EYES ON LONDON: Smurf turf and a shower mishap

The Associated Press
Germany's Mandy Haase, right, and United States' Paige Selenski battle for the  ball during the women's hockey preliminary match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 29, 2012, in London. Germany won 2-1. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
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Germany's Mandy Haase, right, and United States' Paige Selenski battle for the ball during the women's hockey preliminary match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 29, 2012, in London. Germany won 2-1. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

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

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SMURF TURF

For the first time, field hockey is being played on shocking blue turf at the London games. Designers behind the idea claim the game is somehow faster on blue, made famous stateside by Boise State's football team.

Australian and South African men who played on it Monday morning say they only notice a difference when watching on TV.

The switch from green is going to take some getting used to for spectators at Riverbank Arena.

Imagine watching Michael Phelps plunge into a purple pool or LeBron James dribble on a green court.

Even more eye-opening to some was the hot pink border to the field. "It's a little bit extreme," says Andy Sugden, a Londoner.

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

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A WAY WITH FISTS — AND WORDS

The biggest character on the Irish boxing team is also the smallest.

John Joe Nevin, a bantamweight, is a member of Ireland's homegrown Gypsy community, known as the travellers. They're renowned for underground bare-knuckle fighting contests.

The 5-foot-9 (1.80 m) Nevin has a refreshingly direct approach both inside the ring and out.

Following his opening 21-6 win versus Denmark's Dennis Ceylan, Nevin was asked a series of increasingly intricate questions about how he managed to score particular points. One journalist, unsatisfied with the explanations, asked Nevin if he knew how the scoring system worked.

His reply: "You just want to hit him more times than he hits you, and you're grand."

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

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ATHLETES AND SPONSORSHIP

The Twitter hashtag used by athletes upset at not being able to honor their professional sponsors is "WeDemandChange2012."

The IOC has seen the tweets and seems unmoved.

Sanya Richards-Ross is one of the U.S. athletes who are part of a Twitter campaign demanding changes in Olympic Rule 40 — which, among other things, does not permit athletes "to promote any brand, product or service within a posting, blog or tweet or otherwise on any social media platforms or on any websites."

Asked about the Twitter campaign, IOC spokesman Mark Adams referred to the upset athletes as ones who are "lucky enough" to have high-profile sponsorship.

"This lasts for one month," Adams said. "We have a huge number, some 10,500 athletes, who understand why we do that."

Rule 40 is intended to protect official Olympic sponsors, as IOC President Jacques Rogge made clear this month: "Our position is very clear. We have to protect the sponsors because otherwise there is no sponsorship and without sponsorship there is no games."

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

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THAT WASN'T A GOOD IDEA

Sleeping with it under your pillow, maybe. But taking your medal into the shower?

Really?

Brazil's Felipe Kitadai says it was done in humor (he just didn't want to put it down.) But the bronze he won in judo fell as he was trying to protect it from getting wet. The part which holds the string broke and it's now dented.

Now he's asking for a new one.

— Tales Azzoni — Twitter http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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BIRTHDAY BRIGADE

Happy 35th Birthday, Misty May-Treanor. Don't celebrate too much, you've got an Olympic beach volleyball match against the Czech Republic at 11 p.m.

The international governing body tells us that there are six athletes in the beach volleyball competition who will celebrate birthdays during the tournament. Fellow American Jennifer Kessy turns 31 on Tuesday, when she'll play the Netherlands.

Also celebrating birthdays in the sand: Janis Smedins of Latvia (25), Paolo Nicolai of Italy (24), Stefanie Schwaiger of Austria (26) and Louise Bawden of Australia (31).

— Jimmy Golen — Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jgolen

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TICKETS, TICKETS, TICKETS

A large portion of Monday's daily Olympic organizing committee briefing was spent discussing one subject: tickets.

London organizers have gone to international federations to reclaim unused tickets, which have become a bit of an embarrassment because of swaths of empty seats at several venues through the first few days.

The reclaimed tickets will be sold daily on Ticketmaster — but to Britain residents only.

"We've said from the beginning anything available will go to the British public, and that's what we'll continue to do," said London organizing committee Jackie Brock-Doyle. "Clearly the demand is there, and we don't need to worry about them not being sold. We sold 3,000 tickets overnight."

Organizers also had to open a dedicated will-call window in the athletes village because of long lines that apparently caused some parents to miss their children's swimming events on Sunday.

Organizers say that with more than 10,000 athletes to serve and the "enormous demand" for tickets, they are making adjustments as issues arise.

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

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WHERE ARE MY KEYS?

The London Organizing Committee saw no humor in a lost set of keys that required a change of locks at Wembley Stadium.

