Each new entry will appear at the top and the time stamp and date, above, will be updated on the website
August 7, 2012, London, England - Michael Gallagher, President of Equine Canada (left), has issued the following statement regarding the International Equestrian Federation's (FEI) hypersensitivity testing protocol.
"We fully support the FEI in its hypersensitivity testing protocol. This is an important testing procedure for the fairness of our sport and for the welfare of the horse which must always be paramount. Victor, our team horse, did have a small but sensitive area on the coronary band as a result of a minor lesion. This resulted in the disqualification of the horse in accordance with the FEI's hypersensitivity protocol. The Canadian Team is disappointed with the outcome, and the impact both on our team and the Olympic dreams of our athlete Tiffany Foster," states Mr. Gallagher.
"Equine Canada appreciates that the FEI has shared with us the findings of the veterinary examinations. We also thank the FEI and its president, HRH Princess Haya Al Hussein, for making it clear that the disqualification in no way implies any wrong doing on the part of the Canadian Team, nor athlete Tiffany Foster."
MORE TO FOLLOW.......
American judo fighter Nick Delpopolo was expelled from the Olympics for doping Monday, saying he unintentionally ate something before the games that had been baked with marijuana.
Delpopolo is the first of the 10,500 London Games athletes to fail an in-competition doping test. His case is the fifth positive test for a banned substance reported by the IOC since the Olympic body started its London testing program in mid-July. The other four were caught before competing.
The International Olympic Committee said it disqualified him from the 73-kilogram class, where he placed seventh. He beat opponents from Hong Kong and Belgium, then lost to fighters from South Korea and Mongolia.
The IOC added that he tested positive for metabolites of cannabis after competing on July 30, the day of his event. He is to be stripped of his accreditation immediately, and the IOC will ask the International Judo Federation to change the standings in Delpopolo's event.
The IOC also requested that judo's governing body "consider any further action within its own competence."
The 23-year-old judoka from Westfield, N.J., said his positive test was "caused by my inadvertent consumption of food that I did not realize had been baked with marijuana" before he left for the Olympics.
"I apologize to U.S. Olympic Committee, to my teammates, and to my fans, and I am embarrassed by this mistake," he said in a statement released by the USOC. "I look forward to representing my country in the future, and will rededicate myself to being the best judo athlete that I can be."
USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement his group is "absolutely committed to clean competition and stringent anti-doping penalties. Any positive test, for any banned substance, comes with the appropriate consequences and we absolutely support the disqualification."
Delpopolo was born Petra Perovic in the former Yugoslavia and was adopted by an American family. Before the games, Delpopolo said in his official Olympic biography that he found training for London to be intense and he would like to return to study.
"I would also like to try and get a job wherever; it wouldn't matter to me," he said on the website. "These two things would be a good change of pace from the 'always train' life I live now. Don't get me wrong, I would still practice, train and compete judo but not as intense or as much as I am now. But in 2014 I would start preparing for the 2016 Games again
Swedish dressage rider Patrik Kittel is facing allegations of abuse after equestrian fans claimed a photo posted on Twitter showed him using 'rollkur', a training method banned by the International Equestrian Federation two years ago, during an Olympic training ride Thursday.
Equestrian fans and advocates critcized Kittel on social media thoughout Friday and are sure to bring up the episode next Tuesday, when dressage resumes. But fans at the Greenwich Park equestrian arena did not protest Kittel, applauding him after he recorded a score of 74.073 riding Scandic. The pair finished 15th to advance to the next phase.
Fans angry with Kittel registered their displeasure on both Twitter and the federation's Facebook page, Kittel responded on Facebook, alluding to an unidentifed "St George" who posted the photo and wrote: "I really think they went below the belt this time,,, I for sure have not ridden Scandic in anyway that will harm him, but I seem to be a good target to get clicks for... Anyway I have so much support!!! And to the critics All i can say don't believe photos that were taken in a bad moment go to the Show and see for your self then believe..."
Concurrently, more photos from the Thursday training run in question emerged, and advocates re-posted a controversial YouTube video in which Scandic's tongue was alleged to have turned blue during a similar training exercise.
The FEI reassured fans through social media that stewards were "monitoring" training sessions — and that single photos could be “misleading. Rest assured that our stewards are always there, on the ground, monitoring all training sessions. We’re on the case."
Rollkur is defined as "flexion of the horse's neck achieved through aggressive force" and banned by equestrian's world governing body, which allows a technique known as LDR (low, deep, round) "which achieves flexion with undue force." Fans have alleged Kittel has used the rollkur method after the ban.
Canada coach John Herdman has accused the U.S. women’s soccer team of using “highly illegal” tactics ahead of Monday’s Olympic semifinal between the neighboring countries. According to Herdman (left), an Englishman who took over the Canadian team after a disappointing showing at the 2011 Women’s World Cup and led the team to a gold medal at the 2011 Pan American games, the U.S. engages in “illegal marking” on set pieces that he believes is both overlooked by officials and poses an injury threat to opposing players.
From the AP:
“One of the big threats we’ve got to take care of, and what we’ve paid attention to, is the illegal marking in the box on their corners and free kicks,” Herdman said. “Some of the blocking tactics, which are highly illegal, we’ll keep an eye on them in the game. We’ve starting working on that in training without trying to injure our players.”
Herdman said he also hopes to “raise awareness” of the issue with game officials when Canada plays the U.S. in the semifinals on Monday at Old Trafford.
“Obviously they’re trying to free up a key player, but in a very illegal way. … The U.S., it’s what they do well,” he said.
Alex Morgan (left) celebrates with Megan Rapinoe
Alex Morgan scored on a header in stoppage time to give the Americans a 4-3 victory and a trip to the final against Japan on Thursday
The United States trailed three times in today's semifinals round match at the London Olympics. Three times it managed to tie the game, from improbable angle, an improbable deflection and thanks to an improbable foul gifted by Canada's goalkeeper.
The gift arrived during the third minute of extra time in the second of two 15-minute overtime periods. Heather O'Reilly, an alumna of East Brunswick High School, lobbed a cross into the penalty box where Alex Morgan rose and headed the ball over a sprawling Erin McLeod in Canada's goal, to seal a 4-3 victory
Last night’s NBC‘s primetime broadcast of the London Olympics featured featured Michael Phelps’ 22nd Olympic medal (gold in the 4×100-meter individual medley), drew 28.0 million viewers, the lowest to date for the current Games. Viewership was off 11.4% from the comparable night at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing (31.6 million).
NBC noted that particular night included live coverage of Phelps winning his record eighth gold medal of the Beijing Games and Dara Torres at age 41 winning a silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle. That same night in Beijing also covered Usain Bolt’s record-setting gold medal in the 100-meter. NBC’s primetime Olympics coverage (8:30-11:15 p.m. ET/PT) earned a 15.9/26 national rating/share, 17% higher than the comparable night at the 2004 Athens Olympics (13.6/28), the last European Olympics, but down from the comparable night in Beijing (17.8/32), the fourth highest-rated night of competition for those Games. Last night’s viewership was 24% higher than the comparable night at the 2004 Athens Olympics (22.5 million).
Through the first nine days, NBC’s coverage of the London Summer Olympics has reached nearly 195 million total viewers, averaging 33.9 million nightly primetime viewers and a household rating of 18.9/32. If the trend continues, the London Games is expected to become the most-watched event in U.S. television history, surpassing the high of 215 million viewers that tuned in for the Beijing Olympics. The 195 million total viewers is nearly 18 million more than Athens through the same period (176.9 million).
NBC’s daily average of 33.9 million viewers is the most of any non-U.S. Summer Games since the 1976 Montreal Olympics. It’s also 3.7 million more than Beijing (30.2 million) and 7.7 million more than Athens (26.2 million). The nine-night average household rating of 18.9/32 is the best for any non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The 18.9/32 is 9% higher than the first nine nights from Beijing (17.4/30), and 20% higher than the first nine nights from Athens (15.8/28), the last European Summer Olympics.
Separately, the BBC’s coverage of Mo Farah’s 10,000-meter gold medal triumph peaked at 17.1 million viewers across BBC One and BBC Olympics 1, the highest yet except for the Opening Ceremony’s 22.4 million. The climax of the Heptathlon attracted an audience of 16.3 million at its peak as Jess Ennis took the gold. For the Long Jump, 15.6 million tuned in at the peak when Greg Rutherford claimed Team Great Britain’s first gold in the category since 1964. BBC Sport Online yesterday attracted 7.4 million UK users and 9.6 million global.
Scott Brash, Ben Maher, Nick Skelton and Peter Charles
start of the men's 100m final
Jun Mizutani of Japan completes during Men's Team Table Tennis
9.63?? Are you kidding me? Jamaica Usain Bolt poses for the photographers
Ona Carbonell Ballestero and Andrea Fuentes Fache from Spain
Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina from Russia
Gagnon Boudreau and Elise Marcotte of Canada
Isabel Delgado Plancarte and Nuria Diosdado Garcia of Mexico
Synchronized wrestling? Damian Janikowski of Poland (R) competes with Karam Mohamed Gaber Ebrahim of Egypt during their Men's Greco-Roman
Guilherme Jorge and Bob Ellis
August 5, 2012
Huge storms have already left parts of Britain under water, with driving rain, thunder and lightning forcing thousands of Olympic spectators to run for cover and threatening several key events on day nine of the Games.
By this afternoon, leaks had emerged in the velodrome roof after heavy rains.
At Wimbledon's Centre Court, spectators also reported rain water dripping on their heads and seats as a result of the bad weather.
Officials at the velodrome are now investigating whether the drops of water, which were spotted on the ground in several parts of the venue, could affect today's cycling.
So far the track has escaped unscathed but spots of rain water have been reported in the centre of the arena and other areas, including the Chinese "pen" where the country's athletes are stationed during events.
The men's trap event has also been suspended due to "lightning and dangerous conditions", according to Australian officials.
The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning, with "slow moving, torrential downpours, some of them thundery, with the risk of hail and strong winds" expected across most of England, Scotland and Wales.
The Environment Agency currently has one flood warning in Wales, with 13 other alerts across the south west and east of England, and East Anglia.
The South West was hit by two storm fronts which has resulted in flooding across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.
Fire crews in North Somerset spent more than six hours pumping water out of homes and two hours at the scene of a "serious" landslip which brought soil, rocks and debris down on to a country lane in Portbury, near Bristol.
In northern England, properties and roads were inundated after heavy showers moved across the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland yesterday afternoon and evening, with North Yorkshire Fire Service being called to several flooded properties.
Dave Britten, forecaster for the Met Office, said the heavy showers and storms will gradually clear to make way for more settled weather and temperatures in the mid to high 20s by Tuesday or Wednesday this week.
After that, he warned, the unsettled weather would continue with an uncertain forecast for the Olympics closing ceremony next weekend.
He said: "There will be showers around tomorrow, although they will not be as heavy or as prolonged as we have seen, and this will gradually improve throughout the week with some brighter spells."
While the rain was expected to clear for most of the athletics at the Olympic Park this afternoon, authorities warned specators that the elements would be unpredictable.
Officials urged fans to not “let the rain put you off”, particularly the women’s marathon which is due to pass some of capital’s most historic landmarks.
As the rain fell, dozens of people took to Twitter today to report the poor weather throughout the capital.
Alex Deakin, a BBC weather presenter, tweeted: “Beautiful sunrise over Olympic park this morning. The calm before (and after) the storm, another day of heavy showers and hopefully golds.”
In a dramatic night that electrified the crowd in the Olympic stadium, Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon by smashing the opposition in the 800 metres, then 20 minutes later Greg Rutherford won the long jump. As the crowd celebrated Mo Farah took gold in the 10,000m. It was the greatest day in British Olympic history since 1908, with the three athletics gold medals coming after two golds in rowing and one in cycling, as well as two world records.
It was, said Lord Coe, “the greatest night of British athletics”.
The athletics drama began when Ennis, the British team’s poster girl took the fourth medal of “Super Saturday” with a commanding performance in the 800m and three personal bests in the event.
As she celebrated her victory with tears in her eyes, Rutherford was being cheered on by the crowd to victory in the long jump, which he won with a leap of 8.31m.
Then, as the crowd celebrated his victory, Farah began the 10,000m — and at 9.45pm, he sprinted to win gold.
In the stadium the noise was deafening, and 80,000 people were on their feet cheering, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. David Cameron hugged Boris Johnson, the London mayor, and Farah grabbed a Union flag to begin his lap of honour.
The commanding performances came on a day when:
Þ British rowing had its best ever Olympics, with gold in the men’s coxless four, gold in the lightweight women’s double sculls and silver in the lightweight men’s double sculls taking the medal total in the water to nine;
Þ The women’s cycling pursuit team stormed their way to gold in a world record time – breaking the record they had set only an hour and a half earlier in the semi-final;
Þ Andy Murray and Laura Robson went through to the final of the tennis mixed doubles, meaning Murray will play in two finals at Wimbledon on Sunday as he is also in the men’s singles final;
Þ A record 200,000 people watched events in the Olympic Park, and hundreds of thousands more packed central London to watch the women’s triathlon and the men’s 20km walking race;
Þ History was made in the Olympic stadium as South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius, who runs on “blades”, qualified for the semi-finals of the men’s 400m.
On Saturday night Britain was third in the medals table, with 29 medals – including 14 golds – putting the team behind only the United States and China.
At the end of Day 8 of the Games, 429 medals have been awarded to 58 countries.
Along with each medal and event, a different social story emerges. Here are a few from Week 1:
TEAM GB: Team GB has seen huge spikes around their great success so far in the Games:
8/1 – 10:58 am BST - Team GB wins its first gold with women's rowing – 36,000+ Tweets Per Minute
8/1 – 4:01 pm BST – Bradley Wiggins wins Cycling Time Trial gold - 12,320 Tweets Per Minute
8/4 – 9:02 pm BST Jessica Ennis takes gold in heptathlon for Team GB and there were over 361,000 mentions of her on Twitter
– @number10gov (UK Prime Minister): PM: "Awe inspiring win for Jessica Ennis. Proud to be cheering her on with the home crowd. Atmosphere electric on #SuperSaturday"
THE KING: Michael Phelps was hands down the most talked about Olympian of Week 1 on both Facebook and Twitter worldwide.
– Phelps was mentioned more than both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
– 48% of his fans are female. 52% of his fans are male, 67% of his fans are between the ages of 18-34
• 7/31 9:05 BST: After Phelps became the most decorated Olympian ever, mentions of Michael Phelps peaked at over 12,292 TPM.
o @BarackObama: Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record. You’ve made your country proud. –bo (personal Tweet from the President)
THE FLYING SQUIRREL TRUMPS THE FISH : On Thursday, August 2, Gabby Douglas became the only athlete to surpass Phelps during the Olympics in number of mentions on Facebook both US and globally, after her individual gold medal win.
– 46% of her fans are between the ages of 25-54.
– Photo of President Obama calling the women’s gymnastics team.
• Total Twitter Mentions During Primetime on 8/2 around Gabby Douglas – 459,040 Tweets
• @Oprah: OMG I'm so THRILLED for Gabby. Flowing happy tears!! #TeamUSA
MISSY FRANKLIN ROCKETS TO FAME: After collecting four gold medals and one bronze this Games, Missy Franklin has seen 1991% growth on Facebook since Opening Ceremony.
NBC has become the centre of a race storm after airing an ad featuring a monkey performing gymnastics, right after showing the performance of Gabby Douglas, the first African-American to win Olympic gold.
The network has since apologised for the advert's poor timing, explaining: 'No offense was intended.'
The controversy ignited as sportscaster Bob Costas wrapped his analysis of her incredible routine during the all-around competition last night.
Costas said: 'There are some African American girls out there who tonight are saying to themselves: "Hey, I’d like to try that too." More from London in a moment.'
The broadcast then went to a commercial break, showing an advertisement featuring a monkey wearing a gymnastics uniform and performing a rings gymnastics event.
The unintentional, but poorly-timed ad was for Animal Practice, an upcoming NBC sitcom.
Angry viewers lashed out at the network on social media platforms like Twitter, accusing them of racism.
'Disgusted at NBC for showing Animal Practice with monkey right after Gabby wins her gold,' one user posted.
Another called it 'risky.'
In a statement, NBC Sports said: 'Gabby Douglas' gold medal performance last night was an historic and inspiring achievement.
Gabby may be a rising star in gymnastics, but the golden achievement has also brought unwanted attention.
The race uproar came after another nasty row involving Twitter over the gymnastics sensation’s hair, expressing their disapproval over how it was styled.
Critics have argued that her dark locks should in fact mimic the tight, ballerina-style bun that gymnasts usually tuck their hair into.
One user wrote: 'Gabby Douglas gotta [sic] do something with this hair! These clips and this brown gel residue aint it!'.
Another posted: 'In Olympic news, why hasn't anyone tried to fix Gabby Douglas' hair?'.
Despite the unwanted criticism, Douglas has also had a strong show of support from public figures like singers P!nk and Nicki Minaj, as well as Condoleezza Rice, the first African-American secretary of state.
NBC's broadcast of the London games has come under intense scrutiny, which has been exacerbated due to Twitter, which viewers have used as a soap box to gripe about the coverage.
It was accused of manufacturing unnecessary suspense for the women's team gymnastics final on Wednesday night- which was arguably not even close.
Protests erupted earlier this week following a promo that showed U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin with her gold medal - moments before the network aired the dramatic race in which she won it.
In a statement, NBC apologised for the tape delay mistake.
On Monday night, a Los Angeles-based reporter and vocal critic of the network had his Twitter page suspended.
Guy Adams, who writes for The Independent, lost his account after NBC complained he tweeted the email address of NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel so viewers could 'tell him what you think.'
Adams' account was later reinstated.
There was also outrage over NBC's decision to cut a tribute for the victims of the London 2005 terrorist bombings from its Olympics Opening Ceremony coverage on Friday.
The network said it did not air the tribute because it wasn't tailored for the U.S. audience - and aired a Ryan Seacrest interview with iconic swimmer Michael Phelps instead.
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius made history on Saturday when he became the first double amputee to compete in an athletics event at the Olympics.
The 25-year-old qualified for the semi-finals of the 400 metres by running a season's best of 45.44 seconds in finishing second.
Pistorius, who had both legs amputated below the knee before he was aged one, because of a congenital condition, runs on carbon fibre blades.
He is also due to run in the 4x400m relay at the Games.
Pistorius said the occasion had almost overwhelmed him, as he at last realised his dream after battling to convince the authorities to let him make it happen for several years.
"I was so nervous this morning," he said.
"I didn't know whether to cry. I had a mixture of emotions. It was the most amazing experience, the crowd was amazing. I saw the South African flag."
Pistorius added he owed a lot to his coaches for their support.
"I've got to thank my team, they trust me, I trust them. We've been together for nine years."
Pistorius, known as the 'Blade Runner', competed in the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Paralympics.
The final swim of Michael Phelps' incomparable career was a victory lap, a coronation and a mere formality. Phelps' butterfly leg in the 400-meter individual medley helped propel the United States to victory and sent Phelps into retirement with his 22nd career Olympic medal – a staggering 18 of them gold. Both totals are records and it will take a long time before those totals are even challenged, much less broken.
Seventeen-year-old American Missy Franklin broke the world record in the 200-meter backstroke to claim the gold medal in 2 minutes 4.06 seconds at the London Olympics on Friday at the Aquatics Center. Her Olympic debut has resulted in three gold medals, including a sweep of the backstroke events. The third gold came in the 800-meter freestyle relay.
A dozen people opposed to the Syrian government staged a small demonstration Saturday to protest the presence at the Olympics of a Syrian equestrian rider whose father is under U.S. sanctions for supporting President Bashar Assad.
Ahmad Saber Hamsho told The Times of London in June that the Assad regime was "only protecting people from guys with weapons." Rebels have fought the regime for 17 months in an uprising that has claimed 19,000 lives and turned into a civil war.
Hamsho competed in the show jumping individual qualifier event, producing a clear round on a horse called Wonderboy. Protesters outside the gate at Greenwich Park handed out leaflets and "Freedom for Syria" stickers.
The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) has reversed a dubious decision in yet another Olympic boxing match, this one involving American welterweight Errol Spence Jr. (right) and India's Krishan Vikas. Spence lost yesterday's bout with Vikas when the judges scored the fight 13-11 in favor of Vikas, a decision that seemed ridiculous to most who had watched the fight. In fact, the referee began to raise Spence's hand as the decision was being handed down, assuming that he had won.
It was Vikas's incessant holding that led to the decision being overturned. From the AIBA's official decision:
There were a total of nine (9) holding fouls committed by the Indian boxer in the third round alone. However the Referee only gave one caution;
Based on the AIBA Technical & Competition Rules 12.1.9, the Referee should have given at least two (2) warnings to the Indian boxer;
Based on Decision #1, at least four (4) points should have been awarded to the boxer from the USA. Therefore the final score should be 13:15 in favour of the USA. The protest is accepted and the winner of Bout #142 is Errol Spence (USA).
Olympic boxing continues to demonstrate that it is plagued with what is either a lack of integrity or competence. Hopefully that will change someday.
Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan became the oldest competitor at the 2012 London Olympics on Aug. 2 when his horse Whisper cantered into the ring at the equestrian dressage competition at Greenwich Park. The 71-year-old Hoketsu was also the oldest competitor at the 2008 Beijing Games. What is even more astounding is that he also competed 48 years ago in the 1964 Tokyo Games as an equestrian show jumper.
Hoketsu first stepped away from equestrian competition after the Tokyo Games in order to earn a master’s degree in economics from Duke University. Despite the long hours he spent at work in Tokyo after graduating, he typically rose at 5 a.m. daily to ride before going to the office.
After retiring Hoketsu made a decision to compete again. He left his wife and daughter behind in 2003 and moved to Germany to train. He qualified for the 2008 Olympics, where the Japanese dressage team finished ninth and Hoketsu was thirty-fourth individually. He says his biggest motivation is the knowledge that he is constantly improving.
Hoketsu is currently the second-oldest Olympian ever. Oscar Swahn won a silver medal in shooting in 1920 at age 72. If the Japanese equestrian decides to compete at the 2016 Rio Games he could break Swahn’s record.
The Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy concludes Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone.
Students storm the administration building and stage sit in at the University of California At Berkley. 800 are arrested.
Cassius Clay Beats Sonny Liston on February 25th for World Heavyweight championship
The British and French Governments announce commitment to build a tunnel under the English Channel
The first Ford Mustang from Ford Motor Company is made.
Verrazano Narrows Bridge is opened joining Staten Island and Brooklyn
Nelson Mandela and seven others are sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa
South Africa are barred from the Olympic Games in Tokyo due to their Apartheid Policies
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr receives the Nobel Peace Prize,
World's Fair held in New York
U.S. Surgeon General reports that smoking may lead to lung cancer
The Winter Olympic Games are held in Innsbruck, Austria
The 1900 Paris Olympic Games was the first Olympics to feature Equestrian events? Although it did not include any of the disciplines that we see today.
There were 4 different equestrian events.
The polo competition consisted of 4 teams made up of players from Britain, France, Mexico, Spain, and the United States.
Grand Prix Jumping, which was similar to today's show jumping event, for which 45 competitors entered, though only 37 competed. The first and second place was taken by riders from Belgium (1. Aimé Haageman on Benton II, 2. Georges van der Poële riding Winsor Squire), while a French rider, Louis de Champsavin, on his mount Terpsichore, got the third place.
The High Jump competition resulted in a tie between French rider Dominique Gardere on Canela and Italian Gian Giorgio Trissino on Oreste, with both of their horses clearing 1.85 meters, and the bronze was given to Constant van Langendonck of Belgium, whose mount, Extra Dry, cleared 1.70 meters.
However, Constant van Langendonck and Extra Dry were able to clinch the gold in the Long Jump competition, clearing a distance of 6.10 meters. Trissino and Oreste won the silver, clearing 5.70 meters, and M. de Bellegarde of France won the bronze with the 5.30 meter jump by his mount Tolla.
Until the 1952 Summer Olympics, only commissioned military officers were permitted to compete in the Olympic equestrian disciplines, which also had the effect of making Olympic equestrianism a men's-only sport.
In 1951, however, Olympic equestrianism was not only opened to civilian riders, but also became one of the very few Olympic sports in which men and women compete with and directly against one another. Women made their first appearance in dressage in 1952, jumping in 1956, and eventing in 1964.
London 2012 Olympic Teddy Bear is made in the U.K., is a limited edition and will set you back $124.33
official London 2012 deckchair for $85
Ryan Lochte Fathead for $50
Trivial Pursuit - London Olympics Edition for $6 US
Wenlock, one of the Olympics’ mascots, dressed as a Beefeater for $20
Olympics 'countdown coin' created by The Royal Mint, 22-carat gold for $4,482
Athletes compete in the men's 3000m steeplechase
Guam's Ricardo Blas Jr beats Guinea's Facinet Keita (blue) in their +100kg judo bout
Jesse Smith's son Brook after the US won their water polo match against Montenegro
Viachaslau Modzel of Belarus competes on the Men's Trampoline
Packing a punch! Ukraine's Taras Shelestyuk, left, punches Moldova's Vasilli Belous during a men's welterweight Boxing match
Michael Phelps better watch where he swims next time.
Gold medal winner Ryan Lochte admits to urinating in the Olympic swimming pool during the London games.
Talking to Ryan Seacrest, Lochte – former University of Florida swimmer — says that athletes usually pee in the pool.
Lochte claims he never peed during an actual race, “but I sure did in warm-up.”
“I think there’s just something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go,” Lochte said on Seacrest’s radio show.
Lochte has been no stranger to media attention during these Olympic games. His mom, Ike Lochte, told NBC News Thursday that her son is into “one-night stands.” Lochte was also warned by Olympic officials not to wear his $25,000 jewel-encrusted grill onto the podium stand during the medal ceremony.
The Globe and Mail
Any minute now, Bob (the Builder) Ellis will be unwrapping the plastic from a series of show-jumping obstacles that will define the London Olympics.
Over the past couple of decades, the jumps that horses must clear at the Olympics are not just a series of standards and multi-coloured poles, with a couple of fancy bushes by the side.
They are works of art that reflect the culture of the country, and until the show-jumping event unfolds, they are top secret.
“I couldn’t really,” Ellis said, laughing when asked if he’d spill a few of his mysteries recently. Leopoldo Palacios, the technical delegate for the London Games, says he hasn’t even seen them.
Ellis, who has also designed courses at Spruce Meadows near Calgary almost a dozen times, says he has been working on the obstacles every day over the past two years. It’s become a complicated job since the 1990 World Equestrian Games in Stockholm when themed fences began to appear at major events.
Palacios (with Steve Stephens in Hong Kong, left), a Venezuelan who is a regular designer at Spruce Meadows, says he spent three years on his design for the 2008 Olympic course in Hong Kong, learning the culture and history of China. He’d suggest motifs for each fence, and the IOC had to approve.
“You don’t show things that don’t reflect peace,” said Palacios, who creates about 700 courses a year around the world. “The Olympic Games is meant to show the peace of the world and the beauty of the country.”
Palacios also designed the Sydney Olympic course in 2000. He will design the course for the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary next month for the 16th time.
In China, spectators saw jumps with names: the Great Wall, the dragon fence, the summer palace in Beijing.
“You need a lot of imagination and preparation to do this,” Palacios said.
Ellis is remaining mum about what he plans for the coming week, but Ian Allison, vice-president of Spruce Meadows, says he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tower of London or a shiny red telephone booth as hurdles that horses must clear.
Still, horses must meet technical challenges that will produce an appropriate Olympic champion. Ellis has all sorts of tricks in his “toolbox.” He won’t call them tricks, because his utmost purpose is never to put a horse in harm’s way. Rather, he’ll present challenges that ask the horse to jump wide and then high, with slightly unusual distances between jumps, jumps that appear at the out-gate, when horses might think they’re finished; jumps of different colours that present optical illusions for horses.
Above all, Ellis will avoid the type of obstacles used at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, with a round that featured six of the biggest jumps ever built for an Olympic competition. Some riders called it “terrifying.”
Only two horses negotiated that round cleanly. A Canadian team that included Jim Elder, Jim Day and Tom Gayford won the gold medal with 102.75 faults, while it’s much more common for the winning team to have about 20 faults. (Every time a horse lowers the height of a fence, they incur four faults. The fewer faults, the better.)
Pictured right: Tommy Gayford, Jimmy Elder and Jimmy Day
“I never saw fences that big,” said Palacios, speaking of Mexico. “And I never built fences that big.”
One of them required the horses to clear a huge oxer (a jump with two standards, requiring the horses to jump width as well as height) with a front rail that stood five feet, nine inches high and a back rail that was six feet high at the back – with a spread of seven feet, three inches.
Horses also had to clear a giant wall that was five feet, nine inches high – after coming off a turn.
In London, Ellis promises that his highest fence will be 1.60 metres high and 2.20 metres wide.
The rails will also be lighter in London than they are in Spruce Meadows, which owns a lot of the heavy poles from the 1976 Olympics, also a formidable course. Many of these poles are five metres long, which adds to their weight. The rails at London will be 3.65 metres long.
Ellis will probably release only a handful of his designer jumps during the show-jumping qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sunday, but they’ll be out in full force during the Nations Cup (team) event on Monday and the individual final on Wednesday.
Not many people saw a blowout this big coming when Team USA basketball entered Game 3 of the Summer Olympics against Nigeria. In their last game, the U.S. beat Tunisia by 47 points, the same Tunisia team that Nigeria defeated in Game 1. When Team USA rolled over Nigeria, 156-73, people took notice.
The U.S. broke the record for most points in a game, with 156. It was the largest margin of victory, at 83 points. Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points while going 10 of 12 on three-pointers, also an Olympic record. They broke the record for most three-pointers (26), most field goals (59) and field-goal percentage (71). To put it bluntly, Team USA was unstoppable.
Make it six for six. Over each of the first half-dozen of NBC's primetime coverage, the London Games has surpassed the corresponding night of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2004 quadrennium in Athens in terms of viewership and household ratings.
The Peacock's August 1 taped telecast -- featuring Nathan Adrian winning the 100-meter freestyle swim and the U.S. women's earning gold in the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay, and Danell Leyva winning the bronze in the men's gymnastics all-around competition -- averaged 30.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched first Wednesday of any non-U.S. Summer Olympics since ABC aired the Montreal Games in 1976.
The average viewership was up 11% and counted 3.1 million more watchers than the first Wednesday of the Beijing Olympics (27.7 million viewers), and 8% and 2.4 million more than the first Wednesday of the Athens Games (28.4 million viewers), the last time the Summer Olympics were held in Europe.
Through the first Wednesday of the London Olympics, NBC averaged 34.8 million viewers, the most of any non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the Montreal Games. The 34.8 million was 13% and 4 million viewers more than Beijing (30.8 million) and 33% higher and tallied 8.6 million more watchers than in Athens (26.2 million).
Wednesday's primetime coverage from 8 p.m.-11:26 p.m. (ET/PT) scored a 17.9/30 national rating/share, 7% higher than comparable Wednesday night in 2008 (16.7/28), and 3% ahead of Athens (17.3/29) four years earlier.
The six-night average household rating of 19.3/32 ranks as the highest for any non-U.S. Summer Olympics through the first Wednesday since Montreal. The average rating stands 10% and 23% above Beijing (17.6/30) and Athens (15.7/27), respectively.
Jan and Ralfalca
More than 10,000 athletes are descending on London this week for the Summer Olympics, including global names like Usain Bolt, Oscar Pistorius and Michael Phelps. But the one athlete that is seemingly under stricter guard than any other — sequestered outside London for training, with the public and news media not allowed to lay eyes on her — is a horse.
