EYES ON LONDON: Gabby Douglas back on balance beam

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By The Associated Press, Associated Press

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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GABBY'S GRAND FINALE

Gabby Douglas is back for her grand finale.

The American two-time gold medalist has a chance for one more title before she leaves the London Games, competing Tuesday on the balance beam.

Even Douglas wouldn't have expected to make the final in the event a month ago, considering she had been so shaky in training. A fall off the beam on the second day of the U.S. championships in June cost her the national title.

But lately Douglas has the highest scores of anybody on the talented U.S. women's roster. She is determined to keep that run going and finish strong after placing eighth — and last — in the uneven bars final Monday with a score of 14.9.

"I want to finish strong and I'm going to do as best as I can," Douglas said. "Fresh day. Leave on a good note."

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

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WHAT A JUMP

Nick Skelton, who returned after breaking his neck in a competition fall, led Britain to its first Olympic show jumping gold medal in 60 years.

Skelton, 54, fractured his neck in 2000 but returned to riding two years later.

"After I broke my neck, my goal was to get back to Athens in 2004 and then to get to here," Skeleton said. "When you have a horse as good as Big Star, you look forward to getting up every day and riding him."

Three members of Britain's four-man team — Skelton, Ben Maher and Peter Charles — rode clear rounds in a jumpoff to give the host team victory over the Netherlands on Monday. Saudi Arabia, a relative newcomer to the sport, was a surprising third.

The last time Britain won an Olympic gold medal in show jumping was at Helsinki in 1952.

— Margaret Freeman

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SWEET MOMENT

AP Television Writer David Bauder reports on NBC's broadcast of the Olympic games:

Sweet moment when the Dominican Republic's Felix Sanchez won the 400 meters hurdle gold medal. He took out a picture of his late grandmother, laid it on the track and kissed it. Those are the shots you don't want to miss, and NBC was right there.

— David Bauder — Twitter http://twitter.com/dbauder

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CANADA'S CANOE DYNASTY

Mark Oldershaw ready for his final event with his canoe, his paddle and a lot of family history.

The Oldershaws are a canoeing dynasty in Canada, with three generations reaching Olympic canoe finals.

In 1948, Bert Oldershaw was part of a flatwater canoe doubles team that finished fifth in a 10,000-meter final at the London Olympics — just miles from where his grandson is competing.

His sons — Dean, Reed and Scott — all competed at summer games across the 1970s and '80s. Mark, Bert's grandson, qualified for the final of the 1,000-meter C-1 event on Monday by finishing second in his semifinal.

"To do it back here in London, where my grandfather started the whole thing, is pretty special for me," Mark Oldershaw said. "It feels good to get the name back in the final again."

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

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IRISH KNOCKOUT

Monday's Olympics debut of Irish boxer Katie Taylor has transfixed her homeland.

Her 26-15 quarterfinal pummeling of Britain's Natasha Jonas brought thousands to a standstill in shopping malls and other public places. With a semifinal looming Wednesday and the final Thursday, Taylor is considered Ireland's best bet for Olympic gold.

It's no home bias, either. The 26-year-old Taylor is renowned as a hard puncher and is the reigning Irish, European and world champion in the lightweight class, a.k.a. under 60 kilograms (132 pounds).

Global demand by Irish emigrants to see the match proved so great that the live media stream by RTE, the national broadcaster, crashed midway through the four-round bout.

And in the most dramatic show of support, more than 6,000 people traveled from across Ireland to the beachfront of Taylor's hometown south of Dublin, Bray, to watch the fight live on a big-screen TV.

One grandma was seen repeatedly shouting to the TV: "Go on, beat the stuffing outa her!"

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

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QUICKQUOTE: TOUGH LOSS

"We've been playing really well lately. To come up short on what our goal was, it's a hard loss. It was a tough loss — the toughest loss of our careers." — American beach volleyball player Sean Rosenthal after he and Jake Gibb lost to Latvia in the Olympic quarterfinals.

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

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USA TOPS CANADA 4-3

It took a full 90 minutes, then another 30 minutes of overtime, then three more of injury time, but Alex Morgan's header gave the U.S. women a 4-3 win over Canada at the London Olympics.

