms to their final match against fellow Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings. Since it's the gold medal match, Ross knows she and Kessy will be on the podium no matter what.

Had they lost in the semifinals, they would have had to play in the bronze match with no guarantee of needing the medal ceremony uniform.

"I didn't want to have to bring it not knowing if I would wear it," Ross says.

All American athletes get a medal stand uniform — just in case.



Wearing a bright smile and brighter gold medal, Jessica Ennis has won the hearts of Britons with her stirring performance in the heptathlon and her show-stopping good looks.

But there's a Scrooge in every town, including in Ennis' hometown of Sheffield. Civic officials say vandals have defaced a mailbox there that was painted gold to honour Ennis' achievement.

Royal Mail started an initiative to paint one red postbox gold in the hometown of every British athlete that comes home victorious. But the Sheffield box was defaced with graffiti, prompting postal workers to quickly repaint it.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter



A bet is a bet, and Australian sports minister Kate Lundy won't row back on her wager.

Lundy will put on a Great Britain team shirt — the height of embarrassment for a citizen of the U.K.'s fiercely competitive former colony — and row the Olympic course at Eton Dorney, west of London.

The bet was with British sports minister Hugh Robertson over which nation would claim the most Olympic medals in London.

British athletes have already powered to 48 medals, including 22 golds, while Australia — which retains Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state — is lagging behind with 25 medals and just 4 golds.

"I have cheerfully conceded," Lundy said Wednesday as an national inquest began at home over why the sports-crazed nation has stumbled so badly. At Beijing in 2008, Australia claimed 46 medals.

— David Stringer - Twitter



Olympic athletes are getting used to the idea of life after the games.

"Right, time to sort out home insurance and my many emails... backtoreality" tweeted track cyclist Geraint Thomas who won gold for Britain in the men's team pursuit.

British Boxer Zoe Smith tweeted, "Right. Well then. After the non-stop madness of the last week and few days, I think it is high time I sorted my life out."

U.S. shooter Jamie Gray posted a photo of her kit all over the floor of her Alabama home, saying that a "clothing bomb went off unpacking from London2012."

— Fergus Bell — Twitter



It's been a whirlwind week at the London Games for Gabby Douglas.

The American gymnast burst onto the scene with gold medals in the team competition and the all-around, saw her face on a cereal box and dealt with the crushing media demands that come with stardom.

It's a lot to take in for a 16-year-old. Douglas says she wore down mentally as the competition progressed, culminating with a fall on the balance beam on Tuesday.

"We're 16-year-olds and we have a lot of pressure on our shoulders, so that's kind of a lot to deal with," she says. "It's not about winning or losing, it's just about putting your all into it."

Now that the competition is over, Douglas is looking forward to time off.

"I just want to visit my dogs and go to the beach," she says.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter



The number of spectators who have visited the Olympic Park is expected to go over the two million mark Wednesday. By the time the park closed on Tuesday night 1.9 million visitors had passed through the gates.

A total of 6.5 million spectators have visited Olympic games venues, which are mostly spread across London with a few in other locations around the country.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter



Make way for the daredevils.

The BMX competition begins on Wednesday, with cyclists hitting jumps at break-neck speeds in pursuit of gold.

British star Shanaze Reade knows how difficult that can be. The two-time defending world champion crashed on the final curve in Beijing.

Now she's back for another shot.

"It was the best thing that happened to me in Beijing to not win that Olympics because it gave me the rules of how to be an Olympic champion," she says.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter



OK, so the U.S. men's basketball team has been tested at times in the London Olympics.

Not to worry, says Miami Heat guard — and two-time Olympian — Dwyane Wade.

Wade will be in town for a few days, planning to see the women's soccer gold medal match, some track and field, and, of course, some hoops. Wade withdrew from the Olympic team because he needed knee surgery, but said he was eager to see Heat teammate LeBron James and the rest of his American pals play while he's here.

So while he was visiting NBA House on Wednesday Wade was asked if he thinks there's any way the Americans might not win gold.

He didn't hesitate.

"No," Wade said. "No. Simple as that."

— Tim Reynolds — Twitter



Britain's military has started pulling back personnel from the Olympics park after a private security contractor made good on its numbers.

Although G4S failed to provide some 10,000 workers it was contracted for, it is now sending more than 7,000 workers to Olympics venues each day.

G4S spokesman Adam Mynott told AP: "It's gone as well as it could given our revised position."

After admitting it would not make its orginal numbers, G4S told a Home Affairs committee last month it thought it could provide more than 7,000 workers.

The Ministry of Defence says because of the development, some military personnel have been put on standby.

Although there have been a few issues — guards turning up at the wrong place or minor skirmishes — G4S says the security operation has gone smoothly. But, Mynott said: "Given it's not quite over yet, it's still a crossing-your-fingers exercise."

— Paisley Dodds — Twitter



Cameroon's Olympic delegation says the seven athletes who have gone missing at the London Games are probably looking for a new home and better training facilities.

But U.K. officials say the athletes are not be breaching their visas until November.

"The team has obviously raised a concern and the police are obviously informed," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "But at this stage I don't think it's necessarily for the IOC to worry about whether they will outstay their welcome."

— Rob Harris — Twitter



Mo Farah had to work hard to advance in the men's 5,000 metres.

Back on the track at Olympic Stadium, where he dazzled the crowd on Saturday night in winning the 10,000 metres, Farah was cheered wildly in his opening heat. He thanked the crowd after the race, in which he had to push down the final straight to finish third. The top five finishers in the heat advanced. The finals are Saturday.

"It was pretty difficult, bit tired today," Farah said after the race. "It's all good. I got great support from the crowd. The pace kept going up and down, that's what happens in the heat."

Farah repeatedly praised crowd support and credited the fans for pushing him to his uplifting win in the 10,000. He said he'll go for gold again in the finals.

"I am going to go out there and give 110 per cent, that's all you can do," he said. "But it's all about what my legs allow me."

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter



A gold medal brings pride to a nation and satisfaction to the athlete who worked so hard to achieve it. Winning can also bring endorsements and riches that otherwise would be unattainable, and etch the athlete's name in the history books.

So what is 26-year-old Scott Brash, one member of Britain's champions show jumping team, most looking forward to about becoming a gold medal winner?

"I really hope this win improves my pulling power with the women, if I'm honest," Brash told the BBC after the win. "That's about it."

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter



Three months after thousands celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, Buckingham Palace will be the scene of partying for Britain's Olympians and Paralympians.

British athletes have enjoyed success at the Olympics not seen since it hosted the games in 1908.

And the British Olympic Association is hoping millions turn out on the streets of the capital for a victory parade that will finish at Buckingham Palace the day after the Paralympics closing ceremony.

BOA chief executive Andy Hunt hopes children are allowed out of school to join the celebrations on Monday, Sept. 10.

— Rob Harris — Twitter



Wednesday is the first day of the BMX competition.

— Bicycle moto cross - or BMX - started in California in the late 1960s

— The International BMX Federation was founded in 1981

— BMX is the newest cycling discipline in the Olympics. It first appeared on the program at the Beijing games in 2008

— BMX races take place outdoors and include jumps and tight corners

— In a typical race, eight riders compete in heats. The top four then qualify for the next round



Discus gold medallist Robert Harting of Germany put on a show Tuesday night.

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.

— Mark Long — Twitter:



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


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.