Rafalca, a 15-year-old mare from Germany, is owned in part by Ann Romney, wife of the presumptive Republican candidate for president. On the eve of the opening ceremony, the equestrian horse represents an exceedingly unusual collision of national politics and the Olympics, making her an unlikely celebrity in a sport not unaccustomed to the highest reaches of society and royal splendor
Taxis line up in central London
Steve McNamara is a black-cab driver and the general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association.
The Olympic Games have been a complete and utter disaster. The shops are empty, the bars are empty, the restaurants are empty and the overall effect on London’s economy has been devastating. Cab drivers are anything between 20 and 40 per cent down on our usual income and this is the worst time for the cab trade since the recession of the 1990s.
I know August is traditionally London’s quietest month and I know that people usually go on their holidays at this time of year. But the Olympics being held in London means that the city is suffering even more. We’ve had months and months of Boris Johnson and TFL telling us not to come to work. They’ve re-engineered the traffic system to deliberately stop Londoners from getting into town. And the tourists – who are our usual supplementary customer base – aren’t coming to see Big Ben. Why would you when the Olympics are on? London has lost its core customer base this August, and it has been replaced by the so-called Olympic army. There are people trying to tell us that the numbers in the city right now are higher than they predicted. But you only need to look around the streets to see that no one is here and London is empty.
I know I’m all doom and gloom, but I’m afraid I always knew it wouldn’t be the bumper summer we were told to expect. As cab drivers, we know that the vast majority of our business comes from Londoners. When there are no Londoners around, it’s obvious that business will suffer. You only need to come out of one of the three major railway stations in London at the moment to see all of the empty cabs. They’ll tell you the truth. You can practically drive along the pavements!
I think that London is like Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities while the Olympics are on. If you’re in Stratford or Greenwich everything’s fine and rosy and you probably think that the Games are wonderful. But if you’re on the other side of the city – indeed, if you’re working in London – then it’s awful. In my opinion there’s a big sense of resentment growing around the Olympic fiasco; the whole thing is organised as well as a box of frogs.
I’m afraid it’s got to the stage now where I find it very difficult to find anything positive about 2012. The Games have had such a negative effect on the taxi trade and they have affected so many people’s incomes that I’m not really even watching it on the TV. Not everyone wants to have a month off this August. There are plenty of people who have to come to work. But there has just been too much negative imagery pumped out from the Games organisers – telling us to stay out of London and excluding Londoners from their own city. Everything outside of the Olympic stadium has been a disaster.
What London experience would you recommend to people visiting for the Games?
Something that lots of people don’t do is go and climb up the Monument. If you cross over Southwark Bridge and travel along the South side there’s so much history to see. It’s not mass-marketed or opportunist; it’s real history. That’s the sort of London attraction I would love to see doing well.
What has been your favourite Olympics moment?
My favourite Olympic moment will be the Closing Ceremony, when London gets back to normal.
What impact do you think the Games will have on London?
Where transport is concerned, I can’t see a single positive legacy. Boris Johnson claims to have built an alternative transport system for the Games. But it’s not that. It’s a waste of £45 million of public money.
By HARVEY MORRIS
The Queen at Opening Ceremonies
another tough sport - Macarena Aguilar of Spain, left, is stopped by Mette Melgaard of Denmark challenge during their women’s handball
Britain’s Simon Terry shoots during individual archery competition
Dancing girls perform during a beach volleyball, the party place!
David Marcus from Canada had issues with Capital when the rains came
Fans from Georgia leave the ExCel Centre following a men’s judo competition
France's Jonathan Lobert sails through the rough conditions in the Finn sailing class at the London 2012 Olympic Games, in Weymouth
Gold medalist Kayla Harrison of the United States in the Women's -78 kg Judo
The sky turns black as Germany's Hannes Aigner competes in the K-1 men's canoe slalom
United State's Seth Kelsey in the men's individual epee fencing
U.S. gymnast Alexandra Raisman performs on the balance beam
Gabrielle Douglas of the US wins gold
Disappointed Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina, left, and teammate Victoria Komova
US gymnast Gabrielle Douglas celebrates on the podium with her gold medal
With thousands of Olympics tickets going back for sale in an effort to fill empty seats, you would think scoring just one while in London would be fairly easy.
The only happy Americans in London are those who bought tickets before arriving.
If you’re an American, you’re mostly out of luck. And that’s not sitting well with fans of Team USA hoping to catch any action at the games. The reason is almost as difficult to explain as the process. But we’ll try:
Anyone with a US address can’t go through the official Olympics ticketing process. That’s reserved for UK and European Union dwellers. Instead, Americans are being routed through CoSport, the official reseller of LOCOG (the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games). Once there, after filling out the online forms, you can start selecting from available events, purchase tickets and get the address of where will-call is in London.
But a quick check Wednesday of the available tickets for any event between now and the end of the games returned zero results as of 9 p.m. London time. Earlier in the morning, one ticket was available for swimming later this week, with a $450-$650 price range.
Even if an American does score tickets through the official reseller, it’s a bear to connect with them. The will-call location is on a college campus more than seven miles from Olympic Park. It’s a 51-minute journey via the Tube, a bus and foot. And then you repeat the trip.
Inconvenience aside, most visitors from the US are willing to accept them for the opportunity to experience what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But being unable to purchase even one ticket, while their current neighbors in the UK are offered tens of thousands, is not sitting well.
“For a non-UK and EU citizen like me, it's harder to get event tix, but they sure are concerned about empty seats at most events,” said Liz, a Seattle resident who traveled to London with her family with only a few event tickets in hand. “Don't get me wrong. I'm having a blast. But (the) ticket allocation system that resulted in a lot of empty seats is just funny.
“I can't even buy tickets for rowing today. It sucks.”
Don’t even think about trying to go through the official Olympics site. After completing the necessary online forms, perusing through thousands of tickets and adding some to your cart, Americans are greeted with the following message when they go to pay: “Sorry, you are not eligible to purchase tickets on this website.”
So what’s your best bet to score tickets — Craigslist or eBay? No. Some suggest you make friends with a UK or EU resident for a couple of weeks and funnel them your cash.
From the sounds of it online, though, they’re out of luck, as well. There are rampant reports about the official ticketing site crashing, spinning and showing tickets available that suddenly disappear when you try to buy them.
“Why does the ticket site still offer seats until you try to actually buy them?” asked one UK resident, Chris Marshall. “Olympic tickets is an absolute shambles.”
Maybe it’s not all that bad. There could be a new Olympic competition developing right before everyone’s eyes.
“Trying to get an Olympic ticket should be a sport itself,” said Amiera Ariana of London. “It’s hard work.”
NBC paid nearly $1.2 billion for the U.S. rights to the London Olympics this year. It plans more than 5,500 hours of coverage on its TV networks and through streams on NBCOlympics.com. NBC now says it expects to break even, despite earlier predicting a loss on the games.
Here's a look at how much NBC paid for past games and the number of coverage hours, including those online:
— 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. $705 million, 442 hours.
— 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. $545 million, 375.5 hours.
— 2004 Summer Games in Athens. $793 million, 1,210 hours.
— 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. $613 million, 416 hours.
— 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. $894 million, 3,600 hours.
— 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. $820 million, 835 hours.
— 2012 Summer Games in London. $1.18 billion, 5,535 hours.
Last year, under new owner Comcast Corp., NBC also won a bid for the next four games. It is paying $4.38 billion combined. According to the International Olympic Committee, the breakdown is:
— 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. $775 million.
— 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. $1.226 billion.
— 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. $963 million.
— 2020 Summer Games in Madrid, Tokyo or Istanbul (winning city to be announced next year). $1.418 billion.
With much of the world still buzzing Monday about the gloriously strange Opening Ceremony that London staged the Friday before, the Today show opted to produce a standard “man on the street” segment gauging reactions to the affair from tourists milling in front of Buckingham Palace. The show’s producers, however, failed to notice that one such man on the street interviewed in the clip was boxing great—and Olympic medalist—Evander Holyfield. Holyfield went unidentified in the segment, but, for the record, found the Opening Ceremony to be “wonderful.”
If backlash were an Olympic sport, NBC would win the gold medal by a record margin after the heat it’s received for its controversial insistence on airing the Games’ major events on tape delay. The decision is upsetting spoilerphobes who are discovering the results before they can view them on NBC in primetime through avenues like new websites, Twitter ... and apparently NBC itself. The network made a major goof Monday night when, minutes before airing the time-delayed finals of the 100m backstroke featuring teen phenom Missy Franklin, it ran a promo for Tuesday morning’s episode of Today spoiling Franklin’s gold-medal win. “When you’re 17 years old and win your first gold medal, there’s nobody you’d rather share it with,” the promo teased, before showing footage of Franklin with her parents, ruining the race that would soon follow. The network has since apologized.
Olympic judges and referees came under fire on Wednesday with one fighter accusing them of "a fix", another successfully appealing a loss and even boxing great Lennox Lewis questioning some of their calls.
Iran's Ali Mazaheri cried foul when the heavyweight was disqualified after being warned three times for persistent holding against Cuban Jose Larduet Gomez despite leading by two points going into the second round.
"It was a fix. I could have got a bronze easily if it hadn't been for that," an irate Mazaheri, who walked out of the ring before the decision was officially announced, told reporters through a translator.
"In my previous fights I had done really well. It was a set up."
(Picture right:)Iran's Ali Mazaheri (L) refuses to take part in the decision
The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) responded to Mazaheri's allegations in an email to Reuters, saying: "The Iranian boxer received three warnings during his bout.
"According to Rule 12.2.1 of the AIBA Technical & Competition Rules, 'only three warnings may be given to the same boxer in one contest. The third warning brings automatic disqualification'."
Two bouts earlier, Japan's bantamweight Satoshi Shimizu, trailing by seven points going into the last round against Magomed Abdulhamidov, knocked the Azerbaijani down six times, the first of which he struggled to get up from.
The judges scored the round 10-10, handing Shimizu two extra points for a warning against Abdulhamidov, who propped himself up against the top rope as the referee raised his hand in victory.
The 25-year-old fighter was helped out of the ring by his trainer and Shimizu's team appealed the outcome.
The Japanese boxer's team leader Masamori Yamane accused the referee of trying to support Abdulhamidov by attempting to fix his headgear.
After deliberating for over an hour, AIBA said that under its rules, the referee should have given the Azerbaijani fighter "at least" three standing counts which would have resulted in the contest being stopped.
They, therefore, overturned the result, handing victory to Shimizu, who was staggered by the original decision hours earlier.
An boxing referee from Turkmenistan was expelled from the London Olympics on Thursday for his handling of a bout in which the result was overturned on appeal.
Boxing's governing federation, known as AIBA, released a statement saying referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov "is on his way back home."
The federation also suspended German referee Frank Scharmach five days for his decision to disqualify an Iranian heavyweight, and expelled technical official Aghajan Abiyev of Azerbaijan.
"I deeply regret that we had to take these decisions," AIBA President Wu Ching-Kuo said. "However, our main concern has been and will always be the protection of the integrity and fair play of our competitions. I will take all possible steps to reinforce this."
Both sanctioned referees made unusual decisions during Wednesday night's card.
In a bantamweight bout, Magomed Abdulhamidov of Azerbaijan fell to the canvas six times in the third round against Satoshi Shimizu of Japan, yet still won a 22-17 decision.
Meretnyyazov allowed the fight to continue after each tumble, and he enraged the Japanese team by fixing the headgear worn by Abdulhamidov, who had to be helped from the ring after winning.
AIBA overturned the result late Wednesday night, saying Meretnyyazov should have counted at least three knockdowns and stopped the bout.
Iranian heavyweight Ali Mazaheri was disqualified in his bout with Cuba's Jose Larduet after several warnings for holding from Scharmach, who finally waved off the fight midway through the second round.
The stoppage seemed quick to the booing crowd, and Mazaheri, who stood with his arms outstretched and eventually left the ring without shaking hands with Larduet or Scharmach. Mazaheri claimed the result was "a fix" and "a setup."
Here's a pleasant surprise for Londoners who feared the worst: So far the traffic is flowing just fine despite the extra pressure of the Olympic games.
In fact, with most London motorists choosing to stay away or working from home, it's actually less aggravating to get around town now than usual.
Although some lanes on major London thoroughfares are reserved for Olympic VIPs — and violations could cost motorists 130 pounds ($200) — most major roads were working well for commuters.
The volume of traffic has dropped by nearly 30 percent, officials said Tuesday, easing congestion that might have been caused by the special "Games Lanes."
Many people are heeding government advice and staying away from central London, while others have taken off on summer vacation due to the U.K. school holidays.
"There were initial problems and delays when the "Games Lanes" were introduced last Wednesday, but since then they've cleared up," said Mick Savage, the U.K. director of the firm Trafficmaster. "It's never going to be fluid traffic, but it's easier than normal."
Britain's Olympic Cabinet committee was told Tuesday that subway journeys are up since the Olympics began, while road traffic has dropped, even during rush hours.
The number of people riding the Underground was up about 30 percent over the weekend, with 2.44 million passengers on Sunday, compared to 1.9 million on Sunday July 15, the committee heard.
One reason for the drop in road traffic may be that the anticipated boom in tourism has not matched expectations. Tourism experts said Tuesday that hotel bookings, which had been expected to soar during the July 27-Aug. 12 Olympic period, were actually lagging.
Angela Skelly, director of the JacTravel service, said hotel reservations in London were lower than last year at this time period.
"Bookings for London are very substantially down, whereas bookings for all other European cities are significantly up — as is London in September," she said
A cyclist was killed near the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, after being hit by a bus ferrying journalists between venues. The man, who police say was 28 years old, was struck by the double-decker just outside the park at about 7.40pm. He was not believed to be one of the Olympic athletes.
The Metropolitan police said the man was pronounced dead at the scene in Ruckholt Road, at the junction with the A12. A man in his mid-60s, believed to be the driver, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and was in custody at an east London police station.
A police spokesman said the cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene. He added that the collision was being investigated by the Met's traffic investigation unit.
A London ambulance service spokeswoman said: "We were called at just after 7.30pm to reports of a road traffic collision involving a cyclist and a coach on the A106.
"We sent a single response car, one ambulance crew, the London air ambulance and the duty officer. Sadly one person was pronounced dead at the scene by the air ambulance doctor."
A spokesman for Games organiser Locog said it was working with the police to establish what happened.
A London 2012 spokesman added: "We can confirm that a cyclist tragically died as a result of a collision with a bus carrying media from the Olympic Park this evening.
"The police are investigating the accident and our thoughts are with the cyclist's family."
After the fatal incident, gold medal-winning cyclist Bradley Wiggins was asked for his views on how safe London's roads are for cyclists. He said: "It's dangerous and London is a busy city and [there is] a lot of traffic. I think we have to help ourselves sometimes.
Germany wins equestrian golds
All eyes on royal granddaughter at Olympic equestrian competition
Earning a Royal Silver, as Britain Continues Its Wait for a Gold
New York Times
Royals watch queen's granddaughter win equestrian silver
Zara Phillips, Britain Equestrian Team Wins Silver Medal At London Olympics
Germany wins Olympic equestrian team event
Atlanta Journal Constitution
London Olympics: Germany's Michael Jung takes equestrian gold in individual ...
The Star-Ledger - NJ.com
Zara Phillips wins silver with Britain's equestrian team at Olympics
Royal Zara Phillips wins equestrian Olympic silver
British royal family member among riders in equestrian event ...
Zara Phillips, Queen Elizabeth's Granddaughter, Wins Silver in ...
Equestrian Individual Eventing Final: Germans Win Gold And ...
Zara Phillips, Great Britain Win Silver - Equestrian News
Queen's Granddaughter's Penalty Helps German Equestrians Win
Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, helped Germany win the gold medal in the equestrian team eventing at the London Olympics when she was penalized for hitting a fence and a slow ride.
American spectators at Swimming
Lithuania fan during the team's basketball game
Two Chinese fans (pandas and all) at Women's Platform Diving
Eye on the ball - China's Wang Hao serves during a men's quarterfinals table tennis match
The Olympic Party Place! Dancers entertain the crowd during the Beach Volleyball
Members of the United States water polo team - the Olympics' toughest sport
Jesse Smith of the United States in Water Polo
Gold medalist Kristin Armstrong of the US
Henry VIII's Palace at Hampton Court - start and finish of Cycling
Karen Robinson's cool view from the stands
The Olympics is creating a “ghost town” effect in central London as visitors who would normally flock to the capital’s shops, hotels and theatres stay away, casting doubt on expectations of a short-term economic boost from the games.
The games have attracted as many as 100,000 foreign visitors to London – more than in previous Olympics. But, on its own, that number significantly lags behind the estimated 300,000 foreign tourists who could be expected in a typical year.
Theatres are among the businesses suffering most from emptier streets.
“We’re bleeding, darling,” said Nica Burns, chief executive of Nimax Theatres. “For my six theatres, last week was the worst this year. I think the Olympics are great – but I feel like I’ve been the bullseye for the archery competition.”
London’s top museums and tourist attractions are also feeling the pinch. The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, the body representing them, reported a fall of 30-35 per cent in attendance over the past two weeks, compared with last year.
Bernard Donoghue, ALVA’s chief executive, said its members – who include the British Museum, the Tower of London and the Science Museum – “have been trying to compensate by telling people there are fewer queues and longer opening hours”.
Transport for London, the public body that runs the capital’s Underground and road network, has been warning for months of heavy disruption over the summer in central London and urging travellers to avoid transport hubs and plan alternative routes. The voice of Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, has boomed from station platforms warning of the imminent “huge pressure” on the transport system.
TfL said estimates of journeys on the Tube were up 4 per cent on Monday from normal traffic.
In response to slow bookings, hotels have now cut prices. Research by Hotels.com said prices in London during the Olympics had fallen around 25 per cent in a two-week period in June.
Nick Palan, managing director for Golden Tours, an open-top tour bus company, said: “It’s totally destroyed the market for us this summer. The hotels put up prices heavily earlier in the year and some of the larger tour companies literally stopped selling London back in May. We’re down by over 20 per cent.”
David Cameron, prime minister, has said £13bn of economic investment should flow from the games over four years, some of which is from tourism.
But in the short term, the benefits are more elusive. Mark Field, a London Conservative MP, said: “The message has been going out for months that London would be packed to the rafters – and the transport system would be under pressure – and that has put a lot of people off. The high-end hoteliers are fine because of all the official Olympic guests but many others have not benefited so much.”
Mr Donoghue of ALVA said the body had asked TfL to alter its advice to travellers: “As long as you avoid peak times and stations, London is surprisingly accessible and open for business.”
An estimated 31.6 million people watched NBC's Monday night coverage, the Nielsen company said. That's the lowest of the four nights, but was still better than the 30.2 million who saw the first Monday of the Beijing Olympics four years ago. Again, the victory came despite all of Monday's coverage being tape-delayed, while Beijing had several events in prime time live, including a Michael Phelps gold medal-winning race. In the closely watched morning show ratings, NBC's "Today" show easily eclipsed ABC's "Good Morning America," 5.57 million viewers to 4.08 million, on Monday. Those first-day ratings indicate NBC may achieve its goal of getting exposure for new co-host Savannah Guthrie.
NBC's Olympics executive producer, Jim Bell, tweeted an apology to an angry follower for a Monday night gaffe where the network ran a "Today" show promo with Missy Franklin showing off her gold medal — just before the network aired the race where she won it.
No snooty French berets for Prince William - just a bright orange baseball cap - when he and wife Duchess Kate and brother Prince Harry stopped by the living quarters for athletes at Olympic Park in London's East End on Tuesday afternoon, according to media reports.
The three Olympic ambassadors were all smiles, and no wonder: They had just watched cousin Zara Phillips and her beautiful bay, High Kingdom, take silver with the British equestrian team in the morning as tens of thousands of spectators roared and applauded in the Greenwich Park stadium. The scene of high emotion came complete with a ceremony featuring aunt Princess Anne, a former Olympic equestrian herself, presenting the medals to the winners, and embracing her champion daughter with hugs and kisses.
So it was high spirits all around when Will and Harry and the former Kate Middleton arrived for a surprise visit to the athletes' village at Olympic Park to tour the facilities and meet with members of Team GB and the Australian team. Athletes cheered from balconies as the young royals went by in a crowd of onlookers.
William had donned an orange baseball cap to match the lanyard for his credential hanging from his neck. Kate had tied a red, white and blue Team GB scarf around her neck, and Harry made her laugh out loud playing with a stuffed yellow kangaroo with orange boxing gloves that one of the Aussies had given them.
Everyone was snapping phone pictures and tweeting up a storm. The Associated Press reported that William and Harry, both wearing white Olympics shirts, toured the quarters for the women's handball players. Harry joked that his brother didn't know the rules, but William said he'd been reading up on the sport.
From Five Ring Circus at Slate
On NBC’s primetime broadcast on Monday night, viewers saw a Japanese gymnastics coach handing cash to the judges. This wasn’t a bribe, Tim Daggett explained—it was a deposit on the Japanese team’s appeal regarding a gymnast’s score on the pommel horse. (Japan won the appeal and moved up from fourth to second place, earning a team silver medal.) And in the fencing dispute that saw South Korea’s Shin A Lam sit on the piste for an hour, Shin’s coaches also had to put down a cash deposit before they could lodge their protest. (The South Koreans lost their appeal.)
Why does it cost money to protest Olympic decisions? And how much does it cost?
Though the International Olympic Committee organizes the Summer and Winter Games, the day-to-day management of each individual event is left up to the autonomous international federations that govern each sport. The Olympic Charter stipulates that the IFs are in charge of “the technical control and direction of their sports at the Olympic Games.”
That means there is no single commonly accepted appeals procedure. There are at least 27 IFs running events at the Games, and each has its own rules by which athletes can lodge a protest. Some IFs require the appellant to leave a deposit, presumably to deter frivolous appeals. The Japanese team handed over a $100 bill to appeal Monday’s gymnastics rule, and since the appeal was approved that money should have been returned.
Fencing appeals are slightly cheaper. The International Fencing Federation (FIE) requires that “every appeal must be accompanied by the deposit of a guaranty of US $80, or its equivalent in another currency; this sum may be confiscated for the benefit of the FIE if the appeal is rejected on the grounds that it is ‘frivolous’; this decision will be taken by the juridical authority responsible for hearing the appeal.” The International Boxing Association charges $500 for a protest (“an administrative fee of US $100 will be deducted from this amount and the remaining amount will be refunded if the protest is upheld. If the protest is rejected, the entire fee will not be returned to the protester.”) The International Handball Federation requires a deposit of 500 Swiss francs (around $511). If you’re cash poor, you should go out for taekwondo: The World Taekwondo Federation says you can appeal a decision without having to put any money down.
NBC Delayed @NBCDelayed
Sources: "The British are coming, the British are coming" re: Colonists declaring independence.
30 Jul NBC Delayed @NBCDelayed
BREAKING: Muhammad Ali wins boxing Light Heavyweight gold medal in Rome
29 Jul NBC Delayed @NBCDelayed
BREAKING: Dewey defeats Truman in landslide.
29 Jul NBC Delayed @NBCDelayed
CORRECTION: Dewey doesn't defeat Truman, Truman re-elected President.
29 Jul NBC Delayed @NBCDelayed
Team USA Hockey wins gold, being dubbed "Miracle on Ice"
29 Jul NBC Delayed @NBCDelayed
BREAKING: American colonists announce independence, King to respond.
@guypbenson: Doc makes any sport better.
@JohnKeatingFSD: You have got to love Mike Emrick's voice and energy working water polo for NBC. Well done, Doc. #Hockeyseasonyet
@br00keWhit: Water polo is actually kinda amusing to watch especially with Doc Emrick as a commentator. #itsaPAAWERplAYGoal
@Funkinright33: The reason Im watching the womens water polo game is because Doc Emrick is calling it.I get to hear his majestic voice w/o hearing Pierre
@ShvrMeTimmbers: Doc Emrick makes womens water polo so much more exciting #Boom
@HockeyPains: I want my answering machine to be Doc Emrick doing a play-by-play of why I couldn't answer the phone.
S@TvanRiemsdyk6: Doc Emrick calling the water polo match makes it so much better and makes me miss hockey #bestvocabintheleague
@Brent_Darnell: Hearing Doc Emrick call Water Polo just makes me miss hockey season that much more. #driiiiiiiiiiiive #whatdoyousayedzo
@PaulPabst: Dude, Doc Emrick is calling water polo on MSNBC!
@ricbraun: The fact that Doc Emrick is calling Water Polo during the Olympics is more than enough for me to start watching Water Polo
A Brazilian judoka accidentally broke his Olympic bronze medal when he brought it into the shower. Now he's fighting to have it replaced.
Felipe Kitadai (above) said he was carrying the medal everywhere. He took it with him to the shower as a joke, then dropped it while trying to keep it from getting wet.
Kitadai told Brazil's GloboEsporte.com that the part holding the medal's string broke, and now he can't wear it around his neck. He said there's also a small dent on it.
Kitadai won the bronze in the men's 60-kilogram division Saturday.
The Brazilian Olympic Committee says it will request a new medal even though it knows the International Olympic Committee has no obligation to give Kitadai another one.
IT HAS happened to everyone, but not everyone has a 90,000-seater stadium to look after.
Locks have had to be changed at Wembley stadium, which is hosting Olympics football matches during London 2012, after it emerged that police checking security lost a set of keys.
The officers were searching the venue before the Games began when the keys went missing, prompting a Scotland Yard investigation. A team of police officers was dispatched to search for the keys but failed to find them.
Games organisers said security was not compromised by the loss of the internal set of keys and confirmed the locks were changed.
The Metropolitan Police is not treating the incident as criminal. A spokesman said: "On the morning of Tuesday 24 July officers on Olympic police operations at Wembley Stadium reported that internal security keys, being used by them as part of searches, were missing."
"Detectives also attended to ascertain if there was any evidence of criminal offences, there's none at this time."
She said that Wembley officials were made aware of the incident and added: "There is absolutely no security concern in relation to the stadium as measures were taken immediately to secure all key areas of the venue."
A spokesman for London 2012 moved to quell any fears that there had been a security breach. "Keys being used by police officers on searches at Wembley Stadium were reported missing on 24 July," he said.
"These were internal keys, locks have been changed and the security of the venue has not been compromised in any way."
By Gina Serpe
Kate Middleton, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William attend the cross country equestrian event
Fresh off of comprising one-half of the most prestigious cheer squad that side of the Atlantic, Prince William was back out in the stands again today, this time without David Beckham, but with the company of his wife, Kate Middleton.
The duo were all smiles at Greenwich Park, where they donned official Olympic regalia (white polo and navy Team GB blazer for Kate, navy blue blazer emblazoned with Union Jack, Olympic rings and Team GB logo for Wills) and happily took their seats to watch their cousin, Zara Phillips compete.
The royal granddaughter of the queen (a princess in all but name, since her mother Princess Anne famously eschewed the title for her kids) had the full support of her family while competing in the cross-country equestrian event Monday.
Live From E!: London Edition!: Bruce Jenner and Giuliana Rancic Chat With Hilary Phelps
Along with Will and Kate, Prince Harry, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and of course her mama Princess Anne were on hand to root on the royal as she made her way through the 3.5-mile, 28-obstacle course.
Well, make that 29. Partway through her outing, her horse (appropriately named High Kingdom) lost a shoe.
Which makes it all the more a Cinderella story.
For all the talk about Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte, security concerns and unfilled seats, the trending topic at the Olympic Games might actually be Twitter.
The San Francisco microblogging service has made its omnipresence felt at these Games.
Among other things, it has played a role in the suspensions of two athletes. The International Olympic Committee has blamed loquacious Twitter users in London crowds for causing a broadcasting glitch. And its official partnership with Olympics broadcaster NBC may have led to the suspension of a journalist's account because he was critical of NBC's broadcast strategy.
London 2012 has cemented Twitter's role as both a global living room and a global water cooler that draws citizens of all sorts - from the athletes themselves to armchair judges at home - to participate in a communal discussion about the world as it happens.
More than ever before, Internet users have the choice of shifting between lives divided by time zones to ones where the world happens at once. No longer limited to the views of friends, family, reporters and announcers, they can tune into the instantaneous tweets of half a billion Twitter feeds across the globe.
"The social Web has equalized time zones in a way that people are grappling with," said Susan Etlinger, an analyst at business consulting firm Altimeter Group. "As people become more acclimated to sharing these world experiences on social media, we'll see a diversity of opinions that you can't get through traditional media."
Not that old media is being killed by Twitter. In fact, NBC posted record ratings throughout the Games' first weekend. The network has credited real-time social-media buzz for enticing more people to tune into its tape-delayed evening coverage.
Twitter's growing presence has been apparent in more than half a dozen instances in opening days of the Games:
-- NBC drew outrage Friday, mainly through Twitter, for not telecasting an Opening Ceremony tribute to the victims of the July 7, 2005, terrorist attacks in London, replacing it with an interview of swimming star Phelps.
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME? NBC cut a tribute to victims of the 7/7 attacks? Because we're too dumb to remember them? Why?" San Francisco blogger Meg Keene posted to Twitter.
An NBC spokesman said its coverage is "tailored for the U.S. audience."
-- On Sunday, U.S. soccer player Hope Solo was chastised by her coach for using Twitter to question the knowledge of NBC soccer analyst Brandi Chastain, a former soccer star. A Twitter spokeswoman said employees met with U.S. athletes before the Games to offer thoughts on best practices for tweeters.
-- After a 2-1 loss to South Korea on Sunday, a Swiss soccer player posted a message on Twitter that basically called Koreans idiots and told them to burn. The team sent him home on Monday.
-- His gaffe followed that of a female Greek triple-jumper who was dropped from her team last week before the Opening Ceremony for posting a tweet that said mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus in Greece could feed off all the African immigrants in the country.
-- During Saturday's cycling events, Olympic organizers said they had trouble pulling data from GPS devices on bicycles because Twitter users and text message senders were overloading telecommunications infrastructure.
-- U.S. track athlete Sanya Richards-Ross has been leading a crusade - via Twitter hashtags #rule40 and #WeDemandChange - against an international rule that bans athletes from promoting their own sponsors through social media during the Games. She and others are sponsored by Nike, but only Adidas can be mentioned during the Olympics because it is the official sportswear sponsor. Nike, however, was one of several brands that advertised on Twitter over the weekend, and added about 8,000 followers.
-- The Associated Press reported that British police are looking into a tweet directed at British diver Tom Daley, who lost his father a year ago to cancer, that said he let his father down. If considered menacing, offensive or indecent, the tweet would be illegal under British law.
-- And Monday, Twitter, at the behest of NBC, shut down the account of Guy Adams, a Los Angeles correspondent for the British newspaper the Independent. In joining the chorus of complaints about NBC's decision not to stream the Opening Ceremony live online, Adams tweeted the publicly available e-mail address of an NBC executive. As is its policy, Twitter declined to comment on a specific user account. But in an e-mail to Adams, Twitter said he had been suspended for "posting an individual's private information."
The Games have proven a huge social-media subject. Procera Networks of Fremont said social-networking traffic was up 25 percent over normal levels last weekend, with the same amount of users posting more frequently to websites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Social-widget maker AddThis, which is crunching social-media data during the Olympics, said since Sunday that content including the term "Twitter" has been shared vigorously across the social Web, with terms like "dismissal," "gymnastics," "infographic" and "vieira" (NBC host Meredith) popping up alongside.
"What we think is interesting is Twitter is really part of the conversation right now," AddThis head of marketing Allison Tepley said.
While Twitter has helped bring average Joes closer to the Phelpses and Lochtes of the world, as well as to reporters, executives and fellow sports watchers from Brazil to Indonesia, its network provides a different kind of connection.
"You can connect with people online, but you can't sit down and have a beer with them," said Scott Campbell, a professor of telecommunications at the University of Michigan. "It's different type of values."
Campbell said big, dramatic events, such as the Olympics or the killing of Osama bin Laden, are so complicated and uncertain that many people still prefer having information explained to them rather than solely digging through a list of links.
"It might be easier to let the network tell them what the great big story is going to be," Campbell said.
