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Eyes on London: Nerves, Michael Phelps slow, first gold

Published: Saturday, July 28 2012 9:05 a.m. MDT

The pack rides past Buckingham Palace during the Men's Road Cycling race at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London.  (Matt Rourke, Associated Press) The pack rides past Buckingham Palace during the Men's Road Cycling race at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (Matt Rourke, Associated Press)

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

MY LEGS WERE SHAKING

American Timothy Wang is already out of his first Olympics.

He lost his first table tennis match in four straight games on Saturday to North Korean Kim Song Nam. The experience lasted just a few minutes, beaten 11-5, 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 in the knockout tournament before about 4,000 fans.

He probably spoke for many first-time Olympians — and even experienced ones — about being very nervous.

Competitors turn a corner during the men's road cycling race at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London.  (Alastair Grant, Associated Press) Competitors turn a corner during the men's road cycling race at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (Alastair Grant, Associated Press)

"I walked out and as soon as everyone started cheering, I started to get goose bumps. My legs were shaking while I was playing. The nerves definitely kicked in. I tried to focus before the match, but I really wasn't expecting it when I came out. Over here every match is like center court and all the eyes are on you. In tournaments in the U.S., very few people are there."

— Stephen Wade — Twitter http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP

ROYAL SIGHTING

It's just how she likes it. Princess Anne crossed the road in front of me in Green Park. And, despite the crowds, she went mostly unnoticed, although there was a smattering of cheers.

The queen's daughter is as low-key as a British royal can be. And the British public seems to respect her wishes.

Here's the picture: http://bit.ly/QtNFwn

Britain's Bradley Wiggins leads his team as the peloton passes by The Mall near Buckingham Palace during the men's road cycling race at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London.   (Daniel Berehulak, Pool, Associated Press) Britain's Bradley Wiggins leads his team as the peloton passes by The Mall near Buckingham Palace during the men's road cycling race at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (Daniel Berehulak, Pool, Associated Press)

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

TECH FAIL

Japanese volleyball coach Masayoshi Manabe is missing his trusty iPad. Turns out there's no wireless for the coaches to use at the Earls Court venue, something that isn't going over well.

"There is no wi-fi available here. All the teams are in the same condition. We are talking to the organizers," Manabe said through a translator.

Japan swept Algeria 3-0 in the opening match. For now at least, looks like they can do without technology.

— Anne M. Peterson — Twitter http://twitter.com/anniempeterson

FIRST GOLD

And the first gold medal has gone to China. Yi Siling has just triumphed in the women's 10-meter air rifle shooting.

SLOW PHELPS

Michael Phelps was surprisingly slow in the 400-meter individual medley prelims Saturday. He barely made the field and will swim in Lane 8 in the final.

No big deal, right? All lanes are the same.

Not exactly, according to a tweet from former Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders: "Lane 8 is worse than Lane 1 because Phelps breathes to the right on the way home. He won't see the rest of the field."

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

I CRIED LIKE A BABY

London Mayor Boris Johnson says he spent all night dreaming about the opening ceremony and thinks it was better than China's stunning show four years ago.

"Call me chauvinistic, call me jingoistic, but I think we knocked the spots off Beijing last night," Johnson said.

"From the beginning I was crying like a baby. I just thought it was brilliant."

He lauded the cultural complexity of Danny Boyle's production.

"We weren't just Beefeaters and Big Ben. It was the real story of this country," he said.

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

BILL GATES

The table tennis venue is abuzz with talk that Bill Gates will show up on Saturday — and he'd see a familiar face in young American singles player Ariel Hsing.

The 16-year-old Californian is friends with Gates and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett, having played demonstration matches against the two earlier this year at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting.

She knows them well enough to call them "Uncle Bill" and "Uncle Warren." Is that cool or what?

— Stephen Wade — Twitter http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP

NEWSPAPER REACTION

"BLAST-OFF!" thundered the Daily Mail; "Quirky and eccentric ... oh, how very British," judged the Daily Express; "TORCH OF GENIUS: QUEEN IN SKYFALL," was the Daily Mirror's take.

The Times led with a screen grab of James Bond, the queen and her corgis strutting down the red carpet of Buckingham Palace. Its headline: "Shaken and stirred."

The Sun, world famous for its in-your-face headlines, simply said "WOW" on the front page, with "FLAMING FANTASTIC" inside.