The U.S. soccer team will now face Japan in the gold medal game — the same team they lost to in the World Cup final.

Canadian captain Christine Sinclair had a hat trick to propel the two teams into overtime. Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. put two in the net for the U.S. and Abby Wambach deftly scored on a penalty kick for a handball.

— Joseph White — Twitter http:www.twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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OLYMPIC PROPOSAL

She didn't win the gold, silver or bronze — but Britain's Holly Bleasdale is walking away from the Olympic pole vaulting competition with something pretty special: a fiance.

The 20-year-old pole vaulter has said she was disappointed by her 6th place finish at the Olympic stadium on Monday night.

Soon after her finish, Bleasdale tweeted that she was "devastated" and "sorry for letting people down."

But just hours later, her message on the microblogging site took a turn for the positive.

"6th in the Olympics and (at)bradshaaaw proposes to me :) epic day!!!" she wrote.

Her boyfriend, Paul Bradshaw, also posted about his excitement, saying he had just proposed to Bleasdale and she'd said yes. "Best day ever!" he wrote.

— Cassandra Vinograd — Twitter: http://twitter.com/CassVinograd

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JETER WANTS TO SEE

The U.S. women's soccer team can count Derek Jeter among their fans.

The New York Yankees star was following the women's Olympic match on TV in the visitors' dining room at Comerica Park in Detroit — until he had to go for batting practice before playing the Tigers.

"It's 3-3, can someone get the game on up there?" Jeter asked, motioning toward the video board that looms over the left-field wall.

Alas, the game wasn't put up.

At least the U.S. women pulled it out at the last minute in overtime and avoided having to go to penalty kicks. Alex Morgan's header gave the U.S. a 4-3 win over Canada.

The Americans now head into the gold medal game against Japan at the London Olympics.

— Larry Lage — Twitter http:www.twitter.com/larrylage

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GRENADA CELEBRATES

People danced, cheered and waved flags in the streets of Grenada after Kirani James won the gold medal in the 400-meter run with a time of 43.94 seconds — giving the small Caribbean nation its first-ever Olympic medal.

Hundreds of people had gathered at outdoor viewing sites to watch the race.

The government of Grenada has declared Tuesday afternoon a holiday to mark the feat. Prime Minister Tillman Thomas calls James' victory an inspiration to the country.

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BETTER BE ON TIME

Two American runners missed out on their chance to compete in 100-meter dash in the 1972 Munich games when they arrived late to the second round heat. An assistant coach had misread the scheduled start time of 1615 as 6:15 p.m. (It was actually 4:15 p.m.) Eddie Hart and Rey Robinson were co-world record holders in the 100-meter dash, but they were relaxing in the Olympic village when they saw their competitors lining up on TV and, despite their speed, didn't make it to the stadium in time.

— Source: "Pursuit of Excellence, The Olympic Story" by The Associated Press and Grolier

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WAITING GAME

American Michael Tinsley paced back and forth underneath Olympic Stadium, making call after call on his cell and doing anything else he could to stay busy.

The wait was agonizing.

Tinsley was ready to go celebrate his silver medal in the men's 400-meter hurdles. But he couldn't leave until Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic finished some media obligations. Tinsley was getting impatient, so much so that he started pleading with officials to let him get his drug test out of the way.

Eventually, they obliged, and Tinsley emerged from doping control with a piece of folded-up paper above his head.

"Got it," he said.

He still had to wait for Sanchez, but that test cleared the way for him to get to the party.

— Mark Long — Twitter: http://twitter.com/APMarkLong

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HERO'S WELCOME

Gold medalist fencer Ruben Limardo returned home to Venezuela to find dozens of cheering fans waiting for him at the airport with flags and balloons.

In tears, Limardo said: "I never imagined they'd receive me like this."

Limardo's gold medal was Venezuela's first since boxer Francisco "Morochito" Rodriguez won the light flyweight division in the 1968 games. Rodriguez was among the crowd that welcomed Limardo at the airport.

President Hugo Chavez announced last week that he will present Limardo with the country's highest honor, the Order of the Liberator, and will give him a replica of a sword once used by South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

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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

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