And for all the buzz around Twitter, investors are most concerned with bottom-line realities. As a business, it still faces challenges as it competes with older and larger social-network Facebook for eyeballs and advertising dollars of small businesses.
About three times more content is shared through Facebook than via Twitter. Analysts and communications experts say Twitter must continue to lower the learning curve for new users, and create more curated and visual experiences.
A spectator sits among empty seats on the first day of the swimming competition at the Aquatics Centre
(Reuters) - Olympic organizers scrambled on Sunday to quell a backlash over depressing TV images of half-empty stands at the London Olympics as a government minister said an urgent inquiry had been launched to identify just who had failed to show up and why.
Sports fans from all over Britain who had been charmed by the Olympic publicity offensive but let down by a complex ballot system for the 8.8 million tickets, have been outraged by footage of empty seats at key venues including Wimbledon, one of the hottest tickets in world tennis.
Chairman Sebastian Coe, who threatened to name and shame sponsors that did not fill their seats, said missing spectators were mostly officials from international sports federations, other Olympic officials, their families and friends.
"It doesn't obviously appear to be a sponsorship issue at the moment," Coe said, after Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt said he thought the vacant seats had belonged to sponsors.
Coe, a former Olympic gold medalist on the track, said that only eight percent of allocated tickets went to big corporate sponsors such as Visa and Coca-Cola and that 75 percent of tickets were in the hands of the public.
Sponsors P&G, Visa, McDonald's, BMW and Coca-Cola have all issued statements reassuring officials, fans and athletes that their allocated tickets have been and will be used by winners of promotional contests, partners, customers and employees.
"All of our guests are incredibly excited to be able to be a part of London 2012 and we believe that usage levels of our tickets have been extremely high so far," Coca-Cola said in a statement on Sunday.
Another storm may be looming over attendance figures for the Olympic Park, where more than 20,000 journalists are on duty for the Games but which park visitors have repeatedly described as "spacious".
Media officials from the London organizing committee (LOCOG) have been unable to answer repeated requests from Reuters since Saturday morning about the number of ticketholders who have entered the 2.5 square km park in east London housing the Olympic stadium, aquatics centre, velodrome and other venues.
Tickets for park entrance cost 10 pounds ($15.71) for adults and 5 pounds for those under 16 or over 60.
They give the holder the opportunity to stroll around, take in the street entertainment, watch live sports on the big screen on the rolling meadows in the centre of the park and, crucially, to buy on-the-spot recycled tickets for some of the events where there are empty seats.
The cycling road race and rowing events were filled on Saturday, Coe said, but added that other events such as basketball, gymnastics, swimming and tennis had seats going empty because they had been held open for officials like himself making short visits to venues or wrestling with busy schedules.
"There are tens of thousands of people at the moment within the accredited family (of sports officials and guests) who are trying to figure out what their day looks like," Coe said.
He said London organizers were trying to fill spare seats by inviting local children and teachers to use spare tickets, selling more tickets, handing tickets to the military and upgrading other ticketholders.
He said LOCOG sold 1,000 tickets on Saturday and put soldiers into seats at the gymnastics.
"I don't think this is going to be an issue, certainly it's not going to be an issue right through the Games," he added.
But there was a loud public outcry on Sunday.
"As a Londoner with two kids desperate to take part we feel excluded and it is especially galling when you see all those empty seats," said Sara Jourdan, a 42-year-old teacher. "We would love to be there."
A Twitter account called @Olympicseat was created, and had 4,900 followers at 19:50 GMT on Sunday.
One tweet said: "I feel so empty."
Organizers said they were already in touch with the International Olympic Committee to discover who failed to show up and why.
A Games official told Reuters it was still unclear whether the empty seats in several events, including Wimbledon, swimming, gymnastics and basketball, had been allocated to sponsors, international federations and athletes' families.
"We are trying to find out who these tickets belonged to," said the official.
British Olympic Association Chairman Colin Moynihan told a briefing on Sunday one solution might be a 30-minute rule whereby fans would be allowed to take up vacant seats if spectators were late or did not arrive.
Moynihan said the search was on for those who had not taken up tickets. "Where you have large blocks of seats you can pretty quickly know," Moynihan said.
More vacant seats were reported on Sunday.
"We've got a few empty seats, so please shout twice as loud for those empty ones," announcer Ian Oswald said at one men's weight-lifting event.
Empty seats were reported at the women's gymnastics, particularly close to the mat. Soldiers, apparently who had been on security duty, occupied some of the empty chairs.
Seats were also vacant at the eventing dressage despite the appearance of Zara Phillips, Queen Elizabeth's grand-daughter, who is part of the British team.
Although fencing and boxing were pretty full, there were clumps of empty seats at the canoe slalom and at Wimbledon for tennis a large number of seats stood empty with stickers saying "athlete" and others that were designated for Olympic sports officials.
At the basketball, journalists unable to find seats in the press area who had migrated to empty corporate sponsorship seats were moved on, after the sponsors arrived late due to a traffic jam in London.
A block reserved for the Olympic family even remained empty at the popular beach volleyball for most of the time.
Hunt, the minister responsible for the Olympics, said he was disappointed by the footage of rows of empty seats.
"LOCOG are doing a full investigation into what happened," Hunt told the BBC after a widely praised surreal and exuberant opening ceremony starring the Queen, Paul McCartney and actor Rowan Atkinson.
"We think it was accredited seats that belong to sponsors, but if they are not going to turn up, we want those tickets to be available for members of the public," Hunt said on Saturday.
LOCOG became used to putting up the "sold out" sign within minutes of each tranche of tickets going on sale to the public.
On Saturday some ticket box offices at venues in the park still had queues of people seeking to buy tickets for selected sports.
LOCOG has declined to provide a figure for the number of people in the park or how many tickets had been sold but said that 11 million people would attend the Games.
By early June, 7 million of the total 8.8 million Olympic tickets had been sold, and about half of the 2.45 million Paralympic tickets, in a process that began last year.
But the combination of a complex and opaque online ticketing system which appeared unable to cope with the huge demand and seemed skewed towards those prepared to bid for thousands of pounds worth of tickets, resulted in a wary public.
In early June, LOCOG still had about 550,000 tickets to sell with just weeks to go.
A large chunk of them were so-called contingency tickets which had been held back while logistics such as TV camera positions were resolved.
Jin Horne, a 29-year-old financial analyst in London's financial district, said on her way into see the gymnastics on Sunday morning that she could not get tickets for her friend visiting town.
"I heard my company had loads of tickets but they were only for very important people," she said.
Bruce Jenner and Mary Lou Retton
By Roger Blitz, Leisure Industries Correspondent
U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas performs on the uneven bars
Cyclists compete during the Men’s Road Cycling race
Cool pic of the Beach Volleyball venue
The Queen meets members of Team GB during a tour of the Athletes' Village
Jesus Diaz - Gizmodo
Olympic torch goes out!
This is not a metaphor: the Olympic Flame has died for real, as technicians were moving the cauldron to a new location in the stadium. Now, they have to sacrifice 12 virgin ping-pong players and start a war with the Persians.
Actually, they just sent some old guy named Austin Playfoot on a cherry picker to re-light it. It looked more ridiculous than majestic, but it did the trick. At least Mr. Playfoot was one of the Olympic Torch-bearers, both this year and back in the 1948 London Olympics.
According to millenary tradition, the flame has to burn inside its cauldron for the duration of the game. It went out this Sunday, 11:14pm London time.
Thankfully, it was not accidentally extinguished by London's perpetual rain. It had to be extinguished for security reasons before the cauldron was moved to a new location. Before unceremoniously turning off the gas, they lit up the torch that was used by Mr. Playfoot to relight the cauldron this morning.
The move follows strong criticism by British media, which has been hammering the games' organizers' decision to place the cauldron in a place where it can't be seen from anyone outside of the stadium—something that apparently has never happened in Olympic history. Their strong criticism included words like bloody, git, knobhead, cabbage and how dare they. They also wrote organizers in the traditional British way: organisers.
The task of keeping the flame alight has required a mammoth effort from organisers, with special arrangements being made for keeping it burning while on planes, speedboats and on the top of mountains.
In the event that it was extinguished while on its journey around Britain, a “motherflame” was kept nearby to relight it.
This motherflame is said to be “descended” from the “real” Olympic flame in Athens, Greece
Denis Lynch aboard Lantinus
LONDON — An Irish equestrian has lost his appeal to be selected for the Olympic jumping competition.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport says it rejected Denis Lynch’s challenge of Horse Sport Ireland because it had no authority to hear the case.
Irish officials had nominated Cian O’Connor to replace Lynch getting one of two entries in individual jumping. Lynch was originally selected then withdrawn after his horse, Lantinus, was disqualified from a recent event because of health issues.
The competition begins Saturday at Greenwich Park.
O’Connor won the show jumping at the 2004 Athens Olympics but was stripped of his gold medal after his horse tested positive for a banned substance.
LONDON -- So what's a lifetime of blood, sweat and tears worth? At the London Olympics, the market value is about $708.
That's the going rate for the gold contained in the gold medals that will be handed out over the next two weeks, according to the World Gold Council. While that may not sound like much, the high price of gold makes this year's top prize more valuable than any handed out in the history of the modern Olympics.
And while the athletes will certainly disagree, judging strictly from the precious metals that make up the precious medals, there's not much difference between first and second since the London golds are actually 92.5% silver, 6.16% copper and just 1.34% gold.
Why fudge on the gold?
Well, given the fact the London medals are -- at 85 millimeters in diameter, 8-10 millimeters in thickness and 412 grams in weight -- the biggest and heaviest in Olympic history, a gold medal made of solid gold would be worth nearly $40 million.
The last Olympic medals made entirely of gold were awarded in 1912. But this year's medals, which contain only a thin coat of gold, are 17 times as heavy as those were.
The International Olympic Committee insists that each gold medal have no less than 92.5% silver and at least six grams of gold. But after that? Well four years ago the Beijing medals contained jade, which signifies virtue to the Chinese. The British chose copper as the third ingredient this year.
Here are some more striking medal facts courtesy of the World Gold Council:
* During the first of the modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, winners were awarded a silver medal and an olive branch while the runners-up got a bronze medal and a laurel branch. (Presumably third-place finishers got zinc and a pine cone.)
* Apparently the whole medal thing took awhile to catch on though, because in the 1900 Games in Paris winners received paintings while one pole vaulter runner-up got an umbrella.
* Still that's better than the Ancient Olympics in Greece. Only the winner got a prize then and it was a wreath made of wild olive leaves from a sacred tree near the temple of Zeus at Olympia. And they didn't even have Nike sponsorship deals to fall back on.
* Eight tons of silver, gold and copper -- much of it mined in Utah -- was used to make the Olympic medals for London, each of which takes 10 hours to complete. The metal discs are struck 15 times under 900 tons of pressure to imprint the unique design for the London Games.
Britain was forced to bring in military personnel at short notice to provide security for the London Olympics -- and has now done the same to help fill thousands of empty seats at several venues despite the massive public demand for tickets.
Responding to early criticisms that some athletes have been performing in largely vacant venues, London Olympics Chairman Sebastian Coe said Sunday that organizers have begun authorizing off-duty military personnel and local school children to begin filling thousands of empty seats across the city.
Many ordinary people who applied for tickets -- in what was essentially a lottery – missed out and there were numerous complaints about the allocation process.
But the first day saw rows of empty seats at events including swimming, dressage, tennis, gymnastics and volleyball -- according to reports in The Guardian and Telegraph newspapers -- to the outrage of many, including U.K. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Hunt said the sight of so many empty seats was "very disappointing," according to ITV News. "I was at the Beijing Games, in 2008, and one of the lessons that we took away from that, is that full stadia create the best atmosphere, it's best for the athletes, it's more fun for the spectators, it's been an absolute priority," he added.
London 2012 organizers LOCOG said it was looking into the issue, saying it appeared many of the empty seats were in "accredited seating areas," which are reserved for members of the "Olympic family," such as officials, athletes, their family and friends, journalists, and some corporate sponsors.
Coe said spotty early attendance has been a persistent issue at most Olympic Games, as holders of prime tickets—including corporate sponsors and accredited members of the broader Olympic movement — determine where they will be spending their time.
"We take it seriously, Coe said. "I don't want to see those empty seats. But I don't think you will see this as an issue through the games."
The chairman said that after one full day of competition it was not appropriate to "name and shame'' those who weren't turning up. And he said the blame should not fall on wealthy corporate sponsors who he said were not the problem.
It is a huge challenge – reconciling the demands of a public who have been relentlessly told this is a once in a lifetime event they can tell their children and grandchildren about with the fact that the Games is also a semi-private event with a host of onerous rules imposed by the organisation that bestows it on the host cities.
Despite the fair wind afforded organisers by the weather, the lack of major transport issues and the feelgood response to Danny Boyle's opening ceremony – not to mention the positive atmosphere and good organisation at the Park – how they deal with this issue could be one of the factors that defines perceptions of the opening days of London's Games.
The mystery woman case dominated Indian media's coverage of the opening of the games.
"Who's That Girl?" asked the front page of The Hindustan Times.
"Leaky London: Unaccounted presence in march past," said a headline in the Times of India. The newspaper said the mystery woman had "brazenly gatecrashed the party, raising security concerns and adding to the anger over India's blink-and-miss appearance on global TV screens."
Bedi said India's acting chef de mission, P.K.M. Raja, had sent games organizers an official letter of complaint.
"I think this is definitely a security lapse," Bedi said.
But London organizing chief Sebastian Coe insisted the woman had not posed a threat to the ceremony. He told reporters she was "a cast member who clearly got slightly over-excited."
Some 10,000 volunteers performed alongside professional musicians, actors and dancers in Boyle's spectacular ceremony.
Coe stressed the woman had been screened to get into Olympic Stadium so there had been no security breach.
"Don't run away with the idea that she walked in off the street," Coe said, adding that games officials "will have our own discussions" about the incident.
A British fan reacts during the women’s handball
A supporter of the Japanese team at the ExCel Centre
United States fan smiles with her face painted at women’s soccer
Great Britain fan at women's handball
Thailand's fans at men's doubles badminton match
USA fans at United States and Colombia soccer
USA's Ryan Lochte poses with his dental braces bearing the US flag
LONDON: The Indian contingent is furious over a strange trespass bang in the middle of their official march in Friday's opening ceremony.
Any lingering disappointment about a lack of camera spotlight on the nation's athletes was overshadowed by the mystery of a lady in red and blue who walked alongside flag bearer Sushil Kumar.
The woman of unknown origin brazenly gate crashed the party, raising security concerns and adding to the anger over India's blink-and-miss appearance on global TV screens.
The Indian contingent - around 40 athletes and 11 officials in all - marched into the stadium with the men in yellow Rajasthani turbans, blue blazers and white trousers and the women in yellow sarees and blue blazers. Sticking out in the small contingent was a beaming young woman, seemingly Indian or of Indian origin, in a red track top, blue pants and sneakers. There she was, smiling at the cameras, even waving, soaking in the moment taking and an evening stroll as it were.
Inexplicably, the Indian camp is clueless about the trespasser's identity. "She had no business being there. It was a clear case of intrusion," said the acting chef-demission, Brig P K M Raja (right). "We are taking up the issue with the organizers. We don't know who she is and why she was allowed to walk in."
The Indians suspect a security breach and have decided to take up the matter with the London Olympic Games Organizing Committee (LOCOG).
"It is a shame that she was walking with our athletes," said Raja.
"We checked in together at various points from the Village. It was a 2km walk. When we were entering the stadium, a member of the organizing committee or some security guy asked to be in front of us. We thought the woman was part of LOCOG. When we entered the stadium, the woman who was walking between us and the contingent ahead of us, the Independent Olympic Athletes, suddenly came back and started walking next to Sushil Kumar, our flag-bearer. She just hogged the limelight. The march past is for the athletes and officials attached to the contingent. We are totally surprised by the manner in which she joined the delegation and kept walking inside the stadium," he said.
Asked whether the woman was Indian, he said he could not say. "She could be Asian, Latin American, I don't know."
Did he think it was a security breach? "I can't say that as she was in a sanitized zone but this was bizarre. We will ask for an apology. She embarrassed us in front of the world... the Indian contingent was shown for just 10 seconds, and to think this lady hogged all the limelight."
Surely, the last has not been heard on this.
A day after photos of the 'mystery woman' appeared in newspapers and went viral on social networking sites, a newspaper claimed to have identified the young lady as Madhura Honey, a post-graduate from Bangalore.
Deccan Chronicle, quoting sources, said that her friend from the college was also baffled seeing her with the Indian contingent. She has been living in London and before she went with the Indian team, she had displayed her Olympic passes on her Facebook account. But once this became an issue, she had deactivated her Facebook account.
The Indian contingent, however, was willing to wait for an official confirmation about the identity of the person.
"I am also aware of these reports. But I can't comment on newspaper reports. We want something from the organisers," Raja said.
The young lady in red shirt and blue trouser was seen leading the Indian contingent in the march past alongside Beijing Games bronze medallist Sushil Kumar and her unwanted presence has not gone down well with the Indians, who had no clue as to who she was.
Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William and Harry
Attention Harry hunters: Britain's young royals will be out and about in force during the London Olympics, most notably at the equestrian venue in Greenwich Park.
Prince William, his wife Kate and Prince Harry are official ambassadors for the British Olympic team. They will all attend equestrian events — where the princes' cousin and Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter Zara Phillips is a competitor — and will hand out medals in team and individual eventing Tuesday. Phillips, the daughter of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, is on England's eventing team.
The royals' Clarence House announced Monday the events Prince Charles, his wife Camilla, William, Kate and Harry will attend.
All five will be at Friday's Opening Ceremony, where the queen will officially open the Olympics.
The queen on Monday welcomed members of the International Olympic Ceremony at Buckingham Palace and was presented with medals by the organization's president, Jacques Rogge.
"In the coming days, over 10,000 athletes from more than 200 nations will be undertaking their final preparations following years of dedication, hard work and personal sacrifice," said the queen, 86. "We send our warm wishes to them all for a rewarding and enjoyable games."
Kate, now known as the Duchess of Cambridge, will be watching gymnastics and synchronized swimming, William will see a Team GB (Great Britain) soccer match and Harry will drop by beach volleyball
Olympic organisers scrambled on Sunday to quell a scandal over depressing TV images of half-empty stands at the London Olympics as a government minister said an urgent inquiry had been launched to identify just who had failed to show up, and why.
Fans from all over Britain who had been charmed by the Olympic publicity offensive, but were let down by a complex ballot system, were outraged by footage of empty seats at key venues including Wimbledon - one of the hottest tickets in world tennis.
"It's infuriating to see so many empty seats on TV. Surely it can't be beyond the organisers to allow real sports fans to fill them up on a first come first served basis?" said Ed Shorthose, a London-based father of two who has been trying for months to get tickets to see the Games.
More vacant seats were reported on Sunday, the second day of the Games.
Organisers said they were in touch with the International Olympic Committee to discover who failed to show up and why.
A Games official told Reuters it was still unclear whether the empty seats in several events, including Wimbledon, swimming, gymnastics and basketball, had been allocated to sponsors, international federations and athletes' families.
"We are trying to find out who these tickets belonged to," said the official.
British Olympic Association Chairman Colin Moynihan told a briefing on Sunday one solution might be a 30-minute rule whereby fans would be allowed to take up vacant seats if spectators were late or did not arrive.
Moynihan said the search was on for who had not taken up tickets. "Where you have large blocks of seats you can pretty quickly know," Moynihan said.
Spectators reported more empty seats on Sunday.
"We've got a few empty seats, so please shout twice as loud for those empty ones," announcer Ian Oswald said at one men's weight-lifting event.
More empty seats were reported at the women's gymnastics, particularly close to the mat. Soldiers, apparently who had been on security duty, occupied some of the empty chairs.
Seats were also vacant at the eventing dressage despite the appearance of Zara Phillips, Queen Elizabeth's grand-daughter, who is part of the British team.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the minister responsible for the Olympics, said he was disappointed by the empty seats and that the London Organising Committee (LOCOG) were looking into it.
"LOCOG are doing a full investigation into what happened," Hunt told publicly funded broadcaster BBC after a widely praised surreal and exuberant opening ceremony starring the queen, Paul McCartney and Rowan Atkinson.
"We think it was accredited seats that belong to sponsors, but if they are not going to turn up, we want those tickets to be available for members of the public, because that creates the best atmosphere. So we are looking at this very urgently at the moment," Hunt said on Saturday.
Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said he was surprised that the events were not full.
LOCOG became used to putting up the "sold out" sign within minutes of each tranche of tickets going on sale to the public.
On Saturday some ticket box offices at venues in the park still had queues of people seeking to buy tickets for selected sports.
LOCOG declined to provide a figure for the number of people in the park on Saturday or how many tickets had been sold but said that 11 million people would attend the Games.
By early June, 7 million of the total 8.8 million Olympic tickets had been sold, and about half of the 2.45 million Paralympic tickets, in a process that began last year.
But the combination of a complex and opaque online ticketing system which appeared unable to cope with the huge demand and seemed skewed towards those prepared to bid for thousands of pounds worth of tickets, resulted in a wary public.
About a quarter of the 928,000 tickets made available in May failed to sell, including for popular sports such as beach volleyball and boxing.
In early June, LOCOG still had about 550,000 tickets to sell with just weeks to go.
A large chunk of them were so-called contingency tickets which had been held back while logistics such as TV camera positions were resolved.
Jin Horne, a 29-year-old financial analyst in London's financial district, said on her way into see the gymnastics on Sunday morning that she could not get tickets for her friend visiting town.
"I heard my company had loads of tickets but they were only for very important people," she said.
July 28, 2012
A number of stalls ran out of food at lunch time leaving customers with long waits while vendors re-stocked at the site in Greenwich, south east London.
Some spectators missed British rider Mary King's electric performance as they struggled to get something to eat.
Equestrian sport manager Tim Hadaway (right) said his team would have a "thorough debrief" at the end of today and address any issues that had come up.
The 20,500 capacity venue holds an unusually large crowd for a dressage event - Badminton attracts around 3,000 people.
Debbie Pearce, 50, who lives in Greenwich, said: "We've been queuing for more than an hour. My friend's vegetarian and there's nothing for her to eat. We were in another queue but when we got to the front they had run out of food.
"Nobody's brought anything in because we didn't think you were allowed to. At the end of the day we've paid to come and see the event, not queue for food."
Marlies MacKichan, 54, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, had given up trying to buy food.
She said: "There's just not enough, it doesn't seem adequate what they have for the crowds. We don't know what this stall is selling because they're just making things ad hoc, whatever they can find. One woman was just asking for two pieces of plain bread."
A worker was left outside an outlet on the north side of the arena holding a cardboard sign saying "no food, just snacks and drinks".
Gordon Verity, 69, and his wife Jennifer, 65, had travelled from Hampshire for the event, and missed King because they were queuing.
Mr Verity said: "You have to accept that you're going to have to queue, but it is a bit disappointing."
The couple had left their seats around 1pm, and were still waiting for something to eat at 2.40pm.
His wife said: "We did want to see Mary King but she's gone now. Everybody left at the same time as the judges to go and have lunch, if we had realised it would be like this we could have staggered it a bit."
Mr Hadaway said that overall the first day had gone "amazingly well" for the venue, and that he wuld address any issues that were raised.
He said: "We will have a thorough debrief at the end of the day and look at how things will develop over the coming days.
"We've just built a 20,000 seater venue and got 20,000 people into the venue on the first ever day. We've built it and now it's another thing turning it into a top class operational venue. I think it's gone amazingly well. There's a lot of happy smiling faces enjoying the spectacle."
The Court of Arbitration for Sport says it expects to rule on a selection dispute in Ireland's Olympic equestrian team on Saturday.
CAS says rider Denis Lynch has challenged Horse Sport Ireland's nomination of Cian O'Connor in a two-rider team in individual jumping. The competition begins on Aug. 4 at Greenwich Park.
Lynch was originally selected and then withdrawn after his horse, Lantinus, was disqualified from a recent event on health grounds.
O'Connor won gold in jumping at the 2004 Athens Olympics but was stripped of his medal after his horse tested positive for a banned substance.
Lynch and Lantinus were disqualified at the 2008 Beijing Olympics for using a banned medication.
Lynch's appeal is the third case registered by CAS at its Olympic court.
Read more here:
Red Arrows fly over the Olympic Stadium
Fireworks over the Thames at Tower Bridge in London mark the opening of the Olympic Games
Olympic Stadium is lit up during the Opening Ceremony
The flag of Great Britain is projected on the Houses of Parliament
Patriotic revellers celebrate the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Hyde Park
People celebrate the opening of the Games in Trafalgar Square
Olympic fans arrive for the Opening Ceremony (everyone looks like Pedro, no?)
USA fans display their colors prior to the Opening Ceremony
James Bond (Daniel Craig) and the Queen head to the helicopter
Queen's helicopter on the way to Olympic Stadium
The Queen parachutes into Opening Ceremony
HRH The Queen arrives at the Royal Box at the Opening Ceremony
A feat of choreography, rhythm and revolution, the industrial scene concludes with the Olympic Rings rising above the Stadium
Hilarious! British actor Rowan Atkinson assumes his role as Mr Bean
Lots of Mary Poppins
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
The Union flag is raised in the stadium
Towering chimneys represent the Industrial Revolution
Color shift! Can you guess which team this is by their colors? We bet not. This is Team Germany
Team Great Britain
Jade Bailey, a young footballer, one of the sporting stars of the future, holds the torch high as she passes under Tower Bridge in a speedboat driven by David Beckham
The Olympic Cauldron
Paul McCartney closes the opening ceremony at London
Opening Ceremony director Danny Boyle and Co. treated us to some Mary Poppins, James Bond, Chariots of Fire, and loads more British culture. Maybe too much, but still, we laughed, we cried, and we waved our hands while singing 'Hey Jude' – yes, even in the NBC newsroom. It was all very awkward.
But the Opening Ceremony isn't all emotions, symbols, and culture. It took years of planning, months of rehearsals, and a number (get it?) of other things to fall in place. Here are 17 numbers that stood out during Friday evening's Opening Ceremony.
25 – Weight in tons of the Olympic Bell, which was rung by British cyclist Bradley Wiggins to signify the start of the Ceremony.
89 – Animals featured in the "Green and Pleasant Land" opening scene: 40 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, and nine geese, all overseen by 34 animal handlers.
600 – Bubble guns used in the "Frankie & June" sequence.
60,000 – Fans packed into Olympic Stadium to witness the sold-out Opening Ceremony.
204 – Copper petals that make up the Cauldron, each representing a competing nation.
284 - rehearsals at two East London sites and the Olympic Stadium
1920 – Year the Olympic flag first flew over the Games. The Rings were designed by Pierre de Coubertin and debuted in Antwerp as a peace symbol following World War I.
21 – How many vertical miles high the Olympic Rings will be carried into space.
7 Billion – Pieces of paper dropped on the stadium as confetti -- one for each person on Earth. Don't worry, nature lovers. It's all biodegradable.
79,000 – Square feet of real grass on the "British meadow," including crops.
4 – Number of Academy Awards won by "Chariots of Fire," an Olympic favorite.
965 – Drummers in the "Pandemonium" scene, a band mostly made up of volunteers.
7,345 - square metres of real turf and crops in the Green and Pleasant Land
70,799 – Panels in the pixel screen that creates vibrant images in the stands of the Stadium.
500 - speakers and 50 tons of sound equipment used in the million-watt PA system
4 Billion – Estimated viewers of Opening Ceremony on televisions around the world.
10,490 – Athletes competing in the Games, though not all of them were in the Parade of Nations (notable absence: Ryan Lochte).
7,500 – Volunteers who took part in Opening Ceremony.
59 – Weeks total 'Hey Jude' was No. 1 on the charts, second most all-time.
0 – Minutes left before the Olympics. Let the Games begin.
Our media shuttle leaving the opening ceremony has crashed into an overpass smashing window of top deck of double decker
Wait, so did Sgt Pepper end the Industrial Revolution?
a tribute to national health service with music from the exorcist
Watching the opening ceremony in a restaurant, with no sound, & it looks like a musical w zombies & orphans? #huh
Olympics...Agrarian 2industrial revolution...mass exodus...looks like an evacuation! Watching the set change...we're all roadies now. Z-z-z
Boyd Martin rides Neville Bardos during the 2010 World Equestrian Games
LONDON -- His barn was on fire. His horses were inside. Olympic equestrian rider Boyd Martin really didn't consider any other option.
He ran toward the flames.
"At the time it was pretty ugly," Martin said. "The building's on fire and you feel pretty helpless. Your whole livelihood is in there. You decide to have a crack at it. I put in a bit of fight [with firefighters], got through and ran in there to see what I could do."
The Memorial Day 2011 fire at Martin's Pennsylvania farm raged through the two-story structure that housed two employees and 11 equestrian horses Martin trained, owned or rode in competitions.
His staff escaped and called the fire department and Martin, who lived down the road and rushed to the scene. Among the horses trapped was Neville Bardos, one of the best equestrian horses in the country who already owed his life to his owner.
Martin ran into fire with his coach, Phillip Dutton, and found Neville Bardos deep in his smoke-filled stall, 75 feet beyond the barn's entrance.
"You couldn't see anything. There was smoke everywhere and the top of the roof was burning. The whole building was ablaze," Martin said. "There was hay on the floor. It was pretty horrific.
"He was in the corner of the stable. I got hold of him and dragged him out. [Dutton] managed get behind the horse and push him out with his shoulder.
"Thirty seconds later and it would have been too late."
The barn collapsed. Six horses died.
Neville Bardos had been previously saved him from the dog-food factory when Martin purchased him in his native Australia for $1,000 several years ago.
Fourteen months later, Martin and Neville Bardos are a comeback story like none other at the London Olympics. Neville Bardos is here as Martin's backup horse. Another horse that survived the fire, Otis Barbotiere, is the primary mount Martin rode to qualify for the Games, and will be his lead horse as he begins competition Saturday in individual and team eventing.
The fire, however, doesn't begin to describe the depths from which Martin emerged in the last year.
"Funny enough, my father got killed two weeks after that fire," Martin says in a thick Australian accent that somehow takes the sting out of the worst news. "That was an awful thing to hear. He was in a bike race in Sydney and got hit by a truck and was on life support. He lived for about four or five days and I managed to go back and say goodbye to him."
Martin's parents were Olympians. His father, Ross, was a cross country skier for Australia, and his mother, Toy, was an American speed skater. They met competing during the 1969 Winter Games.
Martin also lost his father-in-law to cancer last summer. Martin's wife, Silva, is a Grand Prix dressage rider from Germany who recently became a U.S. citizen. Boyd Martin's dual citizenship enabled him to move to the U.S. in 2009 and begin his road to being an American Olympian.
The Olympics will carry some heavy reminders. Riding the horses he rescued reminds him of those he lost. Being an Olympian with his mother reminds him of his father's absence.
Martin said he feels ready to compete.
"I think I'm through the worst of it," he said. "But it's something you don't forget about. It's something you think about every day, and every day gets a bit easier.
"It's like anything, you go through something horrific and it always stays with you. But you either let it defeat you, or you move on and push on and look toward the future."
JULY 26, 2012
As far as pure volume and scope, no undertaking in television history rivals NBC Universal’s Olympic coverage that starts Friday across 10 platforms, including six TV networks.
The numbers are staggering: 5,535 hours combined among NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, NBCOlympics.com, two specialty channels and the first-ever 3-D platform.
To put it in perspective, 16 years ago, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics were covered on just one channel — NBC — which aired 171 hours. By contrast, Spanish-language channel Telemundo will surpass that by two hours over the next 17 days.
The tonnage dwarfs NBC Universal’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by nearly 2,000 hours.
“If you put those 5,535 hours across a linear platform, it would be 7 1/2 months of continuous coverage,” NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said. “It’s a tremendous undertaking, to a level that’s never been done before.”
