EYES ON LONDON: Last day, hoops and men's marathon

Published August 11, 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:

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MAIN EVENT

This is what everyone expected, and what most wanted. The Americans and Spain playing for the gold medal in men's basketball. The two best teams meeting in the final game with gold on the line, a rematch of the surprisingly competitive title game in Beijing.

The United States took care of Argentina in the semifinals while Spain overcame a big early deficit to beat Russia. Now it's LeBron against Pau. Kobe against Calderon. The USA's athleticism against Spain's size.

The Americans have looked unbeatable in these Olympics, but they did in Beijing as well, before Spain found itself within four points with 2½ minutes to play. The U.S. pulled away to a 118-107 victory, and Kevin Durant expects another tight one on Sunday.

"They're a really, really good team," Durant says. "They play hard, they're a tough team, competitive, so it's not going to be a walk in the park for us."

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

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DEFINING MOMENT

"The tears of Chris Hoy, I think that was the defining moment of the games." — IOC chief Jacques Rogge, on Hoy's multiple golds in cycling.

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

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JUST ONE MORE

The United States track and field team set a seemingly audacious goal of 30 medals for the London Games. They're one medal away, with one event to go.

The track and field competition ends on Sunday with the men's marathon. The Kenyans are the favorites in the event, but several Americans have a chance to get on the podium.

Meb Keflezighi surprised the field by winning silver in Athens eight years ago, while Abdi Abdirahman and Ryan Hall are also in the mix.

"It was contagious," men's coach Andrew Valmon says. "When you get that kind of competitive rivalry from the hurdles to the decathlon, it spreads to the rest of the team. When someone went down and didn't do as well, it was always that next shining star."

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

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BUSY BORIS

It wasn't a "Boris Bike" or a zip wire for London's high-profile mayor on the final day of the Olympics. Boris Johnson rode in to Olympic Park on the Overground train, taking it six stops from Highbury & Islington near his home to Stratford.

At first, he didn't attract much attention in the packed first car as he read a copy of the free newspaper Metro. But suddenly he became swarmed by people wanting to take photos with him, who apologized for bothering him.

"My pleasure," said Johnson, complying.

He was with an aide who then went over the day's agenda with him. Looks like the mayor will be visiting Team GB house for a meet-and-greet with 60 athletes, including "the taekwondo girl" — the aide said — before basketball, modern pentathlon at Greenwich and the closing ceremony.

As the train rumbled along, it didn't look like he was impressed with its air conditioning. The mayor lifted his right hand to the vents and said, "It's hot in here."

— Frank Griffiths — Twitter http://twitter.com/fgriffithsap

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BRONZED BRITAIN

For Team GB, coming third in the Olympics medal table is a feat truly worth celebrating. The combined team from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland hoped to better their 19 golds from Beijing and have reached 28 on home soil.

Prime Minister David Cameron has just hopped on to the BBC studio sofa at Olympic Park to describe his own pleasant surprise at his country's unexpectedly strong performance, its best since those days long ago when Britain ruled much of the globe.

"I was impressed with coming fourth in Beijing," Cameron says. "We're a country of 60 million people and we are up against the Russias and the Germanys and Chinas, Americas and Indias.

"Coming fourth in the world was pretty amazing and I thought holding on to fourth place would be a huge challenge. Yet this year we've produced incredible results. ... It's been a massive self-confidence boost."

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

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TAKING IT TO THE STREETS

Maybe the fans turned out in swarms because the marathon was one of the final events of the London Olympics. Or maybe because a lot of the tickets were free.

Either way, the marathon was well-supported Sunday morning as the runners raced through fan-packed streets.

The runners were seeing the sights that many tourists might when they ride the famed double-decker buses of London. The race went past Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, London Bridge and the Tower of London, before finishing near Buckingham Palace.

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

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ROGGE ON BOLT

"Usain Bolt is the best sprinter of all time." — IOC President Jacques Rogge.

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

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ROGGE ON RUDISHA

"This was beauty in action." — IOC President Jacques Rogge, on Kenyan David Rudisha's world record in the 800 meters. He called it a "magic moment."

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

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INCREDIBLE FORTNIGHT

"It's been an incredible fortnight." — London games chief Sebastian Coe.

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

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IOC CHIEF: 'A DREAM'

"''It was a dream for a sports-lover like me." — IOC President Jacques Rogge, speaking on the London Olympics' final day.

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

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ROGGE: 'SATISFIED'

"We're very happy, very satisfied." — IOC President Jacques Rogge, speaking on the London Olympics' final day.