The set of keys were misplaced before the games began, and Scotland Yard has acknowledged it is to blame.

Asked during Monday's daily briefing what had happened, LOCOG spokeswoman Jackie Brock-Doyle gave few details.

"We changed the locks," was all she offered during he formal portion of the briefing.

Asked for more information, Brock-Doyle was curt. "They got lost. I don't know. The police lost them," she snapped, then rolled her eyes. "The locks were changed. I don't know what more you'd like me to say."

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

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FORESHADOWING OR WISHFUL THINKING?

Volunteers at the O2 Arena are practicing for the medal ceremony for tonight's men's gymnastics team final, and their pick for the gold was — no surprise — Britain. The U.S. men were "silver medalists," with Russia getting the "bronze." Who will really go home with the hardware? Tune in in a few hours.

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

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BORIS GOOD ENOUGH?

The early returns are in. Britain's biggest winner from the London Games may not be an athlete, but the city's mop-haired, brilliantly bumbling mayor, Boris Johnson.

Long seen in some Conservative Party quarters as a badly concealed oddball, Johnson's political star is soaring amid the Olympic limelight. His loose-cannon loquaciousness is popping up everywhere as he offers self-deprecating jokes alongside bikini-clad volleyballers and at Queen Elizabeth's side as she tours Olympic venues.

His unique mix of qualities — simultaneously posh and unpolished, capable of mind-boggling erudition one moment and the most crowd-pleasing barb the next — seems to be touching a popular nerve.

The right-wing Mail on Sunday is lauding Johnson as the ultimate political exemplar of "a nation unafraid to take risks or laugh at itself." The left-wing Independent sees "the beginnings of a Churchillian stature" in Johnson and credits him with "the size of personality that is waiting for a crisis that will summon him to greatness."

And the Independent even carried a poll Monday among Conservative members identifying Boris as the party's most attractive successor to the incumbent prime minister, David Cameron.

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

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HATS ON

After 200 years, it seemed just about time for a fresh hat for Admiral Nelson, the hero honored in Trafalgar Square.

Nelson's column, one of London's most famous landmarks, received new headgear on Monday, with a snappy bicorn made by the same company that designed hats for the admiral lo those many years ago. Lock & Co, the oldest hatter in London, decorated the hat in a Union flag and adorned it with an Olympic torch.

Nelson led Britain to victory over the combined fleets of France and Spain in the Battle of Trafalgar, but was mortally wounded in the confrontation that secured Britain's naval supremacy in 1805.

One wonders what Nelson would think of this one. Certainly more colorful this time around.

— Danica Kirka — http://twitter.com/danicakirka

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WRONG NUMBER

Tunisia may have missed out on its first medal at the London Olympics because of bad math. Weightlifter Khalil El-Maoui was in second place of the men's 56-kilogram competition after the snatch but never showed up on the platform for the second lift, the clean and jerk.

Afterward, he blamed his coach for submitting an entry weight that was 10 kilograms too high.

"It was a mistake," El-Maoui says. "I should have started lifting at 148 kilograms but my coach entered 158 kilograms by mistake."

— Karl Ritter — Twitter: http://twitter.com/karl_ritter

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THOSE EMPTY SEATS?

The London organizing committee spoke Sunday with International Federations about empty seats at venues, and they've reclaimed tickets that do not plan to be used.

Jackie Brock Doyle says about 3,000 tickets were given back to London organizers on Sunday night for Monday's events and promptly sold out. About 600 of those were for Monday's gymnastics session.

Brock Doyle says organizers will continue to reclaim tickets from federations each day to resell to the public.

"Everybody is giving up what they can," she says. "we are trying everything we can to make sure those accredited seats are filled."

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

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NOT SO OAR-SOME

New Zealand's hopes of qualifying for the final of the women's quadruple sculls at the Olympic rowing regatta were dashed when the oar of one of its crew broke with around 400 meters remaining in the repechage race.

The Kiwis were third at the time — with four boats going through — when Fiona Bourke was left stranded on Dorney Lake. They finished last, 30 seconds behind winner Australia.

Bourke looked distraught as her boat crawled past the finishing line.

New Zealand was bronze medalist at last year's world championship.

— Steve Douglas — Twitter http://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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'WITH HANDBALL WE FIGHT'

"We have no army in Iceland, so it's with handball we fight for the recognition." — Gudmundur Gudmundsson, the coach of Iceland's handball team, after Iceland beat Argentina 31-25 in the Olympic opener on Sunday.

— Barbara Surk — Twitter http://twitter.com/BarbaraSurkAP

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EDITOR'S NOTE — "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item, and get even more AP updates from the games here: http://twitter.com/AP_Sports