But what’s most viewer-friendly is this: For the first time, all Olympic events will be streamed live on the Internet (NBCOlympics.com). And much of the daytime coverage on NBC and the cable networks will be live. But NBC’s prime-time show will air on tape, because London is five hours ahead of U.S. East Coast time.
NBC decided that airing all the events live on the Internet, but saving most of the marquee ones to air on tape in prime time, would not diminish ratings.
“What we have found over the years is the more content we make available on the more platforms and the more accessible it is, the more interest there is in the Olympic prime time,” NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel said. “So we reached a conclusion we were going to make every event available online.”
NBC, airing its seventh consecutive Olympics, expects more than 200 million viewers over the 17 days but doesn’t anticipate turning a profit on its $1.18 billion rights fee.
• NBC: Its 272 1/2 hours will include a prime-time show from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. (longer on weekends); a late-night program (hosted by Mary Carillo, generally from midnight to 1 a.m.); and an expanded daytime show, which will start at 10 a.m. on weekdays and as early as 5 a.m. on weekends.
The prime-time show, hosted for a ninth time by Bob Costas, will focus, as usual, on gymnastics, swimming, diving, track and field and beach volleyball.
Daytime coverage will feature those sports and others, including basketball, with Al Michaels and Dan Patrick sharing host duties.
• NBCOlympics.com: All of the live broadcasts on NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo will be available on line, in addition to the world feed of all the live events not airing on any of the NBC networks. The Internet site also plans to carry the awarding of all 302 medals.
For the first time, there will be multiple concurrent streams for select sports, including gymnastics, track and field and tennis. At its peak, there will be 40 — 40! — simultaneous streams. Keep in mind that the online option will be available only to verified cable, satellite and telephone company customers.
The breadth of Internet coverage marks a shift for NBC, which sliced the number of live streams from 25 at the 2008 Beijing Games to two during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. But long-time former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol has left the network since the Vancouver Olympics, and the new Comcast management team seems more eager to embrace technology and live streaming.
Two apps — one focused on live streaming, the other on short-form highlights and schedules and results — will be available to mobile and tablet users.
• NBC Sports Network: The cable channel, previously known as “Versus” until Jan. 1, will offer 292 1/2 hours of coverage of U.S. team sports, generally from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m., which covers the live Olympic day in London. The most prominent of the network’s three hosts: former ESPN personality Michelle Beadle, who handles overnights and mornings.
• MSNBC: Will serve up 155 1/2 hours of long-form programming of 20 sports, including badminton, basketball, soccer and wrestling, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, longer on weekends. Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman anchors.
• CNBC: Will air 73 hours of boxing, including the debut of women’s boxing, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, with longtime Los Angeles sportscaster Fred Roggin anchoring.
• Bravo: Will carry 56 hours of tennis from early mornings to midafternoons. Pat O’Brien was taken out of mothballs to host.
• Extras: Many cable, satellite and telecommunications providers will provide two specialty channels (one for men’s and women’s basketball and another for soccer, totaling 770 hours), as well as 242 hours of general Olympic coverage in 3-D.
• Telemundo: Its 173 hours will focus primarily on boxing, swimming, basketball and soccer. Popular soccer announcer Andres Cantor anchors.
• Final note: NBCOlympics.com will list which sports are available on what channels, and NBC’s cable channels promise to run that information on a scroll.
LONDON (AP) — Security jitters were being felt across the British capital on the eve of the London Olympics, with the biggest mall in Europe briefly evacuated Thursday and noticeable security changes in place at the Olympic Park.
Prime Minister David Cameron (right) said, however, that he was confident that the games which Britain has worked to produce for years will be successful and safe.
"You can never provide a 100 percent guarantee but what I've seen, and what I've helped to coordinate is, I think, a fully joined-up effort that involves one of the best armed services anywhere in the world," Cameron told reporters Thursday. "I'm confident we can deliver on that, working with visiting delegations as well."
A fire alarm forced authorities to briefly clear the massive Westfield shopping mall (left) beside the Olympic Park on Thursday afternoon. Hundreds of people flooded into the street, a day before the opening ceremony Friday night at nearby Olympic Stadium.
Police allowed shoppers to return after a few minutes. Westfield mall authorities said the alarm was triggered in a restaurant area.
Fears of terrorism have been at the center of preparations for the London Olympics, and authorities have twice been forced to deploy more troops in the last two weeks — first an extra 3,500, then another 1,200 — when security arrangements fell short.
Britain's Ministry of Defense also scrambled a Typhoon fighter jet Wednesday after an airplane lost contact with air traffic controllers. Communications were quickly restored and no further action was required.
Britain's terror threat level is at substantial, which means a terror attack is a strong possibility. It is a notch below severe, the level Britain has been at for most of time since the 2005 suicide bombings when 52 people were killed in morning rush-hour attacks on London trains and buses.
One British security official told The Associated Press there was no existing intelligence to indicate the threat level would change immediately. Several terror suspects have been arrested in the last month but none have been accused of plotting directly against the games. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Dozens of FBI agents and other U.S. personnel are helping their British counterparts secure the games.
At some Olympic Park security entrances on Thursday, there was a noticeable shift from having military personnel man the airport-like security machines to having civilian security guards. At one entrance, an AP reporter put his bags through security but the scanning machine that checks Olympic credentials was broken and the staff waved him through.
The G4S security firm, responsible for the bulk of Olympic security, said Thursday it was getting hundreds more workers each day and hoped to replace some military personnel. Company spokesman Adam Mynott said many new workers had passed the accreditation process or completed training. The hope, he said, is to numerically replace the extra military personnel.
The security firm was lambasted earlier this month by the government for failing to provide enough security personnel for the games.
Mynott said he would look into why the AP reporter's credential wasn't scanned but said the changes Thursday were routine station changes between civilian and military guards.
Cameron has promised to go after G4S if they don't fulfill their contract and to make sure the company helps pay for the cost of the additional military personnel. The firm expects to lose between 35 million and 50 million pounds ($54 million-$78 million) on its Olympic contract, equal to about 12 percent of its annual profit.
Still, both London residents and some visitors were on edge.
"It's sunny and I think a lot of people are really excited about the Olympics but there's also this sense of dread that something will happen," said Tally Winfield, a 25-year-old London bartender.
One American tourist said the extra security seemed a tad daunting.
"With the police all around and troops, you definitely feel like something could happen at any time," said Melissa Johnson, a 36-year-old tourist from Los Angeles. "I'm not sure if I feel safer or just more worried. Then again, at least there are fewer guns here, right?"
As the Equestrian analyst for Canada's CTV network I have been really enjoying your Olympic Blog.
It has been a great source of tidbits and useful information for my commentary. What a great job you have been doing!
I thought your readers might like to know that we have a Canadian app they can download as well for Equestrian content. If they go to CTVOlympics.ca/downloads they will be directed to iTunes and can download what they like.
Once again Kenny, great job on all of Phelpssports and good luck to all our athletes!
FOR IPHONE, IPAD AND ANDROID, CLICK BELOW
July 25, 2012
North Korean flag, left. South Korean flag, right
July 25 (Reuters) - North Korea's Olympic women's soccer team walked off the pitch before Wednesday's match against Colombia after the South Korea flag was incorrectly displayed on a giant screen at Glasgow's Hampden Park stadium.
The Group G game was delayed for over an hour after images of the North Korea players were displayed beside the South Korea flag and London Olympics organisers had to issue an apology.
"Today ahead of the women's football match at Hampden Park, the Republic of Korea flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea flag," organisers LOCOG said in a statement.
"Clearly that is a mistake, we will apologise to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again."
The game had been scheduled to kick off at 1845 GMT.
Hampden Park media manager Andy Mitchell told Reuters: "The South Korean flag was shown in the video package on the screen before the kickoff and the North Koreans were naturally very upset about that.
"We have made a full apology to the team and the North Korean NOC. A genuine mistake was made for which we apologise."
The two Koreas are divided by the world's most militarised border and remain technically at war after an armistice ended the Korean War in 1953
1908 Ralph Rose, Track & Field
1912 George V. Bonhag, Track & Field
1920 Patrick J. McDonald, Track & Field
1924 Patrick J. McDonald, Track & Field
1928 Lemuel (Bud) C. Houser, Track & Field
1932 F. Morgan Taylor, Track & Field
1936 Alfred A. Jochim, Gymnastics
1948 Ralph C. Craig, Yachting
1952 Norman C. Armitage, Fencing
1956 Norman C. Armitage, Fencing
Warren B. Wooford, Equestrian*
1960 Rafer L. Johnson, Track & Field
1964 William Parry O'Brien, Track & Field
1968 Janice Lee Romary, Fencing
1972 Olga Fikotova Connolly, Track & Field
1976 Gary W. Hall, Swimming
1980 U.S. did not attend
1984 Edward Burke, Track & Field
1988 Evelyn Ashford, Track & Field
1992 Francie Larrieu Smith, Track & Field
1996 Bruce Baumgartner, Wrestling
2000 Cliff Meidl, Canoe/Kayak
2004 Dawn Staley, Basketball
2008 Lopez Lomong, Track & Field
2012 Mariel Zagunis, Fencing
*Due to Australia's immigration laws for horses, the 1956 equestrian events were held in Stockholm, Sweden.
•July 31—First Horse Inspection—17:30 - 19:00 GMT
•Aug. 2—Grand Prix (Individual/First Team Qualifier)—11:00 - 15:30 GMT
•Aug. 3—Grand Prix (Individual/First Team Qualifier)—11:00 - 15:30 GMT
•Aug. 7—Grand Prix Special (Second Individual Qualifier/Team Final)—10:00 - 16:25 GMT
•Aug. 9—Grand Prix Freestyle (Individual Final)—12:30 - 16:00 GMT
•July 27—First Horse Inspection—11:00 - 13:00 GMT
•July 28—Dressage (Individual/Team)—10:00 - 16:45 GMT
•July 29—Dressage (Individual/Team)—10:00 - 16:45 GMT
•July 30—Cross Country (Individual/Team)—12:30 - 17:40 GMT
•July 31—Second Horse Inspection—8:15 - 09:30 GMT
•July 31—Jumping (Team Final/Individual Qualifier)—10:30 - 13:10 GMT
•July 31—Jumping (Individual Final)—14:30 - 15:35 GMT
•Aug. 2—First Horse Inspection—17:00 - 19:00 GMT
•Aug. 4—First Qualifier—10:30 - 14:05 GMT
•Aug. 5—Second Individual Qualifier/First Team Round—11:00 - 14:15 GMT
•Aug. 6—Third Individual Qualifier/Team Final—14:00 - 16:45 GMT
•Aug. 8—Second Horse Inspection—9:30 - 10:15 GMT
•Aug. 8—Individual Round A—12:00 - 13:30 GMT
•Aug. 8—Individual Round B (Final)—14:45 - 16:05 GMT
Many of the Olympic venues are rich in historical significance, and Greenwich Park is no exception. Greenwich Park will be used for equestrian events, including eventing, dressage and jumping. The equestrian portion of modern pentathlon also is scheduled to be held in the venue. In total, the venue will be used for four events.
Here's a bit more about the equestrian venue of Greenwich Park:
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Greenwich Park is the oldest royal park in London. The park was constructed in 1433, and it is situated in such a way that the Prime Meridian line runs through it. Greenwich Park is about 183 acres in size.
LOCATION: Greenwich Park is located about 20 minutes from central London, according to the London 2012 website. The park is located in front of the Queen's House, and the venues will be built inside the grounds of the National Maritime Arena. From the venue, St. Paul's Cathedral and the River Thames can be seen.
CONSTRUCTION: The equestrian venue at Greenwich Park is a temporary space, and construction did not begin on the venue until April of 2012. The eventing venue is made up on a platform comprised of plywood, aluminum, steel and more than 2,000 pillars, according to the London2012.com website. About 8,500 tons of sand was used to construct the courses.
SEATING: The Greenwich Park arena is expected to seat about 23,000 people.
SPECIFICATIONS OF THE CROSS-COUNTRY COURSE: The cross-country course is about 5.7 kilometers long and includes water obstacles, slopes, hills and 42 jumps. Competitors have not had an opportunity to practice on this course beforehand, according to royalparks.org.uk.
POST-OLYMPIC VENUE USE: The equestrian venue at Greenwich Park is temporary. After the Olympic Games, the venue will be disassembled and the park will be returned to it's previous state.
HEAR FROM THE ATHLETES: American Karen O'Connor has been to four previous Olympic Games, and she's heading to London to compete in her fifth Olympic eventing competition. She's had a few opportunities to practice on the eventing course, she said.
"The terrain is very severe, and it's a very small venue for our sport," O'Connor said during a teleconference in July. "I think that could be a real advantage for the United States because we do compete at a lot of severe terrain because it is such a vast country."
London 2012 and Atos, the Worldwide IT Partner for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, during the unveiling of the Technology Operations Centre, the mission control for all 94 Olympic competition and non-competition venues.
The Technology Operations Centre monitors and controls the IT systems that deliver the results from all the Olympic and Paralympic sports competitions to the world's media in real time.
For the London 2012 Games, Atos expects to process 30% more results data than in Beijing ensuring the world's media meets the increasing demand of fans for information as it happens.
With 8.5 billion PCs, smart phones and tablets predicted to be connected to the internet, London is set to be the biggest smart Games ever.
One of the technology improvements for the London 2012 Games is that, for the first time ever in the Summer Games, all 26 Olympic sports and 5 of the Paralympic sports have been added to the Commentator Information System (CIS). Managed, centrally from the Technology Operations Centre, the Commentator Information System provides commentators and journalists with touch-screen technology that gives results in real time, so quick that they can see the results before they hear the roar of the crowd.
It is also the first time broadcasters will have access both in London and their home countries to the system for all Olympic and 5 Paralympic sports.
During Games time, the Technology Operations Centre will operate at full capacity with about 450 business technologists covering 180 positions, to manage and monitor 24/7 the technology infrastructure and systems including IT security, telecommunications, power and the results systems. It will be staffed by a combined team comprising the London 2012 Technology team, Atos and the other technology partners.
During the 79 days of test event competition, the London 2012 technology team, Atos and all the technology partners set up and took down almost 180 servers, over 1160 PCs and laptops, 190 network and security devices and more than 400 printers and copiers. In terms of technology, the events went well. The electronic access control system, fully integrated with the accreditation system was tested during the first phase of the London Prepares Series. It checks real time that the person is accessing space where he/she is authorized.
Todd Gralla is about to make the journey to London for the Olympic Games. He's worked toward this moment for three years, conquering every challenge put in his way and pushing the limits of what men have done before.
No, Gralla is not an athlete. He's a facility designer.
Gralla, who works for the architectural firm Populous, helped design the Olympic equestrian stadium in London. He's part of a two-man team with Charlie Kolarik in the firm's Norman office.
It's not the biggest facility the Norman horse farm owner has ever worked on — he said it pales in comparison to the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds — but it's still breaking records.
The 26,000-seat stadium, built in London's Greenwich Park, holds more people than any equestrian facility in the history of the modern Olympic Games, Gralla said.
The stadium is also the first 100 percent temporary Olympic equestrian facility, he said.
No white elephants
Because Greenwich Park is a royal park, Kansas City, Mo.-based Populous had to design a stadium that could not only be taken down after the games, but that would leave no mark on the historic grounds.
Gralla said Populous, which designed several London Olympic facilities, made an effort to keep this year's Games from being a burden to its host city. The firm didn't want to leave behind huge arenas that would be expensive to maintain and impossible to fill.
“We don't want white elephants left in London,” Gralla said.
Designing a zero-impact stadium was an architectural challenge, he said. The ground at Greenwich Park is not level, and Populous would not be allowed to level it for the Olympic Games.
To create the perfectly level field required for the equestrian events, the firm designed a flat platform to stand a few feet off the ground.
The platform had to be stable enough to withstand not only London's frequent rain, but also the shock of a 1,500-pound horse landing a two-meter jump. Gralla said some of the designers were worried at first.
“But it's so secure that there weren't any problems with it,” he said.
Adapting the stadium to fit Greenwich Park's needs was challenging, but worthwhile, Gralla said. The park is within the city, which means Londoners who rely on public transportation can easily travel to it.
Plus, the park is just south of the Queen's House, commissioned by Anne of Denmark in the 17th century and now used as a museum. The stadium is open on that side to give the audience a view.
“It's a spectacular setting,” Gralla said.
A decade of work
When Gralla travels this weekend to London to make sure the equestrian facility is holding up the way it should, it will be the culmination of nearly a decade of Populous involvement with the 2012 Olympic Games.
Populous, which has a substantial London office, helped the city obtain a bid from the International Olympic Committee in 2003. The firm has worked steadily since then to design several Olympic and Paralympic venues, including upgrades to Wembley Stadium and Wimbledon.
Populous also designed the main Olympic Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies and the track and field events.
The equestrian stadium took five months to construct, and it will come down within 60 days of the closing ceremonies, Gralla said. Despite the fact that his work won't be a permanent fixture in London, Gralla said he's honored to be part of an international phenomenon.
Gralla said he's impressed by how many people in Oklahoma City are affected by the London Games — from local athletes who see their dreams come to fruition to the Norman designers who do the same.
“I think it's pretty amazing the impact the Olympics has,” Gralla said.
July 24, 2012
Heading into the Team GB stables at Greenwich Park
The first horses have arrived at Greenwich Park, setting for the Olympic equestrian events at London 2012.
The equine athletes’ trunks of equipment must undergo the equivalent of the airport-style “mag and bag” checks done on every person attending the Olympic Games. This has been done for the first 75 of 219 Olympic horses that have been through the specially constructed Equine Staging Facility (ESF) at Greenwich University over the past two days and all are now settled into their temporary new home by this evening.
The equine athletes have to undergo an even stricter screening process than the one that the human athletes go through before entering Olympic venues. On arrival at the ESF, horses are unloaded from their transport trucks and taken to temporary stabling, where an initial health check is carried out by a veterinary team to make sure that the horses have no signs of infectious disease or injury. This is standard bio-security procedure at all international events, and is the first layer of protection for the competition horses, and for the event itself.
Simultaneously, the horse transport trucks are checked inside and out using sniffer dogs. The sniffer dogs are also used to check the cargo. The cargo is then unloaded and scanned before being loaded onto separate trucks for delivery direct to the stables, with the grooms’ luggage also being delivered straight to their on-site accommodation.
The truck driver and passengers go through the normal screening processes, and they are allowed two pieces of hand baggage per person, all of which has to be scanned. Once the interior of the horse transporter has been screened, which takes around 20 minutes, the horses are reloaded, and the ramps and doors are then security sealed with tape from the outside. This is just a security measure, and the ramp and the doors can be opened in an emergency.
Then it’s off to the Olympic stables built at Greenwich Park, with an escort vehicle leading the way through the London traffic on a designated Olympic lane. After a short eight-kilometre journey, the horses arrive on Greenwich Park and are unloaded straight into their stables.
Once in their new homes, the horses then have a more complete health check which is carried out by the FEI Veterinary Commission, when the horses’ passports – yes horses do have passports – are checked to see that the horse’s markings match its passport. There are no photographs in equine passports, just a standard line drawing on which the horse’s unique identifying features, such as white marks, are noted. The passport also gives an up-to-date listing of all vaccinations administered to the horse.
Over the next couple of weeks, horses from 40 countries on six continents will be staying in Greenwich Park for the Olympic equestrian events, with 54 coming in for the Dressage and 90 for the Jumping after the Eventing horses have finished their competition. Busiest day of all will be 1 August when no fewer than 39 lorries and 88 horses will go through the ESF en route to Greenwich. And a further 78 horses will be on site during the Paralympic Games.
The stables, which are the equine equivalent of the Athletes Village in the Olympic Park, are all raised off the ground to protect the Greenwich Park grassland. There are 200 stable units in total, each one measuring 3.5x4 metres. There are also wash boxes, so the horses can have a shower after exercise or post-competition. And, if there’s a need for any veterinary assistance, there is a purpose-built 24-hour Veterinary Clinic on site.
A world-class team of equine veterinary experts is in place at London 2012 to safeguard horse health and provide the best possible care and attention to the equine athletes during the Games. As well as the London 2012 Veterinary Services team, the horses competing at Greenwich Park will be accompanied throughout the Games by their own personal and team veterinarians. It is not over-stating it to say that the horses are probably the most pampered athletes in the entire Games!
Jennifer Bryant - The Guardian
Ann and Mitt Romney
The New York Times called it a "rarefied sport." The Los Angeles Times referred to its "pricey private world". It was even skewered in a recent political TV ad (since pulled from the airwaves) by the US Democratic National Committee.
The sport that's receiving so much attention in the United States is dressage, one of the three Olympic equestrian sports. It is ironic, considering that, until a few months ago, dressage was about as well known in the States as curling (sorry, Brits).
The reason for all this scrutiny is twofold. Make that threefold, now that the 2012 London Olympic Games are upon us.
First, Ann Romney (congratulating Adrienne Lyle at Gladstone), wife of almost-official Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is herself an amateur dressage rider. Back when Mitt Romney was merely a fabulously wealthy businessman and the governor of Massachusetts, Ann Romney was profiled in some flattering articles in which she described how the coordination and core strength required in dressage help to keep her multiple sclerosis symptoms in check. She was diagnosed with MS, an incurable auto-immune disease that can lead to muscle weakness and a host of other neurological symptoms, in 1998.
Second, now that her husband is vying for the presidency, the feel-good side of the Romneys' dressage story has taken a back seat to the political liabilities.
Already accused by opponents of being out of touch with the economic concerns of the average American voter, Mitt Romney has attracted even more criticism for his wife's involvement in (and claimed business deductions pertaining thereto) a sport in which top horses routinely sell for six or even seven figures.
Because – you guessed it – Ann Romney is an owner of one of said top horses.
That would be Rafalca (right), a 15-year-old bay Oldenburg mare co-owned by her and Amy Ebeling, and trained and ridden by Ebeling's husband, Jan Ebeling, 53, of Moorpark, California.
The final piece of this perfect storm is the fact that Rafalca and Jan Ebeling are on the 2012 US Olympic dressage team.
The result: For better or for worse, dressage is now a household word in America. The US dressage community, mostly just happy to garner any attention at all, has made the most of it. They were particularly tickled when the popular Comedy Central TV personality Stephen Colbert devoted part of a June episode of his "Colbert Report" to a send-up of Mitt Romney and dressage. The newly proclaimed dressage enthusiast outfitted himself with a trucker cap, a red foam finger, and a beer as the stereotypical blue-collar American sports fan Romney would love to connect with.
The Colbert segment aired just days before the 2012 US Olympic dressage selection trials. Capitalising on the timing, the United States Equestrian Federation swiftly procured "Dressage Is #1" red foam fingers and cases of beer and filmed a video response for Colbert (featuring Rafalca, of course) at the conclusion of the competition.
All of this might have you wondering what dressage is, anyway. Here goes: dressage is the systematic gymnastic development of the horse, comparable to the years of training that go into creating a ballet dancer. The most famous dressage horses are the Lipizzan stallions of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, who for centuries have practised precise movements that go back to ancient Greek times and that once were the pastime of France's Louis XIV and other noblemen of the era. The white stallions are best known for their thrilling "airs above the ground", a series of leaps and kicks originally developed as battle strategies for cavalry mounts.
Dressage as modern competitive sport is a hybrid of its classical and cavalry roots. It started as a part of the military, a three-phase test of cavalry horses that's now known as eventing, another Olympic equestrian sport. Eventually dressage (like jumping, the third Olympic equestrian sport) became a standalone sport of its own, testing horses' obedience, gaits and gymnastic ability. Competitors ride dressage "tests" (prescribed patterns), which are judged on a scale from zero-to-10. The crowd favourite, introduced into Olympic competition in Atlanta 1996, is the freestyle, a ride to music and choreography of competitors' choosing, à la the free skate in figure skating.
So when you watch Rafalca and Jan Ebeling dance in Greenwich Park, you'll be seeing the unlikely intersection of equestrian sport and the American political circus. For his part, Ebeling doesn't care: like all elite athletes, he'll be too focused on his performance. After all, this will be the first Olympic Games for the German-born Ebeling, who has been knocking at the door for a long time. A protege of the late dressage master Herbert Rehbein, he emigrated to the US in 1984, went to work for the six-times US dressage Olympian Robert Dover and became a US citizen in 1998. He has made repeated trips to US national dressage championships with various mounts since that time; but it was Rafalca, purchased in 2006 for Ebeling to ride, who has propelled him on to the international dressage scene.
At the moment, Ann Romney, who plans to watch her horse compete in London – although Rafalca is not a favourite to win a medal – won't be giving politics much thought. At the Olympic selection trials, recognising kindred spirits, she gabbed happily with the equestrian journalists in attendance, spurning the advances only of he New York Times's political reporter.
Similarly, American dressage enthusiasts will be rooting for Rafalca, regardless of whether they're rooting for Mitt Romney.
July 23, 2012
Philipp Weishaupt and Monte Bellini
Germany, favourites for team gold in show jumping, have suffered as last-minute shake-up after debutant Philipp Weishaupt’s ride Monte Bellini succumbed to an infection.
Weishaupt was competing with other horses at Hickstead when he heard that Monte Bellini had been rushed to a veterinary clinic, with undisclosed symptoms, on Friday and will probably not be fit to travel to London.
He will be replaced by Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, 42, and Bella Donna. Five weeks ago Michaels-Beerbaum withdrew from team selection as Bella Donna lost form, but the same weekend the quartet was finalised, she finished third behind Michael Whitaker in the Aachen Grand Prix, prodding German selectors to reinstate Bella Donna as a reserve.
Michaels-Beerbaum is a three-time World Cup winner with 2008 Olympic ride Shutterfly, and has returned to top level after a year out to have her daughter, Brianne. She and 2012 team-mate Janne-Fredericke Meyer are the only women to have ever represented Germany in Olympic show jumping.
Meanwhile, her brother-in-law Ludger Beerbaum, 49, will have watch the Games on television having failed to make the German team after six successive Olympic appearances since 1988, during which he won four gold medals. He appeared to be in contention for London 2012 after winning the Rome Grand Prix in May, but then Gotha lost form.
Speaking at Hickstead yesterday, Beerbaum said. “I have digested the decision by now. The mare was not feeling secure, so there was no point. Today was my last chance to have got an accreditation to attend on foot, so now I shall have to stay at home.”
Sebastian Coe, the head of the London Olympic Committee, shown here at the security control room at Olympic Park in Stratford
Britain's biggest peacetime security operation geared up Monday for the start of the London 2012 Games just four days away, with soldiers in camouflage manning the airport-style gates at Olympic Park.
After a week of concerns following private security firm G4S's admission that it could not provide the 10,000 guards promised, troops and security staff were going through their final run-throughs before Friday's opening ceremony.
While the giant park in east London is surrounded by huge fences, with military and armed police on the perimeter, inside security was low-key and principally undertaken by civilians.
The Olympic Park's boundary is lined with concrete barricades topped with a high metal fence and several lines of electrified wire, with security cameras at regular intervals.
Soldiers from the Royal Artillery were scanning people in at the entrance by Stratford International station.
Besides their green camouflage combat fatigues, floppy berets and black boots, the troops are wearing a special purple velcro badge reading London 2012 and featuring the Games logo with a British flag design.
At the main Stratford entrance, marines, soldiers and air force personnel were on duty.
One soldier said the troops were settling in well at their barracks in Hainault, on the northeastern edge of London, with the food earning rave reviews.
Working in temporary white canvas tents, they seemed in jovial spirits.
"Take everything metal out of your pockets otherwise that guy will want to touch you," one Scottish soldier said, pointing to a colleague on the other side of a metal detector.
"To be honest, even if you do, he'll still want to touch you."
The park has a free hair and beauty salon and a string of soldiers have drifted through the doors for a buzz cut.
A security force of more than 40,000 military and civilian personnel, backed by a huge intelligence operation, is being deployed to protect venues, athletes and millions of visitors.
Some 17,000 troops are being deployed on "Operation Olympics" -- of which 3,500 were drafted in at late notice to replace the G4S shortfall.
Around 11,800 of them are from the army, with 2,600-odd each from the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force (RAF).
The £553-million ($857-million, 710-million-euro) operation is on alert for a range of scenarios, from "lone wolf" terror strikes to cyber-attacks, riots, protests, transport breakdowns and even extreme weather.
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said Monday he was "very confident" that security will be "very, very good".
"What I am interested in, 'is the security arrangement OK?' -- and it is OK. The end result is satisfactory," he told BBC radio.
Anne Wells, 54, who works for UK Border Agency and came to collect her ticket for the gymnastics on Saturday, backed the reliance on the military.
"We should be using people that are well-trained and not people coming from a private agency. It looks better for the image of London," she told AFP.
Regular British police are unarmed but two armed officers were patrolling outside the giant Westfield shopping centre on the edge of the Olympic site, with machine guns and sidearms.
They were happy to pose for pictures with a string of Asian tourists.
At peak times, some 11,000 troops will be performing security duties at the Olympic venues in London and beyond.
Some units and individuals who returned from operations in Afghanistan earlier this year are involved.
A further 1,200 troops are on 48 hours' notice at their regular bases.
The RAF is prepared to use "lethal force" against aircraft which flout the airspace restrictions.
Typhoon jets and Puma helicopters with snipers will be patrolling the zone and intercepting any aircraft which should not be inside it.
Meanwhile HMS Ocean, Britain's biggest warship, is stationed on the River Thames, and missiles have been deployed around east London, including on the roof of a block of flats.
Security has been a fundamental issue for the London Games from the start.
The day after the British capital was named host city on July 6, 2005, four homegrown suicide bombers attacked three Underground trains and a bus, killing 52 people.
The London 2012 summer Olympics are on course to be the most over-budget games for 16 years after organizers failed to forecast demands for security and private investment, according to a study by the University of Oxford.
The sports-related expense of hosting in the British capital is likely to cost more than twice the original estimate, researchers from the university’s Said Business School said in a paper. That’s the most since the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta, when costs overran by 147 percent.
“The Olympics overrun with a 100 percent consistency,” Bent Flyvbjerg, who co-authored the research, said in an interview. “You reach a point of no return seven years before the games where you commit to delivering and writing this blank check. You can’t trade off time with money in the Olympics.”
London beat Paris and New York to host the games, which begin July 27. The U.K. government tripled its first budget to 9.3 billion pounds ($14.5 billion) after failing to get companies to finance and develop the main site. The security budget doubled to 553 million pounds last year as a review found that an original estimate of 10,000 guards was short by nearly 14,000 people.
Adrian Bassett, a spokesman for the organizers of the London games, didn’t comment on the study.
Overruns are typical for large projects like the Olympics and occur when the host “strategically lowballs” the true cost of the event or is overoptimistic of the benefits, according to Flyvbjerg, who’s a professor of major program management at the business school.
“In order to get approval for something you make it look good on paper and you do that by estimating the cost low and estimating the benefits of the revenues high,” he said by telephone. “If you are too optimistic, again, that will result in the same pattern and will bias the data.”
The summer games were expected to cost around 8.4 billion pounds compared with 4.2 billion pounds when London bid for the games in 2005, the university said. Beijing’s 2008 Olympics were 4 percent over-budget, while costs in Athens four years earlier were exceeded by 60 percent.
The average cost overrun of the Olympic Games is 179 percent, according to the sample of 17 previous summer and winter events examined by Oxford’s Said Business School.
“Any country that bids for the games probably goes into it, though they wouldn’t admit it, knowing that there’s very little likelihood of it ultimately proving to be cost effective or value for money,” said Alan Seymour, a professor of sports marketing at the University of Northampton.
In three days, equestrian Rich Fellers and his Irish Sporthorse, Flexible, will begin their journey to their first Olympic Games.
