EYES ON LONDON: Boris dangles, a badminton scandal

Published July 31, 2012

| Associated Press

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



Boris dangling in mid-air is becoming the theme of the day.

He was even clutching two Union Jack flags at the time. His office is taking the latest mishap in its stride, responding in typically quirky fashion: "Clearly the judges are likely to mark him down for artistic interpretation and, unlike Team GB, he won't be bagging any gold medals today but he remains unbowed."

— Sylvia Hui — Twitter http://twitter.com/sylviahui



A policy from the Syrian Olympians in London: Don't talk about the war back home.

"We never talk about this," says Bayan Jumah, a swimmer from Aleppo, a city wrecked with violence during one of the most important battles of a 17-month uprising against the government of President Bashar Assad.

Assad is urging his armed forces to step up the fight against rebels in Aleppo and the U.N. reported a significant escalation in the civil war with the military using warplanes to fire on opposition fighters.

Jumah says she is in touch with her family and worries about them just "a little bit, but not so much." She spoke after competing in the 100-meter freestyle at the London Games Wednesday.

— Barbara Surk — Twitter http://twitter.com/BarbaraSurkAP



You won't believe this. London's eccentric mayor has provided some comic relief to Olympic audiences by getting stuck on a zip wire.

Boris Johnson was seen dangling in midair when he joined the crowds on the ride at an open air viewing site at east London's Victoria Park.

We're working on bringing you images.



Olympians can eat McDonalds for free inside the athletes village, but most try hard to avoid the temptation.

American swimmers Ricky Berens and Conor Dwyer couldn't help themselves, though, after winning gold in the men's 4x200 relay.

"It was pretty bad," Dwyer said. "A couple quarter pounders, McFlurries, fries."

Berens tweeted a picture of their feast, which included Big Macs.

"We eat so healthy all the time, so I felt pretty gross after that," Berens said.

"I still feel bad this morning," added Dwyer.

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



Punishment was swift — and harsh.

Eight female badminton doubles players have been disqualified from the London Olympics after trying to lose matches to receive a more favorable place in the tournament. The Badminton World Federation announced its ruling after investigating two teams from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia.

It punished them for "not using one's best efforts to win a match" and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport" in matches Tuesday night.

"We applaud the federation for having taken swift and decisive action," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press. "Such behavior is incompatible with the Olympic values."

— Rob Harris — Twitter http://twitter.com/robharris



Music is an important part of the Brazilian makeup, and the women's Olympic football team is no different — win or lose.

Following Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Britain at Wembley Stadium, the Brazilian players streamed toward the bus with their bags in one hand and various instruments in the other. Veteran midfielder Formiga carries a pandeiro and forward Cristiane holds a tantan while other teammates stream past with timbas and caixas that combine to produce that famed samba sound we associate with the likes of the sun, sand and the beautiful people of Rio de Janeiro's Ipanema Beach.

If you're lucky enough to be in the athletes village before Brazil plays, you can actually catch a performance too.

"We start playing after leaving our rooms in the village until we step on to the bus," Cristiane explains. "It continues to the stadium. It starts to quiet down once we get to the locker room since we have to get prepared."

Brazil will have to conjure up some of its best bossa nova for its quarterfinal match Friday in Cardiff with World Cup champion Japan awaiting at the Millennium Stadium.

— Paul Logothetis — www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP



Oscar Pistorius had both legs amputated as a baby, and he credits his mother for his incredible success since then.

"My mother said to us in the morning : 'Carl — this is my brother — you put on your shoes and Oscar you put on your prosthetic legs and that is the last I want to hear about it.' I grew up not really thinking I had a disability. I grew up thinking I had different shoes."

The South African sprinter will be the first double-amputee athlete to compete at any Olympics when he runs in the 400 meters in London on Saturday.

— Raf Casert — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/rcasert



It was a bit of movie trickery to give the impression that Queen Elizabeth II was actually parachuting out of a helicopter to mark the start of the Olympic Games. And it got AP movie critic Christy Lemire thinking about how many times the queen's been portrayed in major films.

