EYES ON LONDON: Marathon, Referees, Living Legend

The Associated Press
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Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the men's marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)


Uganda has its first medal at the London Olympics — and it's a big one.

Stephen Kiprotich surged ahead late in the race to win the Olympic men's marathon. He finished in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 1 second Sunday, holding off the Kenyan duo of Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang. Kirui finished 26 seconds behind Kiprotich, while Kipsang, the leader most of the race, faded late but held on for bronze just ahead of American runner Meb Keflezighi.

On a warm afternoon, the marathoners wound their way through a scenic route packed with swarms of fans.

The Kenyans competed in memory of the late Sammy Wanjiru. Four years ago in Beijing, Wanjiru captured the country's first Olympic marathon gold. He died last year after a fall from a balcony during a domestic dispute.

— Graham Dunbar — Twitter http://twitter.com/gdunbarap



Argentina's loss to Russia in basketball's bronze-medal game surely signals the end for the "Golden Generation."

Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni were part of the team that brought Argentina gold in 2004 in Athens, upsetting the United States in the semifinals.

This wraps up a lackluster Olympics for the South Americans, who are already working to be better in Rio de Janeiro.

Argentine guard Pablo Prigioni kicked an electronic clock off the scorer's table at the end, reflecting the frustration of the loss — and perhaps the nation's disappointment.

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



Are ya blind, ref? Russia's sports minister is questioning some of the judging at the London Olympics, specifically in boxing and weightlifting.

Vitaly Mutko points to Irish lightweight Katie Taylor's 10-8 win over Russia's Sofya Ochigava in the women's boxing final on Thursday. "How can you give such scores? You'd have to be blind," Mutko was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency as saying.

The head of Russia's Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov, said the judges may have been swayed by the enthusiastic cheering from the Irish fans. Mutko, however, was less forgiving and suggested that the judges have favored the host nation's athletes.

"We see that a happy ending is being prepared in boxing," he says.



Did a political statement wipe away a South Korean soccer player's chance at bronze?

The International Olympic Committee is temporarily withholding a bronze medal from a South Korean soccer player who displayed a political sign after a game against Japan.

The action by the IOC remains in place until the player's disciplinary case is completed by FIFA, the international soccer federation.

The IOC previously told Park Jong-woo's team to bar him from the medal ceremony at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. South Korea beat Japan for the bronze medal. IOC President Jacques Rogge says FIFA must first decide on possible sanctions. Rogge says "we will take a possible decision of what will happen with the medal later."

After South Korea won on Friday, Park displayed a sign with a slogan supporting sovereignty over disputed islets that Japan also claims. The IOC and FIFA prohibit on-field political statements.

— Graham Dunbar — Twitter http://twitter.com/gdunbarap



There was an extra player as the American women's basketball team collected its gold medals: Lailaa Williams, the daughter of Candace Parker, star of the final against France.

"Lailaa told me she wants a smaller one," Parker said of the medal as she carried the 3-year old off the court. "She asked me where the smaller one was for her."

So are Parker and her husband, Brooklyn Nets forward Shelden Williams, raising another potential Olympic champion? "I don't know," laughs Parker. "She's into girly nails and all that stuff. She doesn't like basketball."

— Warren Levinson — Twitter http://twitter.com/warrenlevinson



LONDON — How loaded is that phrase "living legend?"

IOC President Jacques Rogge wants to set the record straight: Usain Bolt is an "active" legend and the best sprinter ever.

Rogge raised eyebrows earlier this week when he said the Jamaican runner needed to prove his greatness over more than two Olympics before reaching his self-proclaimed status of a "living legend."

On Sunday, Rogge relented a bit.

"This is purely a semantic issue," he said. "Usain Bolt is an active performance legend, he is an icon, he is the best sprinter of all time."

Bolt won the 100 and 200 meters at the London Olympics — the first athlete to sweep both events at consecutive games, and anchored the Jamaican team to a world record in the 4x100-meter relay on Saturday night.

After that relay, Bolt asked: "The next time you see him (Rogge), I think you need to ask him what Usain needs to do that no human man has ever done?"

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



Within seconds of each other, U.S. marathoners Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman were out of the Olympic race.

First, Ryan Hall dropped out around the 11-mile mark with a tight right hamstring. Then Abdirahman called it a day because of an aching right knee. Hall was among the favorites to contend for a medal, too.

"I felt like I was favoring my stride and didn't want to get injured," says Hall, who lives in Flagstaff, Ariz.

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



The United States looks loose. Spain looks ready.

The players have hit the court for warmups for the men's basketball gold medal game with decidedly different body language.

The Americans are laughing and joking, with LeBron James missing a dunk in the layup line and Chris Paul doing a little shoulder shimmy dance with Kevin Durant.

The underdog Spainiards look much more intense. Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka and the rest look focused as they shoot jumpers.

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



Andrei Kirilenko joined the Russian national basketball team in 2000 and slogged through more than a decade of pain and rebuilding.

It has all become worth it. Because on Sunday, Russia beat Argentina for the bronze medal.

Kirilenko, who will join the Minnesota Timberwolves next season, had 20 points and eight rebounds in the 81-77 victory and was overcome with emotion.

"It's been a long, long 12 years to get this medal," he says. "It's going to go in our history, our album, our memories."

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



On Sunday, after Argentina lost the bronze medal men's basketball game to Russia, Manu Ginobili sat at the press conference with a blank stare.

The 35-year-old didn't say definitively that he was done playing internationally. But his disappointment said it for him.

"It hurts deeply," Ginobili said through an interpreter. "We have a very, very deep wound. But that's part of sport."

Ginobili and Luis Scola are the two most responsible for Argentina's rise to prominence. They won gold in Athens and bronze in Beijing.

"It's very, very difficult for me to think about history and legacy," Ginobili says. "I feel that pain and quite possibly this is the last time this group will be playing for a medal."

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



We're outta here!

The Olympics delivered successfully, British Prime Minister David Cameron's taking a break. As is his deputy, Nick Clegg. So too will plenty of other Brits who've spent the past two weeks watching their athletes compete in the London sunshine.

Cameron is expected to leave Britain for a family break starting Monday, although his office hasn't released any details of where he's going. Clegg, the country's deputy prime minister, is also jetting out Monday — he's expected to vacation in Spain with the parents of his Spanish wife, Miriam.

Many other Brits seem to have had the same idea; Laurence Hicks, the director of tour operator and vacation rental company CLC Leisure, said he's seen a "massive upswing" in bookings for the post-games period.

— Raphael Satter — Twitter http://raphae.li/twitter



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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

"My pleasure," said Johnson, complying.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



EDITOR'S NOTE — "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.