And despite the mounting excitement surrounding the world's biggest sporting stage, Fellers is approaching this competition much like he would any other. The 52-year-old equestrian says it's something he's learned in his long career as a show jumper.
"If I was 25 years old, I probably would be pretty hyped up," Fellers said. "I would be thinking this is the absolute biggest thing I've ever done and the most important thing in the world, but I've been in this a long time. I've learned, with experience and mileage, that it's all about controlling the things you can control and not worrying about the things you can't control.
"It's a big deal mainly because we're riding together as a team and representing the United States of America. That makes it extra special."
Fellers lives in Sherwood and trains in Wilsonville. On Saturday, he will fly to Holland, where he will stay with the rest of the U.S. show jumping team for a week before the opening ceremonies on July 27. Later on Saturday, Flexible -- by now a seasoned flyer -- will be led onto a two-horse trailer and rolled into a cargo plane.
The U.S. equestrians will tune up before the Games at a farm, allowing the horses to adjust to the time change and weather. Then, they’ll head to London. Fellers' wife and two children will join him there, he said.
Fellers and Flexible secured their spot on the U.S. Olympic team in June after going undefeated in two Olympic trial events. The victories continued a winning streak that included the World Cup Finals, of which Fellers became the first American champion in 25 years.
The equestrian has competed with Flexible, owned by Harry and Mollie Chapman of Portland, since the 16-year-old horse was seven. Fellers has been riding for over 40 years.
The pair has had their share of success through the years, but it was in recent months that they really hit their stride.
"I've never been on a roll of winning in my career like I have with Flexible in the last few months," he said. "I'm just going to be doing exactly what I've always been doing, because it's working.”
It's finally time to reveal our list of best dressed American teams of the London Olympics. We had to disqualify beach volleyball, diving, swimming, and water polo for a tantalizing lack of fabric, but just know we're proud of everyone wearing the stars and stripes in 2012. Here are the picks:
Like most teams, BMX went with a bold "USA" across the front. Unlike most teams, they put an eagle preparing to attack just above the letters. They're just begging their competitors to come get some. Possibly the whole thing. These grey and blue kits are a fantastic, aggressive throwback to the 1970s.
When you take in the whole outfit - helmet, gloves, riding boots, crop - they're probably America's best dressed team. But they're wearing blazers and that's kind of cheating. Imagine how well dressed the basketball team would be in blazers. On top of that they're riding a beautiful and majestic animal. It all just screams cheating.
We're actually big fans of the "candy striper" kits, even if we prefer the all-white "nurses uniforms" they wore in the World Cup. Next up: surgeons? The only thing we hate is the empty white space around the numbers. Also, the numbers themselves, which are silver for no reason. Stick to red, white, and blue, girls.
Congratulations for being the only American team to pull off an all-red uniform. They picked the perfect shade and kept it going head-to-toe. We don't know what's going on with the accents down the side, but we love these things regardless. We're even cool with the cheesy screen printed flag inside the "USA" patch.
The right side of this uniforms makes us want to start chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" The left side? Not so much. Sure we wanted blue, but we got way too much blue. And what's with the shooting stars design? Ugh. We hope you girls bring better balance to the beam than you did to these uniforms. Zing!
These are the perfect example of simple, clean uniforms. Sharp lines and a sharp logo. Just awesome. We only wish the wealthiest Olympians (by far) would have taken the names off the back to prove the initials on the front mean more. Still, we’ll root for any athlete wearing these (save LeBron James).
You’re just not going to convince us there’s a better-dressed team. Their retro kits, reminiscent of the 1984 team, are brazenly American and the triple-outlined “USA” pops right off the chest. Also, they're made of performance enhancing fabrics. We don’t know what that means, but it sounds awesome.
You know what you did!
Madrid is pressing on with its third successive bid to host the Olympic Games even though more and more Spaniards are questioning the multi-million-euro expense as an economic crisis shrinks budgets for hospitals and schools.
Europe has pledged up to 100 billion euros in aid for Spain's ailing banks and the euro zone debt crisis threatens to push the country to needing a full-blown bailout. Economic woes already prompted Rome to cancel its 2020 Olympic bid.
"The country isn't up for anything at the moment, we're about to rescue our banks, we're on the verge of a full bailout. It seems to me highly irresponsible that politicians are still caught up in this madness," said Diego Casado, who writes for popular blog Madrid Me Mata (Madrid Kills Me), outspoken in its opposition to the Games.
The Madrid 2020 Candidacy Committee argues that the Games could kick-start the economy by creating between 300,000 and 350,000 jobs, in a country where almost one in four is unemployed.
Various groups, including Spain's Indignados, whose sit-ins in squares last year helped to inspire the worldwide "Occupy" protest movement, say they are opposed to the Olympics. While few formal protests have taken place, critics expect these to increase as spending cuts bite and the Games bid progresses.
Madrid has yet to put a figure on how much hosting the Olympics would cost Spain, but it is expected to be lower than the projected 9 billion pounds of public money London will spend on this summer's Olympics, and the record $42 billion China spent on the 2008 Beijing Games.
Small opposition party Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), has submitted a bill to Madrid's assembly proposing the city take back its bid.
"We think that with the economic situation in Spain as it is at the moment and likely will be in the future - because we think this crisis is going to last a long time - this is not the most appropriate time for the Olympics," UPyD spokesman Luis de Velasco said.
"Resources are always limited and if put resources into the Olympics, there are other things that you can't do."
Spain has said it will make around 45 billion euros of public sector cuts in 2012.
In Madrid alone, the government has promised to save over a million euros this year by slashing its budget for public festivities by more than 60 percent.
The city ended 2011 with more than 6 billion euros of debt.
Critics of the Madrid bid point to twice bailed out euro zone member Greece, which hosted the 2004 Olympics in Athens at a cost of 15 billion dollars.
One Indignados group said it might take future action against the Olympics.
"If we compare the forecasts for (the benefits from) previous big events with the actual results, we find that it's nothing more than Chinese whispers," the Indignados said in a report after discussing the Games at an assembly in Madrid's centre point Puerta del Sol.
"The Olympics facilitate a model of economic growth that is not what Spain needs. It's the 'beach bar' growth model - let's throw up a beach bar and make some money ... When the Olympics are over, there won't be anything left," said blogger Casado.
But Ferran Brunet Cid, an economics professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, which hosts the Olympic Studies Centre, said the bid was a worthwhile long-term investment for Madrid.
Even if the city does not host the 2020 Games, it would benefit from an increased presence on the world stage that a bid brings, he said.
"You have to do things well, excellently, and that's what we're missing (in Spain) to be competitive. You have to be excellent ... The Games also help with that," he said.
Barcelona's 1992 Games turned it from an industrial city to a European tourist magnet, and Madrid with its numerous art galleries and attractions could benefit even more than its Catalan counterpart.
Juan Garcia, of Ecologists In Action, said Madrid was failing to maintain sports facilities for the public at present and that he was unconvinced by the jobs argument.
"They've said that the infrastructure for the 2020 Games is already built, so no jobs will be created for that."
Organisers say more than 80 percent of sports venues and 90 percent of the necessary infrastructure, including hotels and transport, already exist, meaning: "the investment budget of public bodies for the Games will be the lowest in recent history".
Brunet Cid said a well-organised Games could create 20,000 to 30,000 permanent jobs.
Organisers say more than 80 percent of the Spanish population support the Games and 75 percent of Madrid residents, meaning the city has more public backing than its two rivals for the 2020 Games, Istanbul and Tokyo.
"Young people see the Games as opportunity for development and progress in these difficult economic times," the committee told Reuters.
"Because of this we don't think the economic situation will decrease support, but rather the opposite will happen."
In its Working Group report, however, the International Olympic Committee said: "careful attention would need to be paid to Spain's economic outlook," although it rated the city's application as "strong".
Brunet Cid pointed out Madrid's financial situation today was "much, much better" than Barcelona's in the 1980s, when the coastal city bid for the Games.
"This is not the end of the world ... Madrid is not the Titanic."
Since equestrian sport was first officially embraced by the Olympic movement a century ago, Jumping has always been the largest and most popular discipline, and the historical records tell of wonderful horse-and-rider partnerships whose names will never be forgotten. Golden heroes like Germany’s Hans Günter Winkler, Italy’s Raimondo d’Inzeo and Graziano Mancinelli, Pierre Jonqueres d’Oriola from France and America’s Bill Steinkraus are the stuff of legend, their names forever forged into the annals of their sport.
At the Beijing 2008 Olympic equestrian events in Hong Kong four years ago, the Canadians broke new ground as Eric Lamaze and the late, great stallion Hickstead helped earn the first-ever individual title for their country. It was an epic battle in which Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson had to settle for silver with Ninja, while America’s Beezie Madden and Authentic took the bronze. All three of these riders will be in action once again at London 2012 where the Americans will be vying for a hat-trick of team titles. If they succeed, they will join Germany as the only other nation to clinch gold at three successive Olympic Games.
Canada's Ian Millar will be setting a new Olympic record across all sports when lining out in his 10th Games at London 2012
For one man however, the 30th Olympiad has another significance entirely. At the age of 65, and still at the top of his game, Ian Millar, the man affectionately known as “Captain Canada”, will be lining out for the 10th time – an extraordinary achievement by any measure and a record across all Olympic sports. Joining Lamaze, Jill Henselwood and Tiffany Foster, he will be aiming to make it another one to remember for the Canadian side.
With 15 countries in action it’s going to be a super-tough contest however, and the result is harder than ever to predict. New nations have emerged to take their place at the top end of the sport in recent years. And they have done so with one major target in mind – Olympic glory. The Ukraine, currently leading the FEI Nations Cup™ Promotional League series, has become a force to be reckoned with, while Saudi Arabian riders flexed their muscles at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky (USA) in 2010 when finishing eighth in the team event before Abdullah Al Sharbatly went on to claim individual silver.
The Belgians have a rather longer history at Olympic level, taking their first individual medal at Stockholm in 1912 when Emmanuel de Blommaert and Clonmore claimed bronze, and their first team medal at Antwerp in 1920 when second to Sweden. According to Chef d’Equipe Philippe Guerdat, the Belgians took themselves by surprise when snatching team bronze in Kentucky two years ago, where Philippe Lejeune (left) also came out to give a master-class in horsemanship and claimed the individual world title. Any side with a man of his calibre joined by accomplished veterans Jos Lansink and Dirk Demeersman and the talented Gregory Wathelet cannot be overlooked. But the team Jumping event in London really is a wide-open affair.
The French were inconsistent in the early stages of this season’s FEI Nations Cup™ series, but Penelope Leprevost produced a pivotal double-clear with Mylord Carthago to help clinch victory at the fifth round on the hallowed turf of Aachen (GER) two weeks ago and the French went into a thrilling third-round jump-off in Falsterbo (SWE) last Friday. As their Chef d’Equipe Henk Nooren said that day, they are finding form at just the right time, and both Leprevost and 2009 individual European champion Kevin Staut are hot contenders for individual Olympic honours.
The Netherlands’ side looks really competitive, and Gerco Schroder will be keen to show why he named his horse London. He will also be determined to put the deep disappointment of last year’s FEI European Championship behind him. He so nearly had the individual gold medal in his hand, but it slipped from his grasp in the very last round.
Instead it went to Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (right) who has been on a roll ever since and has been world number one in the Rolex Rankings since the start of the year. And the Swedish victory on home turf last Friday has put them in just the right frame of mind. Jens Fredricson clinched it in the jump-off with a polished performance from his horse, Lunatic, who showed no sign of living up to his name.
The Swiss team is full of talent, and Paul Estermann, Steve Guerdat, Werner Muff and Pius Schwizer will be coming out with all guns blazing, but it’s difficult to look past the Germans and Americans. Things didn’t quite go to plan for several of the leading German team candidates, but with such a deep pool of gifted horses and riders to choose from the line-up still looks absolutely formidable – Christian Ahlmann, Marcus Ehning, Janne Frederike Meyer and Philipp Weishaupt will be tough nuts to crack. Germany leads the individual medal table with five golds to their credit, the last taken by Ulrich Kirchhoff at Atlanta (USA) in 1996, and any of this German side could be in contention on that final afternoon.
And the Americans pose a huge threat. At 18 years of age, Reed Kessler is a full 35 years younger than team-mate Rich Fellers as both make their Olympic debut, but she earned her stripes with superb performances in the US Trials. Fellers has been a hot favourite for the team since securing America’s first victory in 25 years at the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final at ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in April with the aptly-named stallion, Flexible. McLain Ward bounced back from a serious knee injury sustained in January to get the call-up along with Beijing individual bronze medallist Beezie Madden, and both Ward and Madden were on the gold medal team four years ago.
For all their strength however, they may all watch out for the British. On home soil their determination will be second to none, even though gold has eluded them on all but one occasion – and you have to go a long way back for that to 1952 in Helsinki where Wilfred White (Nizefela), Douglas Stewart (Aherlow) and Harry Llewellyn (Foxhunter) claimed the team title. Scott Brash, Peter Charles, Ben Maher and Nick Skelton will be trying to bridge that 50-year gap, and with Skelton, who was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's birthday honours list last month, showing the form of his life, anything is possible. Marion Coakes and the pony Stroller took individual silver in Mexico in 1968, Ann Moore and Psalm followed suit four years later in Munich and the team took silver at Los Angeles in 1984. Another British gold medal is long overdue – and London would be the perfect place to win it.
Great Britain's Nick Skelton and Big Star
The horses will be first inspected on 2 August and checked over again the following day when a training session also takes place. The first individual competition, on 4 August, serves as a qualifier for the individual competition and decides the starting order for the team event. It is a one-round Table A, not against the clock, and the scores of the best three from each team are added together. If there is an equality of penalties between teams, then the teams retain the same starting place as in the first Competition. There are 12 fences varying from 1.40m to 1.50 in height, with at least two standing at 1.60m, and it is not compulsory to include a water jump. A maximum of four horse/rider combinations per nation are permitted to compete in this class. The starting places are decided by a draw held in the presence of the Ground Jury, which consists of Stephan Ellenbruch (GER), President, and members Freddy Smeets (BEL), Jon Doney (GBR) and Kim Morrison (CAN), Foreign Technical Delegate Frank Rothenberger (GER) and the Chefs d’Equipe. Individuals are drawn first, followed by a draw for the teams.
The team competition runs over two days, 5 and 6 August, and also embraces the second and third individual qualifying competitions. All teams start on a zero score in the first round of the team event. There are different courses each day, with up to 13 fences, including a double and one treble or three doubles, and spreads up to 2m, or 2.20m for a triple bar. Two verticals standing at 1.60m will be included, along with an open water up to 4.5m wide. The best three scores on each team decide the result.
If, after two rounds, there is an equality of faults for first, second or third place, there will be a jump-off against the clock with all team members competing. Jump-off courses consist of at least six obstacles including a combination, and the result will be decided by combining the three best scores from each team, with time as the deciding factor if there is still a tie. The result of the jump-off determines the final placings of teams but does not count toward qualification for the final individual competition.
The individual final, which will take place on 8 August, will run over two rounds. The top 35 riders qualify, and no more than three from each nation are permitted to take part. All riders start the final day on a zero score. The top 20 go through to the second round, including ties for 20th place, and riders compete in reverse order of merit based on their penalties from the first round. If there is a jump-off then the starting order remains the same as it was in the second round.
11 countries represented by individuals only
Germany's Hans Günter Winkler holds the record for most Olympic Jumping medals – he claimed 7 during his long and illustrious career, three of those with the great mare, Halla.
America's Beezie Madden and Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa hold the greatest number of Olympic Jumping medals coming to the London 2012 Games – 3 in total. Madden took team gold at Athens in 2004, and team gold and Individual bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympic equestrian events in Hong Kong – each time partnering Authentic. Pessoa took team bronze at Atlanta in 1996, riding Tomboy, and with the great stallion Baloubet du Rouet, claimed another team bronze at Sydney 2000 and individual gold at Athens in 2004.
Canada's Ian Millar, already leading the list of equestrian competitors with most appearances at the Olympic Games with 9 to date, brings that number to 10 when lining out with Star Power this time around.
Millar celebrated his 65th birthday in January, and is the oldest rider competing in Jumping but is not the most senior competitor at the equestrian events at London 2012. That distinction goes to 71-year-old Hiroshi Hoketsu from Japan who will compete as an individual in Dressage.
Jumping at the Olympic Games goes back to 1900 when Alme Haegeman from Belgium took the individual title with Benton II in Paris.
Mexican riders dominated in Jumping at the London Olympic Games in 1948. The Mexican team took gold, Humberto Mariles (Arete) claimed the individual title and Ruben Uriza (Harvey) took individual silver.
Germany leads the medal tables in Jumping, with 5 individual and 8 team titles since 1912.
Technical Delegate for Jumping at the Olympic Games is Germany's Frank Rothenberger, Venezuela’s Leopolodo Palacios is Venue Technical Advisor and Great Britain's Bob Ellis is course designer.
The Jumping Ground Jury consists of Stephan Ellenbruch (GER), President, and members Freddy Smeets (BEL), Jon Doney (GBR) and Kim Morrison (CAN).
Chief Steward is Hong Kong’s Nigel King, and his team of Jumping Stewards are America’s David Distler, Germany’s Stephan Hellwig, Sweden’s Maria Hernek and Frederick Reuterskiold, Ireland’s Kate Horgan, and Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge.
President of the Veterinary Commission is Dr Paul Farrington, and he is assisted by his British associate Dr Tim Randle and Germany’s Dr Willi Hanbuecken. Dr Kent Allen (USA) is Foreign Technical Delegate. The FEI MCP veterinary experts are Britain’s Colin Roberts and Sweden’s Peter Kallings, while the man in charge of Thermography Testing is Germany’s Gerit Matthesen.
The Appeal Committee is headed up by Israel’s Dr Ken Lalo with Norway’s Erik Elstad as Vice-President. The Jumping member of the Appeal Committee is Colombia’s Yolanda Matallana, Dressage member is Australia’s Mary Seefried and Eventing member is Michel Asseray from France. Jens Adolphsen from Germany is Chairman of the FEI Tribunal and Pierre Ketterer is FEI Tribunal member.
The FEI Medical Officer is Ireland’s Mary O’Flynn.
Julia Hargreaves (Vedor), James Paterson-Robinson (Lanosso), Edwina Tops-Alexander (Itot du Chateau), Matt Williams (Watch Me).
Dirk Demeersman (Bufero van het Panishof), Jos Lansink (Valentina van ‘T Heike), Philippe Lejeune (Vigo d’Arsouilles), Gregory Wathelet (Cadjanine Z).
Alvaro de Miranda Neto (Rahmannshof’s Bogeno), Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (Special), Rodrigo Pessoa (Rebozo), Jose Fernandez Filho (Maestro St Lois).
Tiffany Foster (Victor), Jill Henselwood (George), Eric Lamaze (Derly Chin de Muze), Ian Millar (Star Power).
Rodrigo Carrasco (Or De La Charboniere), Tomas Couve Correa (Underwraps), Carlos Morstadt (Talento), Samuel Parot (Al Calypso).
Simon Delestre (Napoli du Ry), Olivier Guillon (Lord de Theize), Penelope Leprevost (Mylord Carthago), Kevin Staut (Silvana).
Scott Brash (Hello Sanctos), Peter Charles (Vindicat), Ben Maher (Tripple X), Nick Skelton (Big Star).
Christian Ahlmann (Codex One), Marcus Ehning (Plot Blue), Janne Friederike Meyer (Lambrasco), Philipp Weishaupt (Monte Bellini).
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
Ramzy Al Duhami (Bayard van de Villa There), HRH Prince Abdullah Al Saud (Davos), Kamal Bahamdan (Delphi), Abdullah Al Sharbatly (Sultan).
Jaime Azcarraga (Gangster), Federico Fernandez (Victoria), Alberto Michan Halbinger (Rosalia La Silla), Nicolas Pizzaro (Crossing Jordan).
Marc Houtzager (Sterrehof’s Tamino), Gerco Schroder (London), Maikel van der Vleuten (Verdi), Jur Vrieling (Bubalu).
Paul Estermann (Castlefield Eclipse), Steve Guerdat (Nino des Buissonnets), Werner Muff (Kiamon), Pius Schwizer (Carlina).
Jens Fredricson (Lunatic), Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (Casall), Henrik von Eckermann (Coupe de Coeur, Fourth Rider as yet unconfirmed.
Bjorn Nagel (Niack de L’Abbaye), Katharina Offel (Vivant), Aleksandr Onischenko (Comte d’Arsouilles), Cassio Rivetti (Temple Road).
Rich Fellers (Flexible), Reed Kessler (Cylana), Beezie Madden (Via Volo), McLain Ward (Antares).
The Aslef rail union announced on Thursday that 450 of its members in central England would walk out between August 6 and 8 in a dispute over pensions, affecting passengers travelling from cities such as Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby to the capital.
The decision coincided with a move by border officials to strike on July 26, the day before the start of the Games, potentially delaying thousands of visitors arriving for the showpiece event.
The threat of transport chaos added to pressure on the government, which has already had to call in thousands of extra soldiers to guard the Games after a failed private sector recruitment drive left an embarrassing hole in security.
Even the wet weather has conspired to dampen spirits ahead of the sporting showcase, which has earned the nickname the "Soggy Olympics" in the British media.
Perhaps it was no coincidence that Police lyrics "sending out an SOS", from the song "Message in a Bottle", were blaring before the daily press conference at the Olympic Park in east London.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt rejected accusations that the build-up to the Games had been a shambles, arguing that for an operation of such a scale the preparations had in fact been remarkably smooth.
"Actually I think it has been a very smooth process," he told reporters, after a barrage of questions on issues ranging from security shortfalls to sanitation on the main Olympic site. "I think it has been an encouraging first week.
"I think it is very important that people understand that of course you are going to have a few hitches on a project of this scale, but actually things have gone pretty smoothly, and the athletes are getting a fantastic welcome in the village, and I think morale is very high."
On the issue of the danger of strike action causing disruptions, he added: "It would be completely out of tune with the mood of the British public. This is a moment when Britain wants to show its best face to the world, and that is what the vast majority of the public wants as well.
"I would strongly counsel any unions thinking of disrupting this very important period, I think they would lose huge amounts of public support if they really tried to do this."
Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking during a visit to Afghanistan, said of the planned action by passport officials: "I do not believe it would be justified.
The security glitch came after G4S said it could not provide a promised 10,400 security guards to staff Games venues, meaning the Defence Ministry had to call up an extra 3,500 troops to take the armed forces contribution to 17,000 personnel.
A further 2,000 troops may be required if security firm G4S fails to find a minimum requirement of 7,000 staff.
Hunt reiterated government assurances that the Games would be safe in a city where suicide bombers killed 52 people in attacks on the transport system in July 2005.
Further concerns could be raised by Wednesday's suicide bomb attack on a bus transporting Israeli tourists at Burgas airport in Bulgaria.
"Obviously we are monitoring the whole time what's happening with respect to the changing security situation, and we have extremely competent intelligence services who are giving us advice and we are responding to that on an ongoing basis," Hunt said when asked about the Burgas attack.
"The world can be absolutely certain that we will deliver a safe and secure Olympics. It has always been our number one priority."
With the Games eight days away, British media has focused heavily on the opening ceremony amid reports of tensions between Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle, who is overseeing the £27 million show, and the Olympic Broadcasting Services in charge of airing the Games.
According to the Guardian newspaper, quoting an unnamed source, the atmosphere between the two was "miserable" and rehearsals were behind.
The July 27 evening ceremony, to be watched by a global audience estimated at more than a billion people, has already been shortened to avoid a possible late-night rush for trains and buses home.
"I think I would expect there to be lots of negotiations going on behind the scenes, but I think the overall picture is very encouraging," Hunt said, explaining that he was not aware of the specific problems being reported.
"I think it is going to be a sensational opening ceremony. It will show the best of Britain - its history, its culture, our contribution to the world. But it will do it through the artistic vision of one our finest film directors."
The ceremony will feature more than 10,000 performers and include the recreation of an idyllic English rural scene complete with live animals.
Britain is in the grip of a pickpocketing epidemic as Eastern European gangs descend on London ahead of the Olympic Games.
A surge in sneak street thefts means more than 1,700 people fall victim every day – an increase of nearly a fifth in only two years, according to official crime figures released yesterday.
At the same time, police warned that professional gangs from Romania, Lithuania and even South America who operate in capitals across Europe are heading to Britain, intent on cashing in on unwitting tourists at London 2012.
A BBC investigation exposed the tactics used by Romanian thieves, who were previously operating in Barcelona, to dupe their victims.
The criminals boasted of their ‘one-second’ theft techniques which leave targets unaware that anything has happened until it is too late. They can make £4,000 a week taking wallets, smartphones and laptop bags. The goods are then shipped back to Romania and sold on the black market.
Scotland Yard has made more than 80 arrests already and warned thieves the capital will be a ‘hostile environment’ in the coming weeks.
The Met has even drafted in a team of Romanian police officers to deal with the problem and patrol in the West End of London and Westminster during the Games. They will not have arrest powers.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘These Romanian officers will prove to be a huge asset in cracking down on certain criminal networks who are targeting tourists in central London.’
Official statistics released yesterday showed pickpocketing thefts rose 17 per cent in the past two years.
In 2011/12, a total of 625,000 people fell victim, the Crime Survey of England and Wales showed.
That is an increase of more than 102,000 since 2009/10.
The vast majority of the total are classified as ‘stealth thefts’, but in 83,000 cases the victims’ possessions were ‘snatched’.
The BBC report showed the first member of a pickpocket gang approaching their victim with a request for directions.
Another member of the gang then plays drunk to get close to the target, while taking their wallet or mobile phone. The stolen goods are handed to a third member and quickly spirited away.
The thieves told the BBC reporter they were examining online maps of London to help plan escape routes.
Detective Inspector Mark Teodorini, the head of Scotland Yard’s Olympics crime team, called for public vigilance. Officers have conducted a series of raids in recent weeks on properties where suspected thieves were living.
He said: ‘We know where people are. We know the addresses they are using, we know the vehicles they are using, and we will come through their door very robustly – and if we find anything on them, we will arrest them.’
He added: ‘We won’t always get them in the act but we are trying to disrupt their activity.
‘It is going to be a hostile environment for pickpockets. My advice to them is “don’t bother”.’
Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said: ‘The rise in pickpocketing, thefts of wallets and unattended bags is worrying and can be the cause of upset for many victims.
‘So we cannot afford to be complacent in the fight against crime.’
In April, a family of Romanian pickpockets who built expensive homes in their home country with the proceeds of thefts from commuters were jailed.
The Rostas family targeted up to 1,000 train passengers who slept on late trains leaving London.
Five members of the family were jailed for a total of ten years.
Also attending as FEI representatives were Technical Advisor Leopoldo Palacios, Jumping Technical Delegate Frank Rothenberger, and footing experts Oliver Hoberg and Bart Poels. Olympic course designer Bob Ellis was also present. All were unanimous in their view that the footing that has been produced is of a quality that would be expected of an Olympic Games and performs consistently across the full extent of the arena, as well as on the training and warm-up areas.
The conclusions of those present following the visual assessment of the horses jumping were supported by the scientific work carried out on the surface by Lars Roepstorff. Professor in equine functional anatomy at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Lars has been carrying out research on the properties of equestrian surfaces around the world as part of a long-term scientific footing study for the FEI. He measured properties including surface firmness, elasticity, the dampening capacity of the footing, and grip. He considers the London 2012 footing to be amongst the best and particularly the most consistent that he has worked on, a view supported by attending FEI representatives.
“A lot of work has been done on this footing with the involvement of many experts and we are really happy with the final result”, said FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos, who was also present at the assessment. “It is the first time that there has been such a scientific approach to footing and hopefully this will be part of the long-term legacy as it helps us to determine the parameters that can be used in the future to establish scientifically approved criteria for optimal footing.
“Tim Hadaway showed me around the cross-country and we were happy to see that the footing is in very good shape and ready for the competition, and that the recent adverse weather conditions have had no negative effects.”
London's Olympic Village
LONDON -- "Sex And The City" move over. Here comes "Sex In The Village." Make that athletes village. As in Olympics.
Tales of shenanigans at the living quarters for 10,000 super-fit young men and women have always abounded, and London doesn't look as if it will be any different.
U.S. women's soccer star Hope Solo recently dished about serious partying at the Beijing Games, and some newly arrived athletes say they can hardly wait for the fun to begin.
"The Olympics is the height of your career, so you might do some things you don't usually do," British beach volleyball player Shauna Mullin (left) said with a giggle Wednesday.
Most, like Mullin, will restrain from going too far, aware they're in the international spotlight.
Still, there's no need to be prudish, according to the man overseeing the health of the Brazilian team.
"(Sex) is common at the Olympics. It's necessary. It's natural," Dr. Joao Olyntho Machado Neto said. "If you are going to be healthy people, why not make sex? ... Brazil is very tolerant with sex as a country. We don't have Victorian minds and we're not religious."
Ivory Coast swimmer Kouassi Brou was one of the youngest competitors in Beijing at 16, but he's grown up now.
And ready for some Olympic love.
"In 2008 I was so young and so shy, so I didn't interact with the women," the 20-year-old Brou said. "But now I'm a big man. So I can try. I will try."
And he's clear about his ambitions.
"If they are beautiful, it's OK," he said.
Thousands of free condoms will be available. Organizers have heard enough about village antics from previous games to know there will be heavy demand by athletes for contraception.
Solo (right) recalled seeing competitors having sex out in the open in Beijing.
"On the grass, between buildings, people are getting down and dirty," the 2008 gold medalist told ESPN The Magazine recently.
Still, her revelations startled some athletes interviewed in the athletes village on Wednesday.
"It's not something I've seen at all. ... Maybe I wasn't up on the right nights," Australian canoeist Warwick Draper (below left) said. "It's not something I think you'd expect to see in the village."
Mullin knows how she would react to anything racy: "I'm pretty sure if I see it I'll end up laughing."
Wild parties in athletes villages are not new. Many of them live in a world where every move is followed by the media and they're delighted to unwind in the privacy of the village, where the outside world is excluded.
Ask fencer Kanae Ikehata about bed hopping between the apartment buildings, and her blushing cheeks turn even more red.
"I am Japanese," she said, suggesting her compatriots' behavior is more elegant than others.
"I'll only look," she added while shopping for Olympic merchandise.
But maybe the amorous couples Solo spotted outdoors in Beijing had the right idea.
Fitting just one person into the beds provided for Olympians in London is proving to be a problem in itself.
"As an athlete you have to relax, get a little bit of space ... but here it is tight and the beds are too small," said Sierra Leone sprinter Ibrahim Turay. "It is a bit difficult for me to lie down."
There's also not much privacy.
"It's pretty tight for us. I'm sharing one room with my coach and there are four rooms in one apartment, with one toilet, so we have to figure out how to use the toilet," Turay said.
There won't be much party time for Turay. His events go nearly until the end. The closing ceremony is Aug. 12.
He hopes others can keep the sound levels down.
"I just have to keep myself away from the crowd, the noisy distractions," he said
Reed Kessler had expected her effort to make the U.S. Olympic team as a show jumper would be mainly just a good experience. After all, a few months before the trials in late March, she wasn’t old enough to attempt the 5-foot-3 Olympic height, and her new horse was too fat even to try.
Now both are on the Olympic team, headed to London for the show-jumping competition Aug. 4-8.
At 10 years old, Kessler’s slimmed-down horse, the Belgium warmblood mare Cylana, is at the age when jumpers start their prime, which can go well into their mid-teens. But at 18, Kessler is the youngest rider ever on the U.S. Equestrian Team, which also includes eventing and dressage, as well as the youngest Olympic show-jumper ever, according to the organization that oversees international equestrian sports.