Here's what she came up with.

— "The Queen" (2006): Helen Mirren was positively withering in a performance that earned her a well-deserved Academy Award for best actress.

— "The King's Speech" (2010): The winner of four Oscars including best picture features Queen Elizabeth II as a little girl, when she was still a princess and went by the nickname Lilibet.

— "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" (1988): Queen Elizabeth II is a crucial figure in this first film in the "Naked Gun" series of spoofs. Played by Jeannette Charles, the queen is the target of an assassination attempt and even throws out the first pitch at a baseball game.

— "Austin Powers in Goldmember" (2002): The third and final "Austin Powers" movie — the one in which Austin travels back to 1975 and meets up with old flame Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles). To reward Austin for finally nabbing Dr. Evil and Mini-Me, the queen makes him a knight.

— "National Lampoon's European Vacation" (1985): The Griswolds are, naturally, the ugly Americans wherever they go. But Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) imagines greater things for the family during a dream sequence in which a bored, yawning queen suddenly brightens up when she sees her and Clark (Chevy Chase) in a reception line. It's hugs and air kisses all around — then she wakes up.

Can you think of other examples? Share them with Christy at: http://twitter.com/christylemire.



With 19 medals, Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. But the greatest?

Not for Sebastian Coe.

Coe, a two-time gold medalist in the 1,500 meters, says Phelps is the most successful Olympic athlete ever but "I am not sure he is the greatest."

The American swam the anchor leg of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay Tuesday night to surpass Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina for the most career Olympic medals.

Coe says Phelps is "up there but whether he is the greatest, in my opinion, probably not."

As other potential candidates, Coe listed British rower Steve Redgrave, British decathlete Daley Thompson, American sprinter Jesse Owens and Romanian-born gymnast Nadia Comaneci.

— Stephen Wilson — Twitter http://twitter.com/stevewilsonap



Australian eyebrows were raised when Ian Thorpe, their country's greatest Olympic athlete, signed up as a commentator for the BBC's Olympics swimming coverage.

But analysts of the analysts are grading the man dubbed "Thorpedo" as the biggest hit of the games so far. He's drawn rave reviews for his canny predictions of underdog winners, his enthusiasm and insight — and has been sitting on the Beeb's commentary couch from dawn to dusk so long that viewers are speculating he might be superglued to the sofa.

Thorpe's been so good as a broadcaster, critics are hunting for flaws. They complain he starts every sentence with "look" and, for a self-professed fashionista, has appeared in some ill-judged outfits, including a plasticky vest and a blue checkboard sweater. British cross-dressing comedian Julian Clary tweeted he was "very concerned about Ian Thorpe's casual wear."

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



The gold medal sealed it, Martha Karolyi is definitely sticking around.

The coordinator of the US women's gymnastics team turns 70 at the end of the month, and had talked about retiring after the London Olympics. But she has backed off that in recent months, and said Wednesday morning that the Americans winning gold has got her ready for Rio.

"If anything, it just reinforces the idea that I love it," Karolyi said, a huge smile on her face. "I will stay in. I definitely enjoy every moment."

Since Karolyi took over as coordinator in 2001, the Americans have won 60 medals at the Olympics and world championships. That includes Tuesday night's gold, the first since the Magnificent Seven in 1996, and the team's only three world titles (2003, 2007 and 2011).

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



AP's TV writer David Bauder is monitoring coverage of the games in the US — and there's something irritating him a little:

"If only NBC's gymnastics team could stick the landings as well as the athletes they're covering. Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegel are knowledgeable and opinionated, but too often cross the line into being overbearing. "The judges were so wrong! They were so wrong! Where is the error there?" Daggett all but shouted when American McKayla Maroney didn't get a rare perfect score for her vault. Al Trautwig sounds silly when he tries hard to be profound. "This is like being the parent of Evel Knievel," he said over a shot of a gymnast's nervous mom. And we heard your "champions walk together" line the first time, no need to repeat. The three-person booth sounds very crowded."


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.