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

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END OF THE LINE

Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings and Sue Bird have been together for three Olympics with the U.S. women's basketball team, the central figures in the continued dominance on the international stage. They've won three gold medals, including the one they earned with a 36-point victory over France on Saturday night.

But it appears the group is nearing the end of the line. Catchings says this will be her last Olympics, even though Taurasi is trying to get her to keep an open mind on Rio in 2016. Bird will be 35 then and knows that the odds of being on that team are slim.

Maybe that's why Taurasi, who says she normally isn't very emotional, was tearing up on the podium.

"It does feel different," Taurasi says. "As you get older, maybe you reflect a little more on what you had to overcome to get here."

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

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A LITTLE BIT MO

It'll take more than a mo to tell you all the headlines Mo Farah has inspired. The British distance runner champ, who took his second gold medal in the 5,000-meter Saturday after winning the 10,000-meter a week ago, is dominating almost all of the main British papers' front pages.

"Mo-mentous," the Express and Mail on Sunday both said on their front. "Mojestic," the Daily Star said, while the Sunday Times had "Fly Mo, Fly!"

The Sunday Telegraph, meanwhile, let an image do the talking: A full spread showing Farah at the finish line, arms outstretched, eyes rounded and mouth wide open in disbelief.

Declared the headline: "History Man."

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

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RUNNING STATELESS

Among the runners in Sunday's marathon is one without a country.

Guor Marial fled a refugee camp in what is now South Sudan during a civil war more than a decade ago. He landed in the United States, seeking asylum.

"I'm representing the whole world, basically," he says.

Marial will compete under the banner of the International Olympic Committee. He will have "I.O.A." printed on his new gray and black uniform for the race, just as he recently did on his new jacket: Independent Olympic Athlete.

Marial has run only two marathons in his life, but finished both in Olympic times. His second was just two months ago.

As for expectations, well, Marial really doesn't have any.

"I'm going into the race open minded," says the 28-year-old Marial, who now lives in Flagstaff, Ariz. "I will just go there and see what happens."

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

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'NOT AS CRAZY'

Despite his newly cemented status as a running legend, Usain Bolt says he can still walk around freely in his home of Jamaica without being mobbed by fans.

"In Jamaica, I think because they see me so much, they are not as crazy," Bolt says. "I still have to take pictures, sign autographs. But it's not as much as when I'm overseas and people only get to see me once every now and again."

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

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STREAMING CEREMONY

Tape-delay haters, rejoice!

NBC has changed course and decided to stream Sunday's Olympic closing ceremony live online, in addition to broadcasting it during prime time.

NBC stressed that Sunday's stream was an experiment and doesn't necessarily mean the same policy would hold true for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The stream is available to cable and satellite customers who go to the NBCOlympics.com website.

Sunday's ceremony has been described as a music-filled after-party that will feature the Spice Girls, The Who, George Michael, Muse and others in a show that will include performances of some 30 British hit singles over five decades.

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

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FLASHBACK: 1908

The marathon at the London 1908 Olympics was one of the most dramatic and celebrated races in Olympic history.

Italy's Dorando Pietri collapsed just yards from the finish line. Doctors and race officials rushed to his side and helped him across, just seconds before American Johhny Hayes. The Italian was later disqualified because of the assistance, and Hayes was awarded the gold.

But Pietri won the sympathies of the British public, and was later awarded a gold cup by Queen Alexandra. The race inspired Irving Berlin to write his first hit: "Dorando."

— Source: "Pursuit of Excellence, The Olympic Story," by The Associated Press and Grolier

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BECKHAM'S ENCOURAGING WORDS

Teenage British diver Tom Daley has revealed that he received some words of advice from David Beckham.

Daley told reporters that Beckham had sent him text messages to encourage him after he didn't do so well in the 10-meter synchronized platform dive last week.

"It was just over text. After my synchro he wanted to wish me well and say, 'Keep your chin up'," Daley says. "He was asking me the right questions to make me think about actually it's not that bad and I can come back in the individual event," Daley says.

He did, too, taking a bronze medal Saturday.

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

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READY TO CLOSE

It's been more than two weeks of games, glamour and glory.

On Sunday night, London is going to get help from some of its most famous friends to put a big exclamation point on the Summer Games.

Organizers are planning a star-studded, foot-stomping final party that uses Britain's rich musical history to send these games out with a bang. The Who, Muse, Annie Lennox, George Michael and a host of others will put on a show, with more than 10,000 Olympic athletes right in the middle of it.

"I am so excited," American swimmer Missy Franklin says. "I think it is the perfect way to end the entire journey."

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

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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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