“That’s the magic in this story, that the two of them would come together like that,” said Teri Kessler, Reed’s mom and an accomplished amateur show jumper, as is her husband, Murray. The Kesslers recently moved to a farm near the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Reed Kessler, who turned 18 on July 9, has been competing against older riders for most of her career. But on Jan. 1 she finally was eligible under equestrian sport regulations to show over jumps at the Olympic height. About the same time, Cylana — purchased last July in Switzerland — had gotten into shape and turned into what Kessler called “a monster.”
Katie Prudent — a world-class competitor who now coaches world-class competitors, including her goddaughter Kessler — said the teen has all the right ingredients: She’s extremely focused and motivated as well as talented, and she has parents who understand the sport and its demands intimately.
“Obviously, she’s a very special girl,” Prudent said by phone from France. “... We talked about London four years ago; we’ve always talked about it. She wanted to be an Olympian from the time she could ride, practically. I always encouraged her to think big and said, ‘When you’re 18, London is your first Olympics, and you can make it if you really work hard.’ And she did. ...
With forecasters finally predicting a glimmer of sunlight might redeem a sodden summer before the Games begin, London 2012 organisers admitted that the relentless rain had caused serious challenges.
Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, said on Tuesday that spectator areas at the Eton Dorney rowing lake and the Greenwich Park equestrian venues were waterlogged, and that special measures were being taken.
Trackway is being laid to protect car parks and areas in which crowds will gather, as well as to allow contractors to continue final preparations of the venues.
Coe warned spectators to dress appropriately for the conditions.
“This is proving quite a challenge to us. We’ve got waterlogged sites, we’ve got resurfacing taking place, particularly in some of our more sensitive sites, our more rural sites.
“At Greenwich Park and Eton Dorney we’re laying down a trackway and surfaces for spectators and vehicles now and through the Games.
“At the risk of sounding like a father about to usher their kids off on an Outward Bound trip, let me make the obvious point that we are a northern European country and people do need to be wearing the right footwear and the right rainproof clothing.”
Director of communications Jackie Brock-Doyle said: “For the more rural venues people should bring wellies.”
Both rowing and equestrianism have spare days built into their schedules in case poor weather causes the cancellation of competition.
“We do have contingencies,” Coe said. “We have got the contingency of extra days available to us in rowing and equestrian sport as a last resort. We’ve got an alternate sailing course available at Weymouth and the famous roof at Wimbledon. For the hardier souls in track and field, hockey and triathlon it’s pretty much business as usual.”
Locog’s wet-weather preparations come with the Met Office finally predicting an improvement during the Games with the jet stream that has lingered over the UK shifting north.
In its forecast for the week ending July 29 it said: “There are now signs that the unsettled weather will become more focused towards northern and western parts of the United Kingdom. This will result in drier, more settled conditions in the south with some brighter, warmer weather.”
For the period from July 30 to the end of the Games, it predicts brighter weather in the south, but rain will continue to threaten.
The picture will become clearer on Wednesday when Locog receives a 10-day forecast from the Met, considered broadly accurate.
He said there was no risk of venues not being ready in time and while there was still work to be done, it was not substantive.
With 10 days to go until the opening ceremony, Coe said preparations were on track.
Some 96 of the 204 countries competing at the Games had checked into the Village on its opening on Monday with 733 of an expected 17,000 athletes and officials in residence by the end of the first day.
Coe addressed concerns about security, saying it had not and would not be compromised by the failure of G4S to mobilise staff.
He also played down reports of first day traffic problems and bus drivers getting lost on the journey from the airport to the Village in east London.
''But for a missed turning and a couple of Tweets, we're in pretty good shape,'' he smiled.
''I don't think we should get out of proportion some of these issues. We had a tweet yesterday talking about a four-hour delay, it was actually two and a half. We had a driver that missed a turnoff.
''Out of 100 coach journeys that's likely to happen. The majority of athletes got in in good shape and on time. Getting in from the airport and to the village is important, and 98 percent of those journeys went without any hitch at all yesterday.''
Ralph Lauren's USA Olympic uniforms
National uniforms for the Olympics rarely fail to elicit extreme emotions among fashion critics. While the Indian uniform designs appear far from inspiring, there's more drama in countries where the uniforms have been designed by international designers.
When Ralph Lauren introduced the uniforms to be sported by Team USA in the London Games' opening and closing ceremonies, his designs got a mixed reaction. While some in the US criticized them for harking back to Gatsby's America, others said they were suave as can be. But whether fashion critics loved or loathed Ralph Lauren's designs for Team USA heading for the London Olympics is now secondary. For, Lauren's designed-in-the-US, made-in-China uniforms have come under heavy fire for outsourcing jobs to China, when unemployment in the US is reported to be above 8%. Such is the anger in the US against the made-in-China tag for the national team's uniform that the majority leader in the Senate, Harry Reid has even demanded that the uniforms be burnt.
That's not happening, though, for it's too late in the day to have the uniforms re-manufactured in the US now, with the London Games less than 10 days away. But six Democrats say they intend to introduce a legislation in the Senate next week that would make it mandatory by law to manufacture ceremonial uniforms for national teams within the country. But till the Team USA Made In America Act, 2012 - as it will be called - is passed, the US has Ralph Lauren's word that the uniforms for the Winter Olympics in 2014 will be entirely home-manufactured. According to statement by the designer brand, "We are honored to continue our longstanding relationship with the United States Olympic Committee in the 2014 Olympic Games by serving as an Official Outfitter of the US Olympic and Paralympic teams. Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government addressing the issue of increasing manufacturing in the United States and has committed to producing the Opening and Closing ceremony Team USA uniforms in the United States that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games."
Stella McCartney's uniforms for the Great Britain
Stella McCartney's uniforms for the Great Britain team received adverse comments not for lacking in the design department, but for not sporting enough of the national colours. The design was thrashed for being "too blue", and not having enough red. British loyalists weren't too lenient while making their point on Facebook. "Badly designed. Not enough red. They don't emphasis (sic) the athletes physique. Design by McCommittee?" wrote one on a picture of the designs posted on the social networking site. Another one wrote on Stella McCartney's FB page, "an absolute disgrace .... you should be ashamed and embarrassed at that abomination ... the GB flag is RED white and blue, NOT blue, grey and blue ... typical self centered artist trying to 'be different' rather than designing for the purpose. Stella McARTney (sic) hang your head."
The designer finally took to her microblogging account to justify the choice of colours. She wrote: "I see many feel as strongly about the Union flag as I do! The design actually uses more red & shows more flag than any Team GB kit since '84."
Giorgio Armani has designed the uniforms for Team Italy
Prada stepped up to dress up Italy's sailing team
Giorgio Armani has designed the uniforms for Team Italy for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games. Like McCartney, he steered clear of Italy's flag colours while designing the dress. But how did he manage to dodge the critics for his white and midnight blue creation? He made up for the lack of the national colours by emblazoning words from the country's national anthem on the insides of the jackets. "This is going to be the most fashionable Olympic Games ever," said Armani at the launch of his Olympics designs. And sure enough, not much later, Prada stepped in not just to dress up Italy's sailing team, but also to sponsor it.
Cedella Marley has designed the uniforms for Jamaican Olympics
Bob Marley's daughter, Cedella Marley has designed the much approved uniforms for Jamaican Olympics team. For this once, no controversy or criticism. Just a big thumbs up from everyone.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union, which has a number of cab drivers in its membership, said:
“It’s a scandal that a London taxi was used as an iconic London image to secure the games and yet those same cab drivers are now being kicked in the teeth by Olympics chiefs over the VIP lanes and the entire Olympics transport strategy.”
However John Mason, Director of London Taxi and Private Hire, defended the arrangement.
“We have worked tirelessly with groups that represent the majority of hard working taxi drivers to provide cabbies with as much access to the lanes as possible.
“Transport for London has secured concessions specifically for taxi drivers, including the use of turns along the Olympic Route Network that were initially banned for all traffic except buses, as well as access to a number of kerbside Games lanes to pick up passengers.
"We have informed taxi drivers that any such demonstration is completely irresponsible and would only disrupt the travelling public – the very people taxi drivers are supposed to serve.
“We strongly urge taxi drivers to ignore calls to join these unnecessary protests and instead show why they are regularly voted the best in the world.”
The bulk of the lanes will come into force on July 25 just ahead of the Games. Ordinary motorists - and cyclists - who use the lane face a £130 fine.
Travel experts had warned that even the slightest problem on London's roads during the Olympics could create "the perfect storm."
Former head of traffic at the Metropolitan Police Kevin Delaney, now head of road safety at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: "The problem with the Games lanes is that London's road network runs at, or very close to, capacity almost all day, almost every day of the year.
"Wherever the Games lanes are, they have reduced the amount of lanes for ordinary traffic. You are actually reducing the amount of road space for ordinary traffic.
"Unless everybody heeds the advice to not drive, there are problems. Imagine if there is a situation where we have a breakdown or a crash. The road network just would not cope with that.
"It would be like a perfect storm - the level of congestion that you would normally get would be magnified.
"It is because London's road network actually operates so efficiently that if anything goes wrong it goes badly wrong.
"The best analogy I can make is the blood system in your body - it works fine until you get a clot but when you do get one it has a disproportionate effect."
Apart from a brief respite after the Olympics, they will remain in force until early September and the conclusion of the Paralympics.
There are fears that this could lead to gridlock in the capital. Many businesses have voiced fear of how the capital will cope, especially restaurants who have been told they will have to receive food deliveries in the early hours of the morning.
Yesterday Hugh Robertson, the sports minister, said the lanes could be suspended if London grinds to a halt.
Transport for London, which is responsible for the running most of the Olympic Route Network, has said the lanes, which are in force from 6 am to midnight, will also be opened to ordinary motorists when they are not needed.
The first Games Lane is at the site of the previous M4 bus lane which operated for 3.5 miles between junctions 3 and 2 on the London-bound carriageway.
The M4 lane, which will be in operation between 5am and 10pm, is being introduced early to cope with the beginning of the big rush of Olympic arrivals starting today at nearby Heathrow airport.
The London 2012 Athletes' Village, in Stratford, east London, also opens today with GB athletes competing in diving, equestrian, football, shooting and swimming expected to be the first to enter.
The M4 is part of the Olympic Route Network (ORN) and provides an important access route for members of the Games Family including athletes, their officials and equipment arriving at Heathrow for their journey to the Olympic Village.
Around 80 per cent of Games Family arrivals are expected to pass through this way.
Within the ORN are 30 miles of Games Lanes which will become operational on July 25 - two days before the Olympic opening ceremony.
The Games Lanes will be clearly marked and will operate alongside existing traffic. All road users will be able to go into the lanes when they are not in use overnight.
Those who stray into operational Games Lanes face a penalty charge of £130, while illegally parked vehicles will be removed to a pound and may incur a release fee of £200
London Olympics color poster by Charles Fazzino
London art - Craig Barker phone boxes
By Graham Ruddick, and Ben Harrington - The Telegraph
Nick Buckles - G4S Security
Nick Buckles, the chief executive, has also disclosed that Olympic organisers were late in sending the company final details of where security guards would be needed and in what numbers.
In a remarkably frank interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Buckles said the debacle was a "big setback" and his future would ultimately lie in the hands of shareholders.
"I have got to make sure we deliver this contract. What happens thereafter is down to others. It's a big setback for us, we are really disappointed with how this has turned out," he said. "I want to stay. I have been here 27 years, I am very committed to staying. It just depends, doesn't it?"
Asked if he had considered resigning, he said "of course".
The Government has had to call in the 3,500 Army personnel to fill the hole in Olympic security left by G4S's failure. The company has provided just 4,000 of the 10,000 security staff it agreed to deliver and now faces a loss of up to £50m on the contract, including penalty fees of £10m to £20m. G4S had previously forecast a profit of £10m this year from the contract.
Mr Buckles, who earns a base salary of £830,000 a year, said the financial impact of the crisis will mean he will not take a bonus this year.
"I honestly believe most CEOs going forward will have a reason why they can't take their bonus," he stated. "This is a huge reason, I am not denying that. I wouldn't get one anyway because it will hit the profit line."
It will be the second year in succession that Mr Buckles has not taken a bonus. Last year G4S was forced to scrap a £5.2bn takeover of ISS after opposition from shareholders, costing it £55m in fees.
Peter Lees, head of equities at F&C Investments, which owns 0.5pc of G4S, said: "It is too early to say what should happen to Nick Buckles. We need to see in detail what went wrong first. We supported Mr Buckles through one fiasco but there are only so many fiascos you can have."
G4S has pledged to conduct an internal review into the failings of the Olympic contract after London 2012.
Mr Buckles said the company had "underestimated the challenge" of finding 10,000 staff and took responsibility for the shortfall. However, he said there were "mitigating circumstances" such as the organisers of London 2012, Locog, being late in providing the final details of the day-by-day security requirements for the Olympics.
Grahame Gibson, the chief operating office of G4S and a member of the board, raised £280,000 by selling 100,000 shares in the company on June 19, two weeks before the Olympic crisis was reported to Mr Buckles.
A spokesman for G4S said the share sale was for "personal reasons" and that Mr Gibson, who is the head of G4S's Americas business and based in the US, was not involved in the Olympic operations
G4S’s Facebook page for new recruits was also full of complaints about its shambolic operation.
And it was revealed that some of the 3,500 troops drafted in to shore up security in the wake of the firm’s bungling are being forced to sleep ROUGH between shifts.
A furious engineer at the main site in Stratford, East London, said: “When I arrived for work I saw two exhausted young lads in uniform lying under a tarpaulin sheet. It’s a disgrace.”
Hundreds of extra police officers from 12 forces are also set to be deployed to stand guard at Olympic venues across the country.
These will include Wembley, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and Newcastle’s St James’ Park which will all host 2012 football games.
The move will put an added strain on an already overstretched police force — with cops’ rest days likely to be scrapped.
Last night G4S chief executive Nick Buckles finally apologised for the shambles — and said he was “deeply disappointed” his firm had failed to recruit enough staff.
The company — whose Games contract is worth £284MILLION — said it would pick up the tab for the increased military deployment and claimed it will now make a LOSS of £50MILLION on the deal.
David Cameron had said earlier: “I am absolutely clear that if companies don’t deliver on their contract then they should be pursued for that money.”
In contrast to the shambles at G4S, dedicated soldiers were yesterday preparing to protect the nation during the Games by manning missile launchers on Blackheath Common, South East London.
The United States Olympic Committee today announced the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team that will compete in the upcoming London Olympic Games. The 530-member team is comprised of 269 women and 261 men, marking the first time in history that Team USA features more female athletes.
The United States will be represented in 25 sports (38 disciplines) and 246 of the 302 medal events that will be contested in London.
"The United States of America will be represented at the Olympic Games in London by 530 of our country's finest individuals. They are our nation's greatest athletes and embody what it means to be American. I look forward to watching them compete and to representing our nation both on and off the field of play," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. "I'm also proud that for the first time in history, the U.S. Olympic Team features more women than men - a true testament to the impact of Title IX, which in its 40-year history has increased sport opportunities for millions of females across the United States."
The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team features 228 returning Olympians, including seven five-time Olympians, 21 four-time Olympians, 57 three-time Olympians and 143 two-time Olympians.
Returning from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where the U.S. finished first in the overall medal count with 110 medals, are 206 U.S. Olympians. Among the returnees are 124 Olympic medalists, 76 of whom are Olympic champions.
The seven U.S. Olympians headed to their fifth Olympic Games include Amy Acuff, track & field; Phillip Dutton (left), equestrian - eventing; Khatuna Lorig, archery; Emil Milev, shooting; Karen O'Connor, equestrian - eventing; Kim Rhode, shooting; and Danielle Scott-Arruda, volleyball - indoor. Only 16 other athletes in U.S. Olympic history have competed in five Olympic Games.
"America's athletes, our National Governing Bodies and the USOC have worked hand-in-hand to help this quadrennial moment be realized, and as we head into the exciting 17 days of the Games, we stand together as one team - Team USA," said USOC Chairman Larry Probst. "The members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team look forward to being gracious guests to our London hosts and rising to their best as the Games unfold."
Highlighting this list of accomplished U.S. athletes are swimmers Michael Phelps (right) and Natalie Coughlin. Phelps, who won a historic eight gold medals at the 2008 Games to become the most decorated Olympian at a single Games as well as the first person to win a total of 14 Olympic gold medals, needs just two medals to match Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's record as the most decorated Olympian in history. Coughlin, who owns 11 Olympic medals, needs just one more medal to join swimmers Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres as the most decorated females in U.S. Olympic history.
"Today another distinguished group of athletes has earned the distinction of being named to the U.S. Olympic Team," said Teresa Edwards, 2012 U.S. Olympic Team chef de mission and five-time Olympic medalist in basketball. "Whether competing at their first Games or fifth, the athletes on this team have made countless sacrifices, dedicating themselves to the pursuit of their Olympic dreams and to being their best both on and off the field of play. During the Games, we will continue to support them in every way possible and look forward to witnessing greatness."
2012 U.S. Olympic Team Fun Facts:
• Forty-four states are represented, including 128 athletes hailing from California, 35 from both New York and Pennsylvania and 33 from Texas.
• The oldest and youngest Olympians on the 2012 Olympic Team - equestrian athlete Karen O'Connor, 54, and swimmer Katie Ledecky, 15 - are separated by 39 years, while the average age is 27.
• Basketball center Tyson Chandler checks-in as the tallest member of Team USA at 7 feet, 1 inch, and at 4 feet, 11 inches, three athletes are tied as the shortest members of Team USA - diver Katie Bell, wrestler Clarissa Chun and gymnast Gabby Douglas.
tennis players Bob and Mike Bryan
rowers Grant and Ross James
• Team USA features two sets of twins in tennis players Bob and Mike Bryan and rowers Grant and Ross James. Other team siblings include swimmers Alyssa and Haley Anderson, taekwondo athletes Diana and Steven Lopez, sailors Paige and Zach Railey, field hockey players Julia and Katie Reinprecht, water polo players Jessica and Maggie Steffans and tennis players Serena and Venus Williams.
• Sixty-seven members of Team USA have children; there are 54 dads and 13 moms.
• Serving in the U.S. Army's World Class Athlete Program are Spc. Dennis Bowsher (modern pentathlon), Sgt. 1st Class Dremiel Byers (wrestling), Spc. Justin Lester (wrestling), Sgt. Spenser Mango (wrestling), Sgt. John Nunn (track & field), Sgt. 1st Class Keith Sanderson (shooting) and Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski (shooting).
• The following shooters serve in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit: Sgt. Glenn Eller, Sgt. Vincent Hancock, Sgt. Michael McPhail, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker, Staff Sgt. Joshua Richmond and Sgt. 1st Class Eric Uptagrafft.
Athletes from 40 countries on six continents will compete in the equestrian events of the London 2012 Olympic Games, which get underway on 28 July. The list of entries validated by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is now available on the FEI website.
Continuing the Olympic tradition, Jumping is the strongest discipline with 26 nations represented, but Dressage – for the first time – has the same number of nations taking part as Eventing, 23 for each discipline.
Seven nations – Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the USA – will be represented by teams in all three Olympic equestrian disciplines of Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing. Four countries - Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and host nation Great Britain – have qualified the maximum number of 13 riders.
The Olympic equestrian events will take place from 28 July to 9 August at Greenwich Park.
Summary by discipline:
26 nations: ARG, AUS, AZE, BEL, BER, BRA, CAN, CHI, COL, EGY, FRA, GBR, GER, IRL, JOR, JPN, KSA, MEX, NED, POR, RUS, SUI, SWE, SYR, UKR, USA
15 teams: AUS, BEL, BRA, CAN, CHI, FRA, GBR, GER, KSA, MEX, NED, SUI, SWE, UKR, USA
11 nations represented by individuals only: ARG, AZE, BER, COL, EGY, IRL, JOR, JPN, POR, RUS, SYR
23 nations: AUS, AUT, BEL, BRA, CAN, DEN, ESP, FIN, FRA, GBR, GER, IRL, ITA, JPN, MAR, NED, NOR, NZL, POL, POR, SWE, UKR, USA
5 nations represented by a team and one individual: DEN, GBR, GER, NED, USA
10 teams (including the five teams mentioned above): AUS, CAN, DEN, ESP, GBR, GER, NED, POL, SWE, USA
13 nations represented by individuals only: AUT, BEL, BRA, FIN, FRA, IRL, ITA, JPN, MAR, NOR, NZL, POR, UKR
23 nations: ARG, AUS, AUT, BEL, BLR, BRA, CAN, ECU, FRA, GBR, GER, IRL, ITA, JAM, JPN, NED, NZL, POL, RSA, RUS, SWE, THA, USA
13 teams: AUS, BEL, BRA, CAN, FRA, GBR, GER, IRL, JPN, NED, NZL, SWE, USA
10 nations represented by individuals only: ARG, AUT, BLR, ECU, ITA, JAM, POL, RUS, RSA, THA
40 nations: ARG, AUS, AUT, AZE, BEL, BER, BLR, BRA, CAN, CHI, COL, DEN, ECU, EGY, ESP, FIN, FRA, GBR, GER, IRL, ITA, JAM, JOR, JPN, KSA, MAR, MEX, NED, NOR, NZL, POL, POR, RSA, RUS, SUI, SWE, SYR, THA, UKR, USA
By: Matthew Kitchen, NBC Olympics
Sources (not ours, the Daily Mail’s) say there was “ferocious debate” among Olympics organizers recently over who would be the famous face to light the Olympic Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony. Apparently it’s down to back-to-back decathlon champion Daley Thompson and five-time rowing gold medalist Steve Redgrave. We had hoped and assumed Munich pentathlon gold medalist Mary Peters was also in the mix, but that isn’t the case.
This news comes after Roger Bannister, our favorite to be the final torchbearer (both financially and otherwise) jogged his leg of the Relay earlier this week around the Oxford track he ran the first sub-four-minute mile at, and the day after David Beckham pulled his name from consideration, saying the honor should go to an Olympian who “has done incredible things for our country and won gold medals.”
It’s no surprise that Thompson, a close friend of Locog chairman Sebastian Coe, is a finalist. Coe has said in the past that if the decathlon proves who the greatest athlete is, then Thompson is “the greatest Olympian we have delivered.” Redgrave’s record – he’s the only man to win gold medals in five consecutive Games – would beg to differ. He’s backed by fellow rower and BOA chairman Lord Moynihan and has been our frontrunner for most of the relay.
There won’t be any announcement, so we won’t know who the final Torch lighter will be until it happens LIVE ON NBC July 27.
Paul Estermann with Castlefield Eclipse
Steve Guerdat with Nino des Buisssonnets
Werner Muff with Kiamon
Pius Schwizer with Carlina or Verdi
Reserve: Clarissa Crotta with West Side van Meerputhoeve
Britain’s armed forces are to provide an additional 3,500 troops for security duty at the Olympic Games, amid fears in Whitehall that G4S, the private security firm, will be unable to supply all the guards it is contracted to deliver.
In a development that has caused fury at the top of the Ministry of Defence, the armed forces are now to provide the extra troops on top of the 13,500 personnel that they have already agreed to
With just a fortnight to go the games, ministers have concluded that G4S – the world’s biggest security company – will be unable to supply all of the 10,000-plus guards it has promised. As a result, the MoD has accepted it will now have to deploy 16,500 troops at the games, 7,000 more than are on operations in Afghanistan.
“This is an unacceptable situation,” said a senior MoD figure. “The MoD has a huge amount on its plate, what with the deployment in Helmand and the overhaul currently taking place in the armed forces. This additional requirement is a huge demand. It inevitably means that some of the troops on guard duty at the games will be people recently back from Afghanistan.”
One person familiar with the recruitment process said the concerns focused on G4S’s inability to adequately roster its new recruits in the lead-up to the games.
“This is a tough ask to recruit that many people from a temporary [employment] pool,” they said.
Mark Hamilton (right), the managing director of G4S’s security personnel, recently told the Financial Times that running out of time was the biggest risk to the Olympics security recruitment operation. At the end of May, G4S said only 3,000 guards were ready to be deployed at the games.
Mr Hamilton said at the time that he was “quietly confident” G4S could meet its recruitment target. However, on Wednesday G4S said the company had “encountered some issues in relation to workforce supply and scheduling” over the past couple of weeks.
“This has been an unprecedented and very complex security recruitment, training and deployment exercise which has been carried out to a tight timescale,” it added.
The Home Office confirmed on Wednesday evening that it had agreed to “offer help to G4S” by “revising the level of military support”. The defence secretary is expected to explain the arrangements to parliament on Thursday.
Theresa May (left), the home secretary, is thought to have phoned G4S executives last week to question them on their progress in recruiting guards. But she distanced herself from the debacle in the House of Commons on Monday, telling MPs that the G4S contract was held by Locog, and not the Home Office, and it was the games organisers who were responsible for managing the deal.
Late last year G4S was asked to double the number of guards it is providing for the games, after the Home Office and Locog realised it needed more than 23,000 personnel to protect Olympic venues.
According to figures from the public accounts committee, the estimated costs of the G4S contract rose accordingly from £86m December 2010 to £284m a year later, but it is unclear whether the deal will be renegotiated after the Olympics.
One person involved in Olympic security discussions said: “There may be conversations [about the contract],” after the games.
As a result of this additional request, the military’s presence at the games will now be heightened. “Many of the people the public will meet at the point of entry to any Olympic event will now be a serving member of the armed forces,” said an MoD official.
Locog denied that the last-minute call on the army would spark fears about the strength of the Olympic security operation.
“Security for the games is big and complex but we have the best brains in the security business working on this – Home Office, Metropolitan Police, MoD and world’s largest private security business,” it said.
Spectators, who have paid up to £2,012 for their seats at the sporting spectacular, will be offered replacements for rescheduled events rather than given their money back.
Organisers said postponing events would be ‘the absolute last resort’ and they expected most of them to be completed on the correct days.
But they are preparing for the worst after forecasters said they expected no respite from the soggy summer.
Athletes, too, are expecting to get a drenching. Jessie Phua, chef de mission of the Singapore team which arrived in England this week, said: ‘This could well be the wettest Olympics in history.’
Five Met Office experts will join the Olympic control centre team next week, to provide advice.
They are predicting no hot spells in the month to August 7, just five days before the end of the Olympics.
Events at most risk of being affected include tennis at Wimbledon, BMX biking in Stratford, rowing at Eton Dorney, eventing at Greenwich Park, sailing at Weymouth and beach volleyball in Horse Guards Parade.
About four in ten of the seats in the Olympic Stadium are not covered, including expensive spaces closest to the track. Organisers have ordered 250,000 ponchos to sell to spectators.
A Locog spokeswoman said ticketing advice for washed-out events would be given out ‘very quickly’. But she said conditions would have to be ‘really bad’ for any postponements.
Sports minister Hugh Robertson has insisted most Olympic venues were ‘reasonably waterproof’.
EQUESTRIAN SPORT OLYMPIC SELECTION: FOUR years on from Beijing and eight years since the Athens Olympics, Irish show jumping has once again come under the spotlight of the non-equestrian media, but this time before the Games have even begun.
While the general public must be baffled, and sceptical, by what is happening in the sport at an Olympic level, for those involved in the national equestrian scene, it is the perception of the Irish horse which worries them most.
In the main, our top international riders live outside the country; their owners, who are mostly non-Irish, generously allow their horses compete under the tricolour; and, the horses on which they compete are usually foreign-bred animals which are rarely seen in this country.
Earlier this month, Co Waterford’s Paul Beecher became the first Irish rider since 2003 to land the famous Hickstead Derby. The 29-year-old won on a home-bred horse and, what’s more, was the first rider to win having been the pathfinder over the Derby course.
There was little fuss made of this achievement and few outsiders have since become aware of Beecher’s name.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the Olympics, nearly everyone in the country who is old enough can remember Cian O’Connor being stripped of the gold medal he won with Waterford Crystal at the 2004 Games in Athens.
They can also recall the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when the equestrian competitions were staged in Hong Kong and Denis Lynch was withdrawn from the final stage of the individual show jumping competition as his mount Lantinus had tested positive for the banned substance capsaicin.
Three other riders – from Brazil, Germany and Norway – also had to watch the action from the sidelines as their horses, too, had tested positive but Irish show jumping certainly didn’t need this second body blow in two successive Games.
What has happened in the past week regarding the nomination of show jumping riders to the Olympic Council of Ireland for this summer’s Games hasn’t helped raise the image of the sport among the general population.
Show jumping is the biggest equestrian sport in this country and every weekend thousands compete up and down the country, from very young children and their tiny ponies upwards. Many are professionals who produce horses either for themselves or others which are often sold on while the amateurs usually keep the same horse for a longer period. Both sectors are important to the breeder who needs an outlet for his stock year on year.
While the top show jumping riders now prefer the Dutch or German-bred animal, there is still a huge market abroad for the Irish horse, mainly in Britain and the United States, and for those involved with equestrianism, the integrity of the Irish horse and related sports in this country must be maintained to a high standard.
We have a lot of very talented young show jumping riders in this country who will wonder what they have to do to get on a senior team. Some come up through the pony, junior and young rider ranks but fail to progress further because of lack of opportunity. For most riders here, be they involved in show jumping or eventing, they have to sell horses to continue in their careers and then watch others climb the ranks with horses they have started.
All, however, would love to wear a green jacket on the international stage as that is where their talents will be noted. Others have already had the chance to show their skills at the highest level and have been found wanting on occasion, let down not by their riding or their horses but by failing to live up to the standards expected of them.
When Horse Sport Ireland nominated Billy Twomey and Denis Lynch to the OCI early last week, its chief executive Damian McDonald stated of all shortlisted riders: “I know they are determined to ensure that Ireland and Irish show jumping is represented with distinction at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.”
Let’s hope the sport is remembered for all right reasons this time around; it hasn’t been a great start.
Riders at the centre of another Olympic storm
THE SHOWJUMPER won the individual gold in Athens in 2004 but was stripped of his medal and forced to hand it back when a sedative was found in the system of his horse, Waterford Crystal. A human sedative, unlicensed for equine use, was administered to Waterford Crystal when the horse was injured and out of competition. The medication was expected to have left the horse’s system before he resumed competing. It hadn’t.
Protesting his innocence throughout, O’Connor found the media spotlight rather more glaring than in the euphoric days immediately after Athens. But things got rapidly worse when Waterford Crystal’s B urine sample was stolen from a lab in Newmarket, and then documentation taken in an alleged break-in at the Irish Equestrian Federation (IEF) offices was faxed anonymously to RTÉ.
With the urine sample out of the picture, the international governing body despatched Waterford Crystal’s B blood sample to a New York laboratory for confirmatory analysis, but it was O’Connor himself who announced the results. Waterford Crystal had tested positive for two human anti-psychotic drugs, fluphenazine and zuclopenthixol.
O’Connor was subsequently cleared of deliberately attempting to enhance the performance of his horse but banned for three months.
He returned to the show jumping circuit shortly after serving his ban but became embroiled in another controversy regarding team selection in 2005 and, after allegedly receiving threats, felt it necessary to hire 24-hour protection for himself.
Lynch was stopped from competing in the final round of the 2008 Games after his horse tested positive for a prohibited substance in Hong Kong. Lynch admitted using an over-the-counter product Equi-Block on his horse Lantinus, a product that contained the prohibited substance, capsaicin, a derivative of chilli pepper.
Equi-Block, a US product available by mail order, was not stocked in Ireland at the time and listed capsaicin – a drug known to be on the Olympic, as well as FEI, list of banned substances – as a main ingredient. On the labelling it claimed that use of the product would not “result in a positive test”.
With Horse Sport Ireland vowing to adopt a zero tolerance approach in future, Lynch was handed a three-month ban by the FEI and returned to showjumping late in 2008.
It has been a tough few months at the pockmarked concrete high-rise known as Fred Wigg Tower. First there was the fire, which left dozens of residents temporarily homeless. Then came the rash of burglaries of fire-damaged apartments. And now the British army will be putting a battery of high-velocity missiles on the roof.
