Eyes on London: Badminton scandal, a mother's love

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 1 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

World doubles champions Yu Yang, left, and Wang Xiaoli, of China, watch as the shuttlecock hits the net during their women's doubles badminton match against South Korea's Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, unseen, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. Wang and Yu and their South Korean opponents were booed loudly at the Olympics on Tuesday for appearing to try and lose their group match in Wembley Arena to earn an easier draw.  (Saurabh Das, Associated Press) World doubles champions Yu Yang, left, and Wang Xiaoli, of China, watch as the shuttlecock hits the net during their women's doubles badminton match against South Korea's Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, unseen, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. Wang and Yu and their South Korean opponents were booed loudly at the Olympics on Tuesday for appearing to try and lose their group match in Wembley Arena to earn an easier draw. (Saurabh Das, 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:


Punishment was swift — and harsh.

Indonesia's Olympic team leader says eight female badminton doubles players have been disqualified from the London Games after trying to lose matches to receive a more favorable place in the field.

Erick Thohir tells The Associated Press the Indonesian team will appeal.

The Badminton World Federation investigated two teams from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia. It accused them of "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.

— 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.


Sebastian Coe isn't sure who is the greatest Olympic athlete. He just thinks it isn't Michael Phelps.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and chairman of the London organizers says he doesn't think Phelps is No. 1, even after the American swimmer set a record with his 19th career medal Tuesday night.

"I think you can probably say very clearly by self evidently doing a medal tally that he's the most successful," Coe says. "My personal view is I'm not sure he's the greatest. But he's certainly the most successful."

Coe was pressed to name other athletes he would put ahead of Phelps.

"Well, modesty prevents me," he said with a wry smile. "No, that's just a joke guys, OK."

He threw out names like Steve Redgrave, David Thompson, Jesse Owens and Nadia Comaneci, but calls it "the great global pub game" that will forever be debated.

"You'd have to say he's up there," Coe says of Phelps. "Is he the greatest? In my opinion, probably not. But my opinion means no more than anyone else's."

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


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."


IOC spokesman Mark Adams says the organization is waiting to see what the Badminton World Federation decides in a disciplinary hearing before getting involved in accusations that eight badminton players threw matches at the Olympics to secure a favorable draw.

"The federation is taking very swift action and we expect them to take the correct course," Adams says. "We have our full confidence in them."

Adams says the IOC thinks they are "a long, long, long way away" from saying the sport's status in the games needs to be examined.

"I think it's really premature while a disciplinary committee is still sitting to try to decide whether they have taken the right or wrong decision when they haven't actually taken the decision yet," he says.

Adams anticipates hearing a decision from the federation early Wednesday afternoon.

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


No money back, it seems.

The London Games will not be offering refunds to fans who attended badminton games on Tuesday that included athletes accused of throwing a matchfor more favorable matchups in the next round.

Paul Deighton of the London organizing committee says the folks who were there also had tickets for another game in the session.

"You get into all sorts of strange precedents if you give refunds to people who aren't happy with what they see," Deighton says. "You get into gray, very dangerous territory."

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


All that home-mined British sand that is taking center stage at beach volleyball will go to good use after the Olympics. Playgrounds and schools around London will receive the sand straight from Horse Guards Parade once the Summer Games are through — so those tiny grains of history will be enjoyed by thousands in the very spirit of "Inspire a Generation."

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


"Depressing. Who wants to sit through something like that?" — London organizing committee chief Sebastian Coe on the notion of badminton players deliberately tanking matches to get a better seed.

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


"It's great to see somebody keep pushing themselves and strive to be better. He's just an amazing athlete, and something to look at and be like, 'Wow.' That's hard work that's being put into a sport and it produces results." — Mauritius beach volleyball player Elodie Li Yuk Lo on Michael Phelps.


American swimmer Allison Schmitt is looking to make it two golds in two days when she takes to the pool for the 4x200 meter freestyle relay on Wednesday.

Schmitt set an Olympic record in winning the gold in the 200-meter free on Tuesday night, and she'll have plenty of star power with her on the American team. Missy Franklin is there as well, and the 17-year-old is already on her way to becoming the next U.S. swimming star.

The Americans will be trying to reclaim the gold in the event after losing it to the Australians in Beijing. The U.S. finished third in that race.

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


Those screams you heard coming from the athletes village Wednesday morning were the U.S. women gymnasts reading their Twitter feeds.

The new Olympic gymnastics champions are huge Justin Bieber fans, and have been begging to meet the pop superstar for months now. Well, not only did the Biebs give the Fierce Five a shoutout, megafan Jordyn Wieber (she once hung a poster of him in her room at training camp) got a special mention.

Here's one: "CONGRATS to (at)McKaylaMaroney (at)jordynmarie2013 (at)kyla_ross96 (at)Aly_Raisman (at)gabrielledoug on your GOLD MEDAL. (hashtag)BeliebersWinGOLD (hashtag)Proud ..."

And here's another, sent three minutes later: "(at)jordyn_wieber u support me i support u. congrats."

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

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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