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

WHO'S IN CHARGE?

There's a battle for authority at points along Saturday morning's cycling road course. Even soldiers are being ordered around.

A military man in uniform demanded to be allowed to cross the road. A female police officer told him he could go through the gate, but the volunteer refused to open it. They all argued before he climbed atop the gate, saying simply "I'm crossing!"

He then fell hard on his knees on the pavement.

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

EARLY GOLD RUSH

The action's well underway, with Britain hoping for an early gold in the men's cycling road race. Elsewhere, swimming heats began, with Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals at the Beijing Games four years ago, looking to qualify for potentially his first of the London Games.

—Dennis Passa — Twitter http://twitter.com/dennispassa

HUGE AUDIENCE

Who says the collective television event is dead?

The BBC says 27 million people watched its coverage of the Olympic opening ceremony — almost half the entire British population. That's even more than the 20 million who watched last year's royal wedding.

— Jill Lawless — Twitter http://twitter.com/JillLawless

LINEUP SET

The Americans won't waste any time setting the tone for the women's gymnastics competition.

The reigning world champs and gold medal favorites are up first on vault in Sunday's qualifying session. The Americans do the toughest vaults in the world these days, and how they score will immediately give Russia, Romania and defending Olympic champion China an idea of whether they can catch up or not.

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

AUSSIE FAN POWER

Australia's archery coach James Park and a handful of athletes got an early start, heading out on the Tube to Green Park to find a place to cheer along their countrymen participating in the cycling road race.

"We're just spectators today," said Park, who will no doubt be backing sprinter Matt Goss.

Mark Cavendish has a chance to give host Great Britain its first medal. But Goss could challenge if it comes down to a sprint finish.

The race goes through London's streets, then into the Surrey countryside and ends outside Buckingham Palace mid-afternoon.

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

VIEWS FROM CHINA

Here's how some users of China's Sina Weibo microblog site felt about the start of the London Olympics:

— Onlooker: "I was most impressed by the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games which cost only $42 million — less than half of what was spent at the Beijing Olympic Games."

— Timo in a dream: "Compared to the Beijing Olympic Games, I like the opening ceremony of the London Games which interprets the culture in a simple way and it's easy to understand."

— Fan Fan: "The cost of the London Olympic Games was decided by British taxpayers, but Chinese taxpayers did not even know the cost of the Beijing Games."

— Liurong: "Two different styles, what the Beijing games brought to people was unparalleled."

—Henry Hou

TWO-WAY TRAFFIC

At 7 a.m. fresh-eyed fans were streaming into Olympic Park ready for the action. On their commute, they couldn't help but notice the stragglers going home in the opposite direction. And some were still in party mode.

Near King's Cross station in central London, in an apparent attempt to inject some Winter Olympics ice dance action into the celebrations, one man picked up his girlfriend and straddled her on his shoulders before (successfully) spinning her around two or three times and gently placing her back down on the footpath, giving the early morning travellers their first smiles of the day.

—Dennis Passa — Twitter http://twitter.com/dennispassa

COMING UP

Beach volleyball in the heart of central London will highlight Olympic competition Saturday, along with the first swimming medals. American rivals Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte will face off in the 400-meter individual medley.

Two-time U.S. defending gold medalist pair Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor will be the feature match in the beach volleyball grandstand.

"It's amazing. Just this area in itself is so special," Walsh Jennings said. "You have the Horse Guards right there and the changing of the guard and you get to see this and all the historic culture. Really, really cool. I've been picturing this for so long, and to see it in person and have it come alive is awesome."

—Janie McCauley — Twitter: http://twitter.com/JanieMcCAP

FLASHBACK — BERLIN 1936: "Reichsfuehrer Adolf Hitler, attired in a brown uniform and smiling genially, formally launched the Eleventh Olympiad today amid ceremonies dazzlingly brilliant despite dripping skies marked by vividly contrasting demonstrations obviously fraught with political as well as sporting significance. ... The big United States delegation, surpassed in size only by the Germans who formed the procession as rear guard, was accorded a doubtful reception. Changing plans suddenly overnight to avoid the appearance of giving only a modified Nazi salute under the original intentions to extend arms with hats in hand, the Americans reverted to the former custom of doffing their hats and placing them over the heart while giving 'eyes right.'"

— The Associated Press, Aug. 1, 1936

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, and get even more AP updates from the Games here: http://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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