The defense ministry says the missiles, capable of shooting down a hijacked aircraft, are a key piece in the elaborate jigsaw of security for the London Olympics, which start July 27. But many residents of the east London public housing project were dismayed to find themselves suddenly on the counterterrorism front line.
"It's kind of scary now, to be honest," said Iqbal Hossain, who lives in the building with his wife and three children aged 2 to 14. "If it's about safety for the Olympics, what about safety for us? If there is a terrorist attack, the first thing they are going to attack is the missiles."
A High Court judge rejected that argument Tuesday, quashing a challenge by locals. Judge Charles Haddon-Cave said the missiles presented "no real threat" to residents and were an important part of Olympic security.
The missiles will be installed within days on the 17-story tower, one of six sites around London where surface-to-air missiles will be stationed as part of a vast security operation for games that run through Aug. 12. Rapier or smaller high-velocity missiles also will be located atop another apartment building, at a reservoir and on farmland in east London, and along hillsides in the south of the city.
It's all part of a ring of steel protecting the games, which officials acknowledge are a tempting target for terrorists.
The security operation includes 7,500 soldiers, thousands of police and 13,200 private security guards, as well as RAF fighter jets on standby at nearby air bases and a helicopter carrier moored on the River Thames.
Defense Secretary Philip Hammond has said the precautions are intended to provide "both reassurance and a powerful deterrent."
Londoners have long lived with the threat of terrorism. Since the 1970s the city has seen deadly attacks by Irish militants, by a far-right extremist who targeted gay people and ethnic minorities, and by al-Qaida-inspired suicide bombers who killed 52 commuters on the transit system in July 2005.
Britain's official terror threat level stands at substantial, the middle point on a five-point scale, indicating an attack is a strong possibility. Still, the ranking is lower than it has been for much of the time since the July 2005 attacks.
Intelligence officials say there has been an expected increase in chatter among extremist groups ahead of the Olympics but they have uncovered no specific or credible threats to the games.
But security services are being especially vigilant as the games approach. Over the past week, 14 people have been arrested on suspicion of terrorist activity, although police insist none of the cases is linked to the Summer Games. Three men from central England appeared in a London court Tuesday, charged with making a homemade bomb and plotting a terrorist attack, after a search of an impounded car turned up guns and other weapons.
Fred Wigg Tower is one of two 1960s public housing towers on an otherwise low-rise street, and its appeal to the Ministry of Defense is obvious. The upper floors and roof offer an unimpeded view over east London, the Canary Wharf business district and the Olympic Park, about 2 miles (3 kilometers) away.
Residents, many of whom have young children, are upset that they were not consulted on the decision to install the missiles, which was made in secret by the government, the landowner and the local council. They say they only knew of the plans when they got leaflets through their doors in April.
David Forsdick, a lawyer for the Ministry of Defense, said the government was not obliged to consult residents on issues involving national security.
Local lawmaker John Cryer has suggested the residents - many of them recent immigrants who speak English as a second language - are being pushed around because they live in public housing. He said he wondered whether a similar deployment would take place in "a leafy, middle-class area."
Yet in fact leafy, middle-class Blackheath in south London is getting missiles on its common, and another building whose roof is being used is a gated development full of young professionals.
Ground-to-air missiles have become a fixture of Olympic games and other large VIP events in the post-9/11 world, but lawyers for the Fred Wigg tenants say putting deadly weapons in densely populated areas is a dangerous new development.
"We are talking about a dramatic change in the way we live our lives here in Britain," said David Enright, a lawyer for the residents. "I think everyone will be very concerned that their home is no longer their own, that an Englishman's home is no longer his castle."
The authorities are calculating that despite local unease, a silent majority is willing to accept the missiles. Among residents at Fred Wigg Tower, the strongest feeling is resignation.
"I think they have to put (them) somewhere," said Edita Younas, walking her children back from a nearby school. "But why does it have to be us?"
And for some residents, the prospect of the missiles comes as a relief. The tower has had its share of problems, including a fire in December that destroyed several apartments and forced dozens of residents to flee. Two months later, burglars stole possessions from the still-unoccupied apartments.
"This place is sometimes a war zone," said a woman who declined to give her name - for fear, she said, of "bullies" in the building. "People come and do whatever they want. At least for six weeks we are going to have some peace and quiet."
US Olympians march across Britain's infamous Abbey Road
The Team USA Opening Ceremony attire, designed head-to-toe by Ralph Lauren, debuted on the Today Show Tuesday morning, prompting many in our newsroom to groan and one reporter to ask aloud if they were indeed "$%^&ing serious."
Okay, they’re not quite that bad, but the team has never been better dressed than they were walking in Beijing four years ago, so anything would be a letdown. The look actually isn’t all that dissimilar from 2008, but the things they changed definitely stand out, namely the navy beret that looks more French every second we stare at it. If it wasn’t for the (way too big) USA patch stamped on the front we’d assume anyone wearing the cap should be smoking cigarettes and shrinking from conflict.
Aside from the foreign head covering, the one thing we’re not entirely prepared to deal with is the unnecessarily large USA patch on the right breast of the coats. It looks like a gaudy 1980s campaign button that should feature the face of Walter Mondale. The emblem blended more naturally in '08 and didn't look like a target on the chest of our athletes.
US Olympic Opening Ceremony uniforms
It’s easy to bash, though, and there’s actually a few things we like.
The men’s double breasted country club blazer with brass buttons is very sharp and the rounded collar is classy, even if the tie looks off the rack. The white flat fronts look even better on fencer Tim Morehouse once he finds a tailor. We’re disappointed by the bland white shoes, but at least they make sense with the look and don’t distract. We can live with them, but think some top-siders would have added a nice, obnoxiously American touch.
The women’s attire is less forgiving. We love the coat – single breasted for the ladies – but the silk skirt is a bit puritanical and when you add it to the white shoes, crew socks, French flag ascot, and (again) the beret, soccer star Heather Mitts looks like a college student trying to fit in while studying abroad. She’s more likely to be chasing unshowered mustachioed men than gold medals and that’s an issue. The women looked ready to compete in their sleek white slacks in 2008. Here they look like schoolgirls.
If we really wanted the outfits represent all of America our athletes would walk in to the stadium dressed in NASCAR t-shirts, cutoffs, red, white, and blue jester hates, Kanye glasses, and face paint. They'd be wearing the American flag as a cape, and instead of walking in order they'd just shove their way to the front while either telling other countries how much better we are than them, or simply talking loudly on cellphones and stuffing fast food in their faces. America the beautiful.
SHUNNED equestrian rider Hayley Beresford, who had alleged ‘‘blatant bias [and] double standards within team management’’ cost her an Olympic berth, wants her case examined further after the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed her appeal.
With a higher world ranking than two of the three members of Australia’s London-bound dressage team that was announced on Saturday, Beresford — Australia’s best-performing dressage rider in Beijing in 2008 but now a team reserve — has asked that the Australian Olympic Committee investigate Equestrian Australia’s selection process, which was altered to her disadvantage.
Speaking to The Age from Germany, where she defeated cousins Lyndal and Kristy Oatley — granddaughters of billionaire Bob Oatley, owner of Wild Oats XI and sponsor of Australian equestrian events — at a major grand prix, Beresford described ‘‘a terrible, terrible atmosphere within the team’’ and demanded answers.
‘‘I’m very sorry that one rider would have to be challenged and removed, but I think the goal is for Australia to send the best team and I know I want an explanation, as do the owners of my horse and sponsors, as do I think the Australian equestrian community,’’ she said.
‘‘We just need an explanation — what have I done wrong, because it’s not my performances. Along the way the selection process has been changed, and I’m all for a slight bend if it means improving the quality of the team that is to go, but I think there has to be fair grounds.
‘‘We have worked for a very long time to qualify and reach the point of the Olympic standard. It’s two years of planning with this particular horse. And everybody has worked hard but somebody did come in last minute [Kristy Oatley] and she is a very good rider, but she did not outride me. Two riders [Kristy Oatley and Mary Hanna] have clearly not outridden me. They are good riders, I’m not disputing that, but I don’t believe they will do a better job than I will in London. I want answers from the federation ... I really, really need to have an answer.’’
Australian Olympic Committee media boss Mike Tancred said yesterday: ‘‘An independent tribunal sat and was chaired by independent arbiters. Their decision is final.
‘‘Hayley Beresford was not denied natural justice. There was no error in law ...these people are judges and QCs. They didn’t find that.’’
Beresford claims the selection process was altered to favour Kristy Oatley, who was added to the shadow Olympic team after it had been finalised despite not having competed for nearly two years. Beresford said she did not fully understand the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s findings from its sitting in Sydney on Friday that she phoned into from Europe.
The CAS has not yet published its findings. One of the initial reasons Equestrian Australia cited for not selecting Beresford, who is ranked 106th in the world compared to Kristy Oatley, 173rd, Mary Hanna, 112th, and Lyndal Oatley, 94th, was that Kristy Oatley and Hanna had more Olympic experience.
‘‘I was absolutely offended and disgusted by that because in Beijing I was the best Australian rider,’’ Beresford told The Age.
‘‘Kristy was there with me, we were teammates, and I was the highest-placed Australian rider.’’
At age 57, Hanna — the wife of Rob Hanna, Equestrian Australia chef d’equipe — has been picked for her fourth Olympics but Beresford said: ‘‘I think experience should be measured in a current form, not in how old you are.
‘‘A second reason [given by Equestrian Australia] was that Mary had done more competition than me, and that’s unacceptable as well. Just because she’s done more competition she has not necessarily had higher performances. Mary has never had as high a performance as Kristy, Lyndal and I. Never.’’
Sandy Oatley, the father of Lyndal and the uncle of Kristy, said the women had been ‘‘devastated by the accusations’’.
The Oatley family wealth had nothing to do with their selections, he said. Meanwhile, competitors and supporters condemned Equestrian Australia on the federation’s Facebook page yesterday. Sarah Yeomans said Equestrian Australia has ‘‘no credibility & assumes its members are voiceless idiots!’’
The Guardian is reporting......The private security company being paid nearly £300m to guard the London 2012 Olympics has yet to fully train or accredit thousands of security guards needed to protect the games from terrorist attack, it has emerged.
Ministers are anxious that with three weeks left until the opening ceremony, only half the guards needed to guarantee fully staffed patrols of the entrances to venues and carry out other security duties are ready to start work.
The home secretary, Theresa May, has stepped in amid growing concern that additional military personnel may be needed to make up the shortfall. It is understood May called senior G4S executives on Friday after the firm failed to supply enough staff for patrols last week at venues in the Olympic park in east London.
G4S, the private security contractor hired to supply 13,700 guards, still needs to train and accredit about 9,000 guards, according to a security source familiar with preparations. Organisers believe G4S needs at least 19,000 security guards to fulfil its £284m contract, which requires 10,400 licenced guards and 3,300 students. The extra guards are needed as a buffer when staff fail to turn up or fail security screening. G4S will also manage 7,500 military personnel and 2,500 volunteers.
A spokesman for G4S confirmed it has 12,000 security guards available and is training a further 20,000 and will be doing so just days before the games open on 27 July.
"We have had some challenges on workforce scheduling this week, which we have discussed with Locog [the organising committee] and expect to resolve soon," said the spokesman. "At no time was security at the Olympic Park or other venues under threat."
G4S said the problems related to scheduling issues and getting people in the right place at the right time, but the firm said it was confident it would have sufficient trained and accredited guards by the time the games begin.
The company said it was always part of the contract that the security workforce would be in training until the last week of preparations. The Guardian understands that this was an issue that emerged during contract negotiations. It would have cost more to train the guards earlier. Under pressure not to further increase a security budget that has doubled to £533m, the government agreed to the "just-in-time" approach.
Home Office officials are now understood to be in constant contact with G4S at a high level to check on progress and have been demanding figures from the contractor twice a day.
Asked what contingency plans were being made to increase the number of military personnel available to fill any shortfall in G4S guards at Olympic venues, the Ministry of Defence said it would respond to any requests made by Locog.
"We attach the highest priority to safety and security," said a Locog spokeswoman. "We have the best brains in the security business working on this: Home Office, Metropolitan police, Ministry of Defence and the world's largest private security business. We believe that G4S will meet their numbers targets."
The Home Office confirmed on Sunday that a 24-year-old man is facing prosecution for breaching an anti-terror order after he was discovered to have passed through the Olympic park on a train on five occasions.
The man, known as CF in court documents, was subject to a terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpim) order banning him from using the London Overground rail route, which passes through the Olympic Park. He is suspected of having been involved with Somalia's al-Qaida-allied al-Shabaab rebels, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
The newspaper reported that papers in a high court case in which CF is challenging the order, reveal the home secretary believes "that were it not for the Tpim notice, CF would re-engage in terrorism-related activities, either in the UK or Somalia".
A government source said CF's use of the train that passes through the Olympic site "was not seen as a specific threat to the Olympic Park". They said they believed he was using the train as a shortcut. However, the source stressed that the trips on the train did constitute a breach of the counter-terror measures under which the 24-year-old was required to live, adding: "We take these threats seriously and Olympic security is one of our top priorities.".
20,000 flowers used for a giant set of Olympic rings in Kew Gardens, London
London Olympic art
Most dramatic Olympic haircut to date
Associated Press is reporting........Twelve arbitrators will be on duty during the London Olympics to rule quickly on any legal disputes that arise.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced details Monday of the tribunal it will set up for the Olympics.
CAS, the highest court in sports, has had arbitration panels in place at every Olympics since Atlanta in 1996 to resolve disputes over doping, eligibility and other issues.
The London tribunal will be presided over by Judge Juan Torruella of Puerto Rico and Gunnar Werner of Sweden, and will consist of 12 arbitrators from 12 countries. All are lawyers or professors specializing in sports law and arbitration.
A panel of three arbitrators will convene to hear any dispute and render a decision within 24 hours.
It will be operational from July 17 -- 10 days before the opening ceremony -- until the end of the games Aug. 12.
Denis Lynch and Lantinus
RTE Sport is reporting..........Horse Sport Ireland have confirmed their decision not to proceed with Denis Lynch's nomination Denis Lynch will not compete with the Irish Olympic show jumping team, it has been announced.
Horse Sport Ireland have confirmed their decision not to proceed with the Tipperary man’s nomination following the disqualification of Lynch's mount Lantinus during the Nations Cup event at Aachen last week.
Show Jumping team manager Robert Splaine will now put forward another combination from amongst his list of reserves, which includes Cian O’Connor who was disqualified at the Games in Athens in 2004.
Horse Sport Ireland this weekend asked the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) to put ‘ on hold’ the ratification of Denis Lynch to represent Ireland at the 2012 Olympic Games in Greenwich after Lynch’s horse Lantinus was found to be suffering from sore feet and hypersensitive after Thursday evening’s Nations Cup at the Aachen show.
Horses can incur hypersensitivity in natural circumstances, while hypersensitisation is defined as the prohibited artificial production of hypersensitivity.
After a further examination on Friday, Lantinus was deemed unfit for competition and disqualified from the event.
A short statement from Horse Sport Ireland said : “
“We are awaiting a full report on this matter from the FEI and our own personnel in Aachen.
“In the interim, we have asked the OCI to pause the process of ratifying Denis Lynch’s selection for the Games.”
On Saturday, Denis Lynch had this to say in a statement regarding the disqualification of Lantinus.
“Following Lantinus disqualification, I‘d like to take this opportunity to clarify a number of matters regarding the disqualification.
Lantinus was examined two hours prior to competing in the Nations Cup on Thursday. While a small wound on the left fore leg and an abrasion on the right hind leg sustained in the previous days’ competition were identified, these were not associated with any hypersensitivity or abnormalities in the thermographic examination. We were satisfied, therefore, for Lantinus to compete in the Nations Cup.
The Nations Cup was held in very difficult weather and the ground conditions were extremely testing. I’ve always found Aachen to be one of the most enjoyable but competitive shows on circuit and Thursday certainly proved that to be the case. Lantinus was re-examined again after competing in both rounds on Thursday and again on Friday morning at 8.30am. In summary, the areas of sensitivity highlighted above on the left forelimb and on the hind limbs had increased after Lantinus had competed. We were advised that Lantinus was now considered hypersensitive within Annex XI of FEI Veterinary Regulations and on this advice, Lantinus was disqualified by the attending FEI vets.
At no stage, was there any inference that the hypersensitivity was anything other than natural occurring. I feel this is very important to clarify and I would also like to state for the record that I fully support all measures regarding hypersensitivity implemented by the FEI.
My only concern was Lantinus’ welfare and that Lantinus would receive the veterinary attention required. I did not take the opportunity to appeal as I had no intention of Lantinus competing in any other event at Aachen other than the Nations Cup. Consequently the Veterinary commission responded by saying that the horse could now be treated effectively as it would not jump again at the event.
It is very important to state that Lantinus received no further sanction and is free to compete at the next show, should I decide. I am free to compete in Aachen in the remainder of the events also.
Unfortunate and incredibly disappointing as this disqualification of Lantinus has been for me, I am happy with the findings of the Veterinary Commission.
I can now concentrate in competing in the Grand Prix in Aachen on Sunday and look forward to doing so once again”.
Lynch stressed that there was no suspicion of any foul play involved. Only on Tuesday , Horse Sport Ireland had nominated Billy Twomey and Denis Lynch to the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) to represent Ireland in show jumping at the Olympics in London.
The riders were selected by show jumping Team Manager Robert Splaine and following the expiry of the deadline for lodging HSI selection appeals, the names of the two riders were forwarded to the OCI.
Twomey was selected with Edwin and Sue Davies’s mare Tinka’s Serenade (right), while Lynch will ride Thomas Straumann’s gelding Abbervail van het Dingeshof.
Ireland did not qualify a show jumping team for London but two individual slots were secured by Twomey and Lynch from the Olympic rider rankings.
However, under IOC (International Olympic Committee) rules these places are allocated to Ireland and any qualified Irish rider could be selected to fill the place. However, after strong performances recently, Twomey and Lynch are now to be nominated to the OCI to fill the places.
At Tuesday’s announcement , Horse Sport Ireland CEO Damian McDonald said that while it was important to have success at the games it was vital that there were no infringements of anti doping or medication regulations at the event.
“Since 2008 a number of measures have been put in place to address what happened at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games. Since 2008 over 300 horses ridden by Irish riders have been tested during international competitions by the FEI and all have tested negative which is as it should be,” he said.
“However, we cannot be complacent. We have been working closely with the OCI to put the right protocols in place in the lead up to the games. The OCI /HSI monitoring group met with the riders in Dublin airport yesterday to ensure all possible further safeguards are put in place.
“The riders have gone out of their way to work with us on these issues and I know they are determined to ensure that Ireland and Irish show jumping is represented with distinction at the 2012 Olympic games in London,’ he said.
A further statement is expected from Horse Sport Ireland on Monday if not before. , but considering the situation as it is today it would not be a great surprise if the decision goes against Denis lynch and results in a sensational recall for Cian O’Connor and his mount Blue Loyd. O’Connor you will recall took Gold for Ireland in 2004 on Waterford Crystal, a result which was later overturned after banned substances were found in his horse’s system. If Lynch is to be replaced – which now seems likely – then the choice will surely be between O’Connor and Shane Sweetman on Amaretto d’Arco.
The next 24 hours will be crucial especially for Lynch as yet another show jumping controversy involves Ireland.
The German Equestrian Federation has named its Show Jumping Olympic team for London 2012, following competition at Aachen at the weekend.
London Olympic Park
The Telegraph is reporting.......The alleged al-Qaeda militant was caught crossing through the Olympic Park five times, breaking a ban imposed by the Home Secretary, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.
The 24 year-old has previously tried to get to Afghanistan, allegedly for terrorist training, and is suspected of fighting for the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab, which has been responsible for thousands of deaths, including those of Western aid workers. He is accused of trying to recruit other Britons to its cause.
A Home Office lawyer warned after his discovery in the Olympic area that the man - known as CF - wanted to “re-engage in terrorism-related activities, either in the UK or Somalia” and is “determined to continue to adhere to his Islamist extremist agenda”.
His detention is the most serious security alert yet to hit the Olympic Park.
It is disclosed today after a week which saw 14 terror-related arrests across Britain, including a white Muslim convert detained over an alleged plan to carry out a major terrorist attack.
The Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, will be protected by the largest peacetime security operation ever seen in Britain when the event begins on July 27.
CF is one of nine suspected risks to national security who are subject to Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (Tpim) - legal orders which restrict their movements and computer use and who they can meet.
They were introduced to replace control orders, which were abolished by the Coalition after long-running controversy over whether they breached human rights and threatened civil liberties.
CF is being prosecuted for breaking the conditions of his order after he was arrested last month and held in police custody. He challenges the banning order at the High Court on Monday. He is charged with five separate breaches between April and May of an order specifically banning him from using the London Overground rail route which passes through the centre of the Olympic Park. He apparently travelled from Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station in north London to Stratford, the station for the Games.
Stratford station is beside the Westfield shopping centre which people will go through to get into the Olympic Park, where most of the events are to be held. The area is heavily protected and regarded by security services and police as among the most significant targets for terrorists.
His presence in the banned zone was discovered because of an electronic tag which he must wear under the conditions of his order, which banned travelling on the route he took or being in the vicinity of the Games. The tag uses GPS satellite technology to trace his exact movements, and revealed he had passed through the Olympic Park repeatedly.
The latest security scare came to light in a court case involving CF and another terror suspect, known as CC.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has compiled a case against CF which says he attempted to travel to Afghanistan to fight jihad and take part in suicide operations in 2008. He was prosecuted in Britain but absconded during his trial in June 2009 and fled to Somalia. In his absence he was acquitted of any crime. Officials claim CF, who comes from a large family of Somali origin from north London, attended a terrorist training camp and fought alongside jihadis from the al-Qaeda group al-Shabaab.
The Home Office says CF is linked to a group of six British nationals who received terror training from al-Qaeda leader Saleh Nabhan, who was killed in a dramatic raid by American Navy Seals in 2009, an operation with parallels to the raid last year which killed Osama bin Laden. CF was possibly involved in CC’s plans to attack Western interests in Somaliland - which has broken away from Somalia and does not have a fundamentalist Islamic regime - the court heard, and attempted to find recruits in the UK for fighting overseas.
CF, who married a Somali woman in Mogadishu in 2010, suggested he and CC may have been betrayed to the authorities by CC’s brother-in-law for a bounty payment. Both men deny involvement in terrorism. They were arrested in Burao, Somaliland on January 14 2011 and deported to Britain. When he returned that March CF was jailed for his previous absconding offence. He was released from HMP High Down, Surrey, in May 2011, after serving just under two months’ imprisonment. He was then placed on a control order and required to live in Norwich. A Tpim restricting his movements, his access to electronic communications, and the people he is allowed to meet was imposed when the measures came into force earlier this year.
In papers in the High Court proceedings, James Eadie QC, for the Home Office, said: “The Secretary of State continues to assess that were it not for the Tpim notice, CF would re-engage in terrorism-related activities, either in the UK or Somalia.
“Notwithstanding that CC and CF have now been subject to controls for longer than a year, it cannot be said that either of them has renounced his commitment to terrorism, nor has the passage of time significantly diminished the risk they present.” He added: “The Secretary of State assessed that it was necessary to impose a control order on CF to manage the risk posed by CF following his release from prison, as he was previously successful in absconding from bail. “As CF has previously re-engaged in Islamist extremist activity, despite being on bail, previous disruptive action has not been enough to dissuade him from his involvement in Islamist extremism.
“His previous conduct has demonstrated a level of commitment to Islamist extremism, and CF is therefore determined to continue to adhere to his Islamist extremist agenda.”
His lawyers claimed at a High Court hearing last Friday that he had been given “erroneous advice” by his solicitors. Lawyers said he had been travelling to attend legal meetings at his solicitors’ office in Stratford. CF has since been released on bail and is due to be prosecuted for breaching his Tpim measures later this year.
A full court hearing challenging the two suspects’ Tpim measures, as well as the legality of control orders they were previously under, begins at the High Court on Monday before Mr Justice Lloyd Jones.
The cases of CF and CC are the first to come to light where terror suspects have been placed on control orders or Tpims after returning to the UK from suspected terror activity abroad. In previous known cases, the legal measures have been used to restrict extremists whom the Home Secretary has been unable to deport to their home countries due to human rights concerns.
CF and CC are also bringing legal claims against the Government, claiming that British agents were complicit in torturing them in a Somali prison. Their lawyers claim the two men were assaulted and subjected to “mock executions” before being illegally deported back to Britain, which they say was “unlawful rendition”.
The allegations will reignite claims that British intelligence agencies have been complicit in alleged ill-treatment of terror suspects overseas. They echo the case of Binyam Mohammed, a former Guantánamo Bay detainee, who claimed an MI5 officer colluded in his torture.
Danny Friedman, the barrister representing CF, told the High Court last week that “at least one, if not more, UK agents participated in unlawful conduct” including “hooding, assaults, mock execution and humiliation” when the men were first detained. When visited by a British consular representative one month later, CF and CC complained of being ill-treated and said they suspected some of the perpetrators were British, but no action was taken, according to court papers. CF also endured sleep deprivation and “forced standing” in Hargeisa prison in Somaliland, where he was held for 50 days without access to a court, Mr Friedman said.
Timothy Otty QC, the barrister representing CC, claimed there was “serious wrongful conduct on the part of the security services or other agents of the UK overseas”. The latest Olympic Park security scare comes after two Muslim converts were arrested last month on suspicion of plotting an attack on the Olympic canoeing venue in Waltham Abbey, Essex.
The men aged 18 and 32 were detained at their homes in east London after being seen acting suspiciously in a dinghy at the sporting location on the River Lea.
Last week two separate anti-terror operations resulted in 14 arrests. Seven men were being questioned last night after firearms were found in car impounded by police after it was stopped on the M1 in South Yorkshire during a routine check for uninsured drivers, and a series of linked raids were launched.
Separately a seventh person - a woman, 22 - was arrested at a home in Hackney, east London, after six arrests made across the city in London by anti-terrorist police. In February, more than 2,500 emergency services personnel and civil servants took part in a drill which simulated a terrorist attack on London’s transport network during the Olympics. A Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said: “CF has been charged with five offences of breaching his Tpim. He is next in [criminal] court on July 27.”
Saturday July 7,2012
BRITAIN is facing its “worst ever” summer with cold wet weather ruining family holidays and blighting the Olympics, forecasters warned last night.
August is set to be a washout following a miserable July and the wettest June since records began – meaning summer is effectively over.
Gloomy forecasts suggest dire weather will continue as officials last night put Britain on flood alert after torrential downpours yesterday wreaked havoc.
As the Environment Agency warned of a “potential danger to life” with rivers swelling to breaking point in the Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales, Government forecasters were on standby to brief the Cabinet if severe floods strike.
The agency last night issued 51 flood warnings – meaning flooding is expected – and 135 alerts. Monsoon-like downpours hit 85,000 music fans at the T In The Park festival in Kinross, Scotland, and 28,000 Formula 1 spectators camping for the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone. Race meetings today in Nottingham and Carlisle were cancelled while play was delayed on all courts at Wimbledon – other than Centre Court.
In Leeds, organisers cancelled music festival MFEST over safety concerns.
Emergency services reported a surge of flood callouts, dispatched special operations teams and told motorists not to drive through floodwater.
The misery is set to continue with parts of the Midlands and northern Britain braced for six inches of rain – more than two months’ worth – in the 72 hours to tomorrow night.
Tony Waters, deputy chief forecaster at the Met Office, said: “We are expecting very heavy and thundery rain, with worst affected spots likely to be in central and northern parts.
“Some places could see around 100mm (3.9in).
“This could cause significant disruption – including difficult driving conditions and flooding in some areas.”
The Met Office said the washout will continue into August. A spokesman said: “A protracted spell of hot, sunny weather looks very unlikely.”
Forecasters MeteoGroup last night described this summer as “the worst since records began”. Forecaster Paul Knightley said: “This is as bad a summer as we can get in this country.
“It’s wet, cool and dull. It’s not wrong to suggest the first half of summer has been the worst since records began.”
Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said: “There is no settled fine weather on the horizon and August looks as doomed as July. It is a bitterly disappointing summer and already set to be in the top five wettest on record.
“The first couple of days of the Olympics are likely to be very wet indeed, and the rest of the Games unsettled.”
The predictions came after the Environment Agency warned of potentially serious problems across the north Midlands, far north-east of Wales and southern parts of northern England.
“There could be widespread flooding affecting significant numbers of properties and whole communities with a potential danger to life and a risk of motorists becoming stranded,” it said.
The South-west was expected to be badly hit after 1.6in (40mm) fell in half an hour in Somerset yesterday afternoon. A further 3.2in was expected in the region last night.
Craig Woolhouse, the agency’s head of flood incident management, said: “We would urge people to remain on alert for flooding, especially in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.”
Parts of the M50 in Worcestershire were closed yesterday due to hazardous conditions, with roads also closed in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.
Delays hit the London to Scotland East Coast main railway line and race meetings at Haydock, Beverley and Warwick were cancelled. More than 11,000 properties had a flood warning.
In Derbyshire, fire officers helped several people trapped in cars on flooded roads. Six people, including four disabled people, were rescued from a flooded caravan park in North Yorkshire. In the west of the county, Prince Charles braved the rain to visit Hebden Bridge, which was badly hit by flooding two weeks ago. In Southend, torch bearers were drenched as they carried the Olympic flame in heavy rain.
The AA dealt with scores of vehicles which had been driven through water. Darron Burness, head of special operations, said: “It’s often impossible to gauge the depth of flood water, so don’t even chance it.”
William Hill yesterday cut the odds on rain falling during the Games opening ceremony from 4/1 to 1/1.
(Some info courtesy of the NY Times)
classic of late disco-era American kitsch in the “Eye of the Tiger” mold, this tune kicked off the already-successful Moroder’s career as a composer of anthems for big sports events like the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 1990 World Cup. He even has a song in the 2008 Beijing Olympics album, the Chinoiserie-themed power ballad “Forever Friends.”
Koreana was a four-member group with aptly overdetermined ’80s haircuts whose Olympic tune anticipates the hook from the “Titanic” theme (Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”) by a good nine years. “Hand in Hand” has proven durably popular in East Asia ever since its release.
Queen frontman Mercury wrote the album “Barcelona” in 1987, after the city was chosen for the ’92 Olympics, and the opening track was chosen as the Games’ official song. The Catalan opera star Caballé performed on the album, and in this video she is lip-synching along with Mercury, who was ill with AIDS and would die in 1991. In 1999 Caballé performed this song again at the UEFA Champions League final at the Nou Camp in Barcelona, singing live while accompanied by a recording of the late Mercury
There was also a Spanish-language version of this Grammy-nominated song, which was written by Estefan and the hit-producing songwriter Diane Warren. The Spanish version, called “Puedes Llegar,” was sung by several stars, including Julio Iglesias, Placido Domingo and Ricky Martin.
Although she is virtually unknown in North America, Arena was and remains enormously popular in Australia. “The Flame” was written by John Foreman, a leading Oz pop composer who has gone on to become, among other things, musical director of “Australian Idol.”
For choosing what is without question the most avant-garde of any official Olympic song ever composed, the Athens organizers deserve kudos, even though Björk’s “Oceania” seems not quite able to fill the cavernous spaces of the Olympic stadium. What you can’t see on the video, however, is Björk’s dress slowly spreading out to form a 10,000-square-foot map of the world
SCOTT BRASH will be the first Borderer to compete at the Olympics since eventer Ian Stark won his fourth silver medal in the Team Eventing at Sydney in 2000, writes Fiona Scott.
The Peeblesshire horseman will make his Olympic debut at London 2012 after being named in Team GB’s showjumping squad.
The 26-year-old is the youngest member of the four-strong British team for this summer’s Games, which also includes Nick Skelton, Ben Maher and Peter Charles.
Brash will ride Hello Sanctos, owned by Lady Pauline Harris and Lady Pauline Kirkham, at the event, which will take place at the Greenwich Park arena from Saturday, August 4 to Monday, August 6.
And, having already notched wins in America, Italy, France and Belgium this year, Brash is keen to add the ultimate prize.
He said: “I am just so pleased, I’m really looking forward to it and getting out there and focusing on the job in hand.
“I remember watching the Olympics four years ago and never thought that I would be in the position I’m in today where I’m preparing for London 2012.”
Brash started riding at the age of seven and went to his first show when he was nine. He is the number one Scottish show jumper, ranked fourth in Britain and is also world ranked.
Based in Peebles, Brash has a yard where he breeds and trains his horses. He is supported by his dad Stanley and sister Lea.
Earlier this year, he was awarded the Tweeddale Sports Council’s Sports Personality of the Year award where he told us of his Olympic dream – a dream that has come true this week.
“Everything has happened so quickly and each year has just got better and better for me. When I think about the fact that I only got the ride on Sanctos at the end of last year and the way we have bonded along with the confidence I have in him, it’s quite remarkable,” he added.
“I just hope that I can now go out and do my country and everyone that has supported me and helped me get to this point proud; my grooms, vets, farriers, friends, family and in particular my owners, without whom this would have been impossible.”
Described as a dedicated, fully focused, talented and highly skilful rider Brash has been finding success his own way.
Accumulating a variety of honours through sheer grit and determination – producing his own raw young horses from novice to Grade A.
John Ledingham, international show jumper and young rider’s coach for Scotland said of Brash: “You can’t teach people to have natural talent, you can only refine it.
“Scott has real instinct and intuition for horses. He is most definitely a star of the future.”
Britain last won an Olympic show jumping medal in 1984, with their last individual podium finish coming at the Munich Games 12 years earlier.
Posted by EurosportAustralia......Greenwich Park, one of London’s grandest locations, has been selected to host Equestrian eventing, Dressage, Jumping and Modern pentathlon riding events during the London 2012 Games.
Established in 1433, the 183-acre Greenwich Park is the capital’s oldest enclosed Royal Park. It is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site and is host to the Prime Meridian Line, Old Royal Observatory, Royal Naval College, National Maritime Museum and Queen's House.
The decision to choose it as a Games venue was not universally popular, with some local residents forming an action group against it. However, Games organisers got their way after promising to protect the park and return it to its original state after the Olympics, by clearing away the six-kilometre equestrian cross-country course and taking down the 23,000-capacity provisional arena which has been constructed to the south of Queen's House for the dressage, jumping and modern pentathlon.
Located to the east along the river from central London, the park provides stunning views of the capital’s many landmarks, with St Paul’s Cathedral prominent in the skyline. Along with events at locations such as Wimbledon, Lords, Horse Guards Parade, Hampton Court and The Mall, London 2012 will visit some of Britain’s most iconic and historic venues.
Set against this spectacular back drop the temporary 6km cross-country course will see riders do battle over a number of water obstacles, slopes and hills, in events which are sure to provide wonderful viewing for television audiences and spectators who attend in person.
Once the Games are concluded all the temporary obstacles, the cross-country course and the viewing arena will be removed carefully, in order to protect the heritage of this famous park.
Public facilities: The Pavilion Tea House, which is situated in the centre of the park, serves meals, snacks and drinks, while in the summer there are four additional refreshment points. The park also contains a playground, boating lake and wild deer enclosure. The Games Mobility service will be present, plus there is a London 2012 Shop. There will also be London 2012 information points for venue and sports information, transport updates, lost and found services and pushchair and wheelchair storage.
History: As a World Heritage site since 1997, Greenwich Park in south-east London is one of the capital’s oldest established parks, dating back to the 15th century.
What’s On?: Equestrian eventing (July 28-31), dressage (August 2-9) and jumping (August 4-8); modern pentathlon riding and combined event (August 11-12).
How do you get there?: Greenwich Park is accessible by all forms of transport with the exception of the tube, although National Rail, Docklands Light Railway and the River Thames bus service are the recommended routes. There are three National Rail stations with access to the park — Greenwich, Maze Hill and Blackheath — as well as two DLR stops (Greenwich and Cutty Sark) and one boat (Greenwich). Also, there is a plentiful supply of local buses in the area. However, coaches and a park-and-ride service will only be provided for the cross-country section of the eventing competition on July 30.
Location – in relation to other venues: Greenwich Park is approximately six miles to the south of Stratford’s Olympic Park, on the south bank of the River Thames, not far from the North Greenwich Arena.
Location – on the tube: The London Underground is not the best option for this venue, so use the National Rail stations with access to the park — Greenwich, Maze Hill and Blackheath — or one of the two DLR stops (Greenwich and Cutty Sark).
Billy Twomey has been nominated for a place at London 2012 Denis Lynch is the second rider to be nominated for a place at the Games Horse Sport Ireland has nominated Billy Twomey and Denis Lynch to the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) to represent Ireland in show jumping at the Olympics in London.
The riders were selected by show jumping team manager Robert Splaine, and following the expiry of the deadline for lodging HSI selection appeals, the names of the two riders have now been forwarded to the OCI.
Twomey was selected with Edwin and Sue Davies's mare Tinka's Serenade (left), while Lynch will ride Thomas Straumann's gelding Abbervail van het Dingeshof (below right).
Ireland did not qualify a show jumping team for London, but two individual slots were secured by Twomey and Lynch from the Olympic-rider rankings.
However, under IOC (International Olympic Committee) rules these places are allocated to Ireland and any qualified Irish rider could be selected to fill the place.
However, after strong performances recently, Twomey and Lynch are now to be nominated to the OCI to fill the places.
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Damian McDonald said that while it was important to have success at the Games it was vital that there were no infringements of anti-doping or medication regulations at the event.
"Since 2008 a number of measures have been put in place to address what happened at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. Since 2008 over 300 horses ridden by Irish riders have been tested during international competitions by the FEI and all have tested negative which is as it should be," he said.
"However, we cannot be complacent. We have been working closely with the OCI to put the right protocols in place in the lead up to the games. The OCI /HSI monitoring group met with the riders in Dublin airport yesterday to ensure all possible further safeguards are put in place.
"The riders have gone out of their way to work with us on these issues and I know they are determined to ensure that Ireland and Irish show jumping is represented with distinction at the 2012 Olympic games in London."
Irish equestrian sport will also be represented by five eventing riders, one dressage rider and one Modern Pentathlete at the Olympic Games, along with four riders in the Paralympics.
Cazenovia resident Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden will be inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame this fall for her success as an equestrian. The only question is whether she will be going in as a three or four-time Olympic medalist.
Madden, 48, was part of the United States’ two-time gold medalist show jumping team and a bronze medalist in the individual show jumping event at the 2008 Bejing Games. On June 17, the U.S. Equestrian Federation announced Madden had two horses in the top six of the initial list for 2012 London Olympics. Her horse Coral Reef Via Volo is placed second and Simon is sixth. A third horse, Cortes ‘C’, is listed as an alternate. The official four-horse American team will not be announced until July 6. Barring a late injury, it will be her third Olympic appearance.
“It’s pretty unusual to have three that have the chance to do it,” Madden said. “Via Volo is the one I have the most experience with. My horse Simon that’s ranked sixth can do just as well, but (is) a little higher risk because we don’t know him as well. Cortez has just as much talent as all the others, but he’s a little young to be rock-solid at that level.”
Madden’s first gold medal came in the team jumping competition at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She helped the USA successfully defend its gold four years later in China.
Madden was born in Wisconsin but now lives on a farm in Cazenovia with her husband, John Madden. While she is the star of the competitions, her husband is in charge of the behind-the-scenes work.
“He’s basically the trainer for me and the horses as well as managing the whole program with owners and sponsors and scheduling horses,” Beezie Madden said. “We’re always looking for young horses just like basketball is looking for new recruits.”
The three other riders in the top four are McLain Ward, 17-year-old Reed Kessler and Rich Fellers. Ward was on the previous two gold medal teams but Kessler, who will meet the minimum age requirement of 18 before the competition begins, is new to the team.
“She has a very good trainer that she has a lot of confidence in,” Madden said of Kessler. “Hopefully she can go in there and do what she’s been doing.”
The final teams for each country are not picked yet, but Madden expects Germany, Switzerland, France and Great Britain to be the other top countries in the competition. Show jumping usually pits a rider and her horse against the field, but Madden enjoys the big-picture competition of the Olympics as well.
“When we get to the Olympic games, there’s 500 or so athletes from your country,” Madden said.
“You’re just hoping you’re part of that medal count.”
Although she would be the oldest member of this year’s show jumping squad, Madden has not ruled out trying for a fourth Olympics four years down the road.
“As long as these horses and the fantastic owners I have behind me, I think I’ll still have a passion for it,” Madden said. “Some of (the horses) are young enough to be competitive in four years as well.”
Joining Madden’s Greater Syracuse Hall of Fame Class of 2012 is golfer Sally Dee, basketball player and coach Pat Donnelly, football player Dick Easterly, baseball player John Johnstone, basketball players Bob Kallfelz and Royce Newell and lacrosse player Brad Kotz.
The Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony will take place October 15 at 7 p.m. at Drumlins Country Club. With the eight new inductees, a total of 198 men and women will have been inducted since the first induction ceremony in 1987.
The Olympic torch has ignited the equestrian community, with a little help from Stephen Colbert and the upcoming presidential election. Some of you may have seen Colbert’s tongue-in-cheek enthusiastic support of dressage, complete with red foam fingers. His sarcasm has brought attention to a sport not many would recognize otherwise and the dressage community has good-naturedly soaked up the attention like a ShamWow.
Politics aside, the equestrian sports are not as mainstream as other sports. In order to facilitate their emergence into the general public, what follows is some information on the three equestrian events, dressage, show jumping and three-day eventing.
Dressage consists of riders and horses performing exact and predetermined patterns in a flat arena, for which they are judged and awarded points from 0-10. The movements are long derived from maneuvers used in cavalry training for the battlefield.
The deceiving aspect of dressage is that, when performed correctly, the rider appears to be doing nothing at all. Meanwhile, tremendous body control, flexibility, strength and intricacy are at work. And it is work. It may look like the rider is “just sitting there,” but one ride on a dressage horse will have a nonrider discovering muscles that were previously undiscovered. It takes years and years of training for both horse and rider and the two must be able to work as one unit.
Show jumping is a timed event where horses and riders gallop a course of jumps up to six feet high in a sand or grass arena. The jumps are composed of wooden rails that fall at the slightest touch, so horses have to honestly clear them. Penalty points are assigned for refusing a jump, knocking rails down or going over the time limit. There may be a water jump which has to be jumped across rather than over, at a width of up to 13 feet, and there will be combinations where the horse jumps the first jump, takes one stride to a second and another stride to a third.
Imagine a track-and-field hurdler having to jump hurdles that are one step apart and taller than the athlete, and you can understand the difficulty.
Three-day eventing combines dressage with show jumping and adds cross-country jumping. In cross-country, riders and horses gallop a course over 10-12 miles of natural terrain (meaning hills, water, grass, ditches, gravel, banks) and over 30-40 solid obstacles up to four feet high and six feet wide. This sport is again an evolution of cavalry practices and is the most physically demanding and dangerous of the three Olympic equestrian events. Riders must wear protective body vests as well as helmets and wear arm bands detailing their medical information should they not be conscious after a fall. The sport is truly an assessment of accuracy, stamina and athletic ability.
On the first day, dressage, riders and horses perform a slightly less physically demanding test than the dressage-only horses, but it is also a mental test. This is like asking a NASCAR driver to take an SAT test right before a race. Cross country is on the second day, and should a horse and rider conquer that, show jumping is the third day. On that third day, both horse and rider are beginning to tire and now must take the mental aspect of the dressage and the physical aspect of the cross country and apply both to get around the jump course.
Event horses have to have concentration and relaxation to perform a dressage test, bravery to barrel around a cross-country course and precision to go around the show jumping ring. The equestrian events are the only sports where men and women compete equally. They are some of the oldest Olympic events, with a debut in the 1900 Games.
At this time, there are no Western riding events in the Olympics due to the international base of the other English riding sports. A horse is the only mammal, other than a human being, that sweats over its entire body.
Equestrian athletes are competitive in their sports well into their 60s and, amazingly, even into
their 70s. I hope that, like Stephen Colbert, everyone will begin to understand the equestrian events more and start to recognize the effort that goes into the sports. There really is no way to completely appreciate what these riders endure, as even other riders will never make it to that level. Most of us are destined and content to ride our horses around without judges or six-foot drop jumps into a pond or being timed.
However, we’ll still wave our red foam fingers for those that do.
Americans have had plenty of success in equestrian going into the 2012 Olympics, and this time they are counting on young and old talent to possibly clinch a third straight gold medal in the team show-jumping competition.
The age requirement for show jumping is at least 18 years old for the Olympics. Reed Kessler, 18 on July 9, is the youngest rider ever to make the U.S. team. She tied for first at the Olympic Trials in March and her horse Cylana will make an entry into the field.
In March, Kessler tied veteran Margie Engle for first place at the USEF National Show Jumping Championship.
Then there are the veteran riders who will be part of the American team: McLain Ward, Beezie Madden and Rich Fellers. Ward and Madden were part of the gold medal winning teams in 2004 2008.
The equestrian competition comprises three disciplines: dressage, eventing and jumping. Each discipline has team and individual categories with men and women competing against each other for a total of six gold medals. The equestrian events at the London Games will be held at Greenwich Park.
Dressage is scored by seven judges. Jumping, where riders have to navigate their horses through an obstacle-style course of parallel rails, triple bars, water jumps and simulated stone walls, is scored based on time and penalties. Eventing is sometimes referred to as the "three-day event" because it combines dressage, cross-country and a jumping finale.
Phillip Dutton, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who used to compete for Australia, will be making his fifth Olympic appearance and second for the U.S. in eventing. Dutton's 2008 Summer Games didn't go according to plan as he was disqualified from the individual event because his horse's boots were too heavy.
Germany's Hinrich Romeike won the eventing title four years ago, while that country also captured the team competition.
All eyes in eventing this time around will be on Great Britain's Zara Phillips, the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth.
Dutchwoman Anky van Grunsven has won the gold medal in three straight Olympics. All told, she's earned eight Summer Games medals, including an individual dressage silver in 1996.
Despite van Grunsven's success, it's been the Germans who have dominated the team dressage, winning gold in seven straight Olympics (the first two as West Germany).
Attention will certainly be drawn to Ann Romney's horse Rafalca, which is entered in the field of dressage with trainer Jan Ebeling. Romney co-owns the horse with Ebeling, who at 53 will be in is first Olympics. Ebeling and Rafalca finished in third place at the U.S. Equestrian Federation National Dressage Championships to gain a spot in London.
The Romney family has massive ties to the Olympic Games. Her husband, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was the CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Canadian Eric Lamaze overcame a four-year suspension earlier in his career after testing positive for cocaine and won the 2008 jumping individual gold medal, while helping his country capture the team silver. He was nominated to the Olympics again for 2012.
The Olympic hub also includes all the technical information around the Olympic Games, links to schedules and results, as well as all the Olympic news from the FEI and a regularly updated photo gallery.
“Each Olympics and Paralympics bring new achievements and the ever changing horizon of sporting enterprise, and we greet each new experience with anticipation and expectation,” FEI President HRH Princess Haya said. “But the Games are not only about the here and now and what is to come. They are also about what has been achieved; what limitations have been exceeded, and what barriers broken; what records have been set and what heights of endeavour scaled.
“In the coming weeks, millions of people will have the chance to see equestrian sport at its very best at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. To all our athletes and support personnel taking part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, I wish the very best of luck. We are all aware of the years of hard work that were necessary to take you to the top of our sport and we are immensely proud of you.”
The hub will soon be expanded to include biographies for athletes and officials at the London 2012 Olympic Games, as well as the history of equestrian events at the Paralympic Games since equestrian joined the list of Paralympic sports in 1996.
Watch out for the hooligans in London
Nick Skelton and Big Star
Great Britain's showjumping team for London 2012 will contain Olympic debutant Scott Brash.
Brash was named in a four-strong group alongside world number three Nick Skelton, 2008 Olympian Ben Maher and former European champion Peter Charles, on Sunday.
Like Brash, 52-year-old Charles will also make his Olympic debut for Great Britain, but he has twice represented Ireland at the Games.
Brash will ride Hello Sanctos, Charles has been selected on Murka's Vindicat W, with Skelton riding Big Star and Maher aboard his Olympia World Cup winner Tripple X III.
Tina Fletcher and Hello Sailor are the reserve combination for London.
Britain last won an Olympic showjumping medal in 1984, while their last individual podium finish came at the Munich Games 12 years earlier.
(Courtesy Horse and Country)
The all-male team will consist of:
Scott Brash (26) from Peebles, Scotland, riding Hello Sanctos, owned by Lady Pauline Harris and Lady Pauline Kirkham
Peter Charles (52) from Alton, Hampshire, riding [Murka’s] Vindicat W owned by Olga White, Tara Charles & Team Murka
Ben Maher (29) from Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, riding Tripple X III owned by The Quainton Stud and rider
Nick Skelton OBE (54) from Alcester, Warwickshire, riding Big Star owned by Mrs Beverley Widdowson
The travelling reserve is Tina Fletcher (47) from Farringdon, Oxfordshire, riding Hello Sailor
British team stalwart Nick Skelton will be representing Great Britain at his sixth Olympic Games (and in addition took part in the Alternative Games of 1980). His 2008 teammate Ben Maher will be attending his second Games; both riders were part of the bronze medal winning team at last year’s European Championships where Skelton also claimed individual bronze.
Although Scott Brash will make his Olympic debut in Greenwich, the Scottish number one is no stranger to team selections as a regular competitor on Nations Cups squads since 2010. With new ride Hello Sanctos, he bagged his biggest Grand Prix win to date at the start of 2012 in Florida, and has continued to impress this season.
Peter Charles completes the team line up and will also head to London as an Olympic debutant for Great Britain, but with the experience of having previously competed for Ireland on his past two Olympic appearances (1992 and 1996). The Liverpudlian won individual gold at the European Championships in 1995 and has an impressive track record to his name including three consecutive Hickstead Derby wins.
Waiting in the wings is Tina Fletcher with her long-term partner Hello Sailor, with whom she boasts a wealth of experience on the international circuit. The combination would make their championship and Olympic debut for Great Britain if called upon this summer.
Team GB Chef de Mission, Andy Hunt commented: “The athletes selected today have a good mix of experience and strongform leading up to the Games and with the support of the home crowd behind them at Greenwich Park I have every confidence they will deliver inspirational and exciting performances. Earning selection to compete at your sixth Olympic Games is a very special achievement and is a tribute to Nick Skelton’s quality, determination and consistency. I am sure the other riders and athletes across Team GB will learn a lot from Nick’s wealth of experience.”
Equestrian Team Leader, Will Connell commented: “This announcement completes the selection of the Team GB equestrian team for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The selected jumping team athletes mirror the other Team GB equestrian teams, in that they are a mix of youth and experience. This is an exciting team that is very much in the ascendancy in terms of their results and their horses’ competition experience."
Showjumping Performance Manager Rob Hoekstra (left) commented: “I am very excited. The decisions have been made and everyone has had a chance to show us what they can do. We are going to London with an extremely strong, talented and young team of horses. We have three 10 year-olds and one nine-year-old which I would imagine to be the youngest team of horses that you will see there. As a team, we go as a strong unit, fighting together with an aim of making Great Britain proud."
Scott Brash (right): “I am just so pleased, I’m really looking forward to it and getting out there and focusing on the job in hand. I remember watching the Olympics four years ago and never thought that I would be in the position I’m in today where I’m preparing for London 2012. Everything has happened so quickly and each year has just got better and better for me. When I think about the fact that I only got the ride on Sanctos at the end of last year and the way we have bonded along with the confidence I have in him it’s quite remarkable. I just hope that I can now go out and do my country proud in addition to everyone that has supported me and helped me get to this point; my grooms, vets, farriers, friends, family and in particular my owners without whom this would have been impossible.”
Peter Charles: “It’s good, I don’t usually get too emotional about these things but this is different – it’s already agreat achievement and a great honour for me to be selected to compete for Team GB. I’ll now sitdown with our Performance Manager Rob [Hoekstra] to make plans for our best preparation. Vinny [Murka’s Vindicat W] is a wonderful athlete, maybe the least experienced horse on the team,but he more than makes up for that in talent and ambition. He’s only a small horse but he’s a big fighter. We’ve got four good horses and four good riders so it’s a capable team; I’m looking forward to it.”
Ben Maher (left): “It’s amazing; it’s just a dream to be in the Olympics, the news hasn’t really sunk in. Making the team is one thing but the hard work really starts now, there’s a lot of pressure to live up to, hopefully we can pull everything together at the right time. I love competing on home soil, it’s lucky for me and it will be great that so many people who’ve helped me get where I am will be able to relate to that. Hugo [Tripple X III] is homebred which makes this extra special, the horse has only ever had me on his back in competition so by now we know we trust each other. Mike and Emma Phillips who I partown him with have been amazing. From our very first conversation they said it would be a dreamto have a horse at the Olympics. I couldn’t do it without them and it’s great to tick this box for them now. It’s such a massive honour.”
Nick Skelton (right): “Seventh time lucky hopefully; I’m really pleased to be selected. The horses are going well at the moment and I hope we’ve got a good chance although you never know what will happen on theday. Henry [Big Star] is a placid, easy going horse and doesn’t seem to mind the big occasions so Iwouldn’t think Greenwich will faze him too much. I’ve just got to thank Gary and Beverley Widdowson, the horse’s owners who’ve stuck by me eventhrough I’m getting on a bit in years. Having a horse at the Olympics has always been their aim. They’ve refused a lot of money and not many would have resisted the temptation to sell so I’m very lucky to have their support.”
The first round of the jumping competition starts on Saturday 4 August; the team competition running 5-6 August with the individual final taking place on 8 August. All four athletes compete as aTeam and an Individual, but only the three best scores will count towards the team result.
MUSE records Survival for London 2012
The British rock trio Muse has the official song for the 2012 London Games.
The song, “Survival,” is a thundering rock anthem that was being broadcast for the first time Wednesday on BBC radio. It will be played during the July 27-Aug. 12 games as athletes enter the venues and before medal ceremonies.
Muse frontman Matt Bellamy says the song was written with the Olympics in mind and “expresses a sense of conviction and determination to win.”
Muse was formed in 1994 and has sold 15 million copies of five studio albums.
Last month the trio carried the Olympic torch through their hometown of Teignmouth in southwest England as part of the flame’s 8,000-mile (12,900-kilometer) journey to the games
By Erik Jacobsen -The Courier-News
One month still remains before the start of the 2012 London Olympic Games, but Elgin’s Charlie Jayne already knows he’ll be in attendance with the United States Equestrian Team.
The U.S. will send five horses and riders as part of its show jumping team, four of which will compete during the Olympics. Jayne and his horse, Chill R Z, landed the fifth spot on the team after being named traveling alternate earlier this month, and they’ll be on hand in London should any of the team’s other horses have to bow out of the competition.
The designation as traveling alternate represents a major accomplishment for Jayne and his horse, who overcame a healthy dose of adversity before receiving the nod.
“I’m really excited to be there in London,” Jayne said. “I think we have four great competitors going and I’m really excited to support them, and the experience is going to be great.
“I was second alternate four years ago, so I missed going to Hong Kong. This time I’ll get to experience walking the courses and getting a feel for the atmosphere, so hopefully four years from now I can move up one more spot and get on the team.”
From the back of the pack
Jayne, 26, grew up on his family’s horse farm off Nesler Road on the far west side of Elgin. He now rides professionally, but he still resides in Elgin half the year when he’s not traveling to horse shows during the summer or competing in the Winter Equestrian Festival while living in Wellington, Fla., from November to early May.
Jayne’s specialty is show jumping, a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage and eventing. The competition, which is called a jumping class, is held over a course of show jumping obstacles, usually with many turns and changes of direction. The intent is to jump cleanly over a set course within an allotted time.
Since joining the senior show jumping ranks in 2007, Jayne has enjoyed a steady stream of success. A spot on the Olympic team with Chill R Z appeared to be within reach going into the Olympic Trials in March, but then disaster struck.
In the hours leading up to the start of the Olympic Trials, Chill R Z sustained a laceration while in his stall. The injury required stitches and forced the horse to spend two weeks recovering in his stall.
Unable to compete in the Olympic Trials, Jayne and Chill R Z were placed at the bottom of a list of Olympic hopefuls. Luckily for the duo, there was a chance to climb back up the ranks by competing in a series of observation events.
Jayne and Chill R Z competed in three such events, winning the $50,000 Idle Dice Stakes earlier this month in Devon, Pa. It was after the final observation event in mid June at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, that Jayne learned of his selection as the U.S. Team’s traveling alternate.
“It was kind of a roller-coaster ride for me,” Jayne said. “Moving up 30 spots to come back from 35th to fifth, I was really happy with my horse.”
And after dealing with Chill R Z’s unpredictable injury at the Olympic Trials, Jayne also knows to be on full alert should a similar issue befall one of the U.S. Team’s other horses.
“If anything freak happens, I’m there at the Olympics to be on call up until all four horses pass the jog inspection,” Jayne said. “Even after that my horse will stay there.”
Bright future ahead
Even if Jayne doesn’t compete in this year’s Olympics, there is a good chance he’ll get his opportunity in the future.
Show jumping is a unique sport in that age doesn’t play a big factor in a rider’s ability level. Of the four riders selected to the U.S. team ahead of Jayne, one is 52-year-old Rich Fellers and another is Reed Kessler, who will turn 18 in July to just barely sneak in over the Olympic age limit.
“This is one of the only sports in the world where you can have teammates who are 17 years old and 50,” Jayne said. “And women compete at an equal level as men, which is really cool.”
Another thing working in Jayne’s favor is Chill R Z’s status as a promising 9-year-old Zangersheide stallion, which makes him a rising star among show jumping horses.
“The cool thing about Chill is he’s one of the younger horses competing at the top level,” Jayne said. “Some great horses don’t peak until they’re 14 or 15 years old, so to already be jumping at this level and to be so competitive, it gives me great hope to maybe show him in the World Equestrian Games in two years and again at the next Olympics in Rio. By then he’ll be prime-time age.”
For now, though, Jayne’s focus is on preparing for his trip to the Olympics.
The U.S. team stayed at Spruce Meadows following the final observation event and will continue competing at the facility through the first week of July. After that the team members will part ways for about 10 days before reconvening in Amsterdam to train and get the horses acclimated to being on European soil.
Finally, the horses will ship to London on or shortly before Aug. 1. The Olympic Team Show Jumping competition runs Aug. 4-6 at Greenwich Park.
“We’re going for a three-peat,” Jayne said. “In 2004 the U.S. won the team gold and in 2008 they won the team gold. I think we really have a good chance of medaling again, and hopefully if the cards go right, on the third day we’ll hear that anthem play again.”
It’s no surprise that news of Hugh Thomas’s resignation as an official at Greenwich Park, in protest at the public lock-out at horse inspections, went viral. Equestrianism has made compromises to remain in the Olympic movement, but this seemingly minor oversight pierces the very heart of eventing.
We have heard a lot from Locog about the importance of bringing equestrianism to the capital – at previous Games, it’s variously been out in the sticks, separate countries and, in 1956, another hemisphere. But to enthusiasts this latest twist either suggests that Locog is not sufficiently interested in equestrian to have swotted-up on its idiosyncrasies, or does get it, but still doesn’t care. Either way, it leaves a sour taste.
The inspections (also known as “trot-ups” and “jogs”) involve each horse being led in front of judges who decide it is fit to compete. There is one before the eventing starts – in this case July 27, the day of the opening ceremony; Locog’s reason for not being able to cope with spectators.
The more critical one is the morning after cross-country, before the final show jumping phase, at 7.30 a.m, an hour before Locog wants to open the turnstiles.
It’s ironic this happens in the centenary year of eventing at the Olympic Games. The three-day event of Stockholm 1912 was based on the training of army horses, with the middle discipline – cross-country and endurance – aimed at testing bravery and agility for the battlefield.
The final show jumping was not meant to break records but merely show the rider knew how to conserve his horse and could come out fighting again next day.
Of course, the contemporary cross-country test is a whole different game, with the more onerous endurance pre-amble long since axed. But conserving your horse is still the key to success. Riders regard the jog as a separate skill and practice assiduously.
At Badminton horse trials (of which Thomas is director), fans arrive from first light to get the best vantage point. Burghley even installed a trot-up strip in its main arena because it was so popular.
Only a few hundred people might have wanted to watch the first inspection at Greenwich, maybe two or three thousand the second, but that’s not the point: it’s part of the competition, and because overnight leaders can be sensationally chucked-out if the horse is remotely sore, public scrutiny is the guarantee of integrity.
The specialist Olympic dressage and show jumping disciplines, which begin once the eventing has finished, have inspections on July 31 and August 2, 3 and 8. Unlike eventing, these are not “contact” sports, so horse inspections are a simple advance check of wellbeing, with reduced spectator appeal.
Three of them take place on days when ticket-holders are already on site. With all this publicity some might now, out of sheer cussedness, descend on these more routine jogs. Locog’s transport management plan does, after all, encourage spectators to stagger journeys home by hanging around in the park. That’s the second irony.
The third is that Thomas won the same battle at two previous Games when obligatory public access wasn’t in FEI Olympic rules. Now it is, but the rule is not being enforced.
In 1992, rather than miss the trot-up, British snappers Kit Houghton, Trevor Meeks and me were in a convoy that ran the gauntlet of Basque separatists blockading the road to the remote mountain destination of the Barcelona Olympic horse park.
Who would have thought that, 20 years later, it would be the organisers of our own Games that put up the barricades?
London 2012 organisers' last-minute decision to charge for a range of events previously declared free has come back to haunt them.
It seems every stage of the maligned ticketing process has had glitches and this is the latest.
Ticketholders to the road cycling time trial outside of Hampton Court Palace have received their tickets, only to discover organisers failed to use a spell check.
It turns out they will be attending the cycling road time trail.
The upside is that the tickets might have additional value now for collectors who covet such errors because of their rarity.
London Olympics Travel Poster - Preparing London for a Cavalcade of Visitors
London - Olympic mascot Wenlock poses for a photograph with Garrison Sargeant Major William Mott of the Welsh Guards during an Olympic Rings unveiling ceremony in the Terminal Five arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport
Bandsmen of the Irish Guards play during an unveiling ceremony for Olympic Rings in the Terminal Five arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport
A tug boat pulls a barge with giant Olympic rings that are 11 meters (36 feet) tall and 25 meters (82 feet) wide as they are unveiled on the River Thames in London
Students from Princethorpe College in Warwickshire form the Olympic Rings
Olympic Mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville
Business World Online is reporting......With the cost of hosting the Olympic Games soaring, the economic benefits of the sporting extravaganza have been called into question as the global economy faces a slowdown in growth.
Royal Greenwich Park, the National Maritime Musuem and Canary Wharf in London
But for Britain, which has fallen back into recession as it tries to bring its public finances back into order, the party may have a hangover.
This was the case for Greece: the stimulus from the 2004 Games was small, but saddled the Greek government with debt.
"The effect on GDP (economic output) is minimal, even for Greece," said Jean-Louis Chappelet, a professor of public management at the University of Lausanne.
On the other hand, the roughly €10 billion it cost to put on the Games swelled Greece’s debt by 2% to 3%, according to statements by IOC officials.
Worse, Athens is getting little use out of the facilities, which have for the most part been abandoned.
China is getting little use from its Bird’s Nest Stadium although Beijing does not consider it a white elephant, but as the symbol of a successful Games.
But with its economy still growing at over 7% China can afford letting the stadium stand as a tourist landmark visited by thousands everyday.
Rio 2016 Olympic Games Park master plan