EYES ON LONDON: Hulk, Uzbek dolls, Spice Girls

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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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BUT IS HE A MARVEL?

These London Games have a lot of snazzy names out there, from Usain Bolt to Lolo Jones. But the winner for the best name out there has to be Brazilian forward Hulk. Just Hulk. With a name like that, who needs a nickname?

He is a reserve on the Brazilian team. But coach Mano Menezes inserted him in the 32nd minute of the gold medal game on Saturday after watching his team look lethargic in falling behind Mexico 1-0.

Hulk's presence was felt almost immediately, when he, yes, smashed a left-footed shot from about 20 yards out that Jose Corona had to lunge to save. That seemed to wake the Brazilians up, and they turned up the offensive pressure on Mexico for the rest of the half.

Just don't make Hulk angry, Mexico. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

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

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A MURAL FOR GABBY

Gabby Douglas is really big in her hometown. Really big and painted on a wall.

The gold-medal-winning gymnast has a giant mural painted in her honor in Virginia Beach, Va. And she loves it.

"WOW!!! This is amazing!! (hashtag)so honored," Douglas tweeted Friday from the Olympics in London, where the 16-year-old gymnast won two gold medals at the Summer Games.

The mural shows Douglas holding a gold medal with an American flag backdrop. It says "Way to go Gabby."

Media outlets report brothers Todd and Eric Lindbergh spent four days painting the 9-by-30 foot mural on the outside wall of a sports bar. Todd Lindbergh says he found out that Douglas was from Virginia Beach, and the idea behind the mural came the moment he saw her on television at a medals ceremony.

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QUICKQUOTE: ALL TOGETHER

Missy Franklin, U.S. swimmer who has won four golds and one bronze at the London Olympics, on Sunday's closing ceremony:

"I am walking also. I am so excited. We didn't get the opportunity to do opening because I swam the very next day .... We're all going to get ready together tomorrow. I think it is the perfect way to end the entire journey."

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

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COLLEGE OR PRO?

College or cash? For now, odds are it's college, says Missy Franklin.

The quadruple gold-medalist swimmer, 17, is about to enter her senior year of high school. After that comes the choice that isn't as easy as it sounds — go to college or turn pro.

Speaking at a news conference with the U.S. Olympic Team on Saturday, Franklin says that as of now, she still believes "that college is what's going to make me the happiest girl."

However, she still plans to sit down with her family and weigh some options.

By turning pro, Franklin would be eligible to grab endorsement deals that could be worth millions. That would also take away any chance she has of swimming at the collegiate level. It wouldn't impact her appearance in future Olympics, however.

— Tim Reynolds — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds

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SYRIAN DOPING CASE

JUST IN: Syrian 400-meter hurdler Ghfran Almouhamad has tested positive for doping and has been disqualified from the London games.

Almouhamad, 23, provided a urine sample on Aug. 3 and it indicated the presence of the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine. Another test confirmed the result.

The athlete competed in the women's 400m hurdles event on Aug. 5 and placed eighth in the second heat of the first round.

— Rob Harris — Twitter http://twitter.com/RobHarris

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QUICKQUOTE: 'WANNABE'

"My roomate and I have been practicising our Spice Girls." — Judo gold-medal winner Kayla Harrison of the U.S. on looking forward to the closing ceremony for the London Olympics.

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

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HANDMADE DIPLOMACY

If there were an Olympic medal for hospitality, the Uzbekistan taekwondo team might just get it. Taekwondo matches usually start off with competitors bowing to one another as a sign of respect. At the London Games, Uzbek fighters have added their own twist: presenting each of their rivals with a hand-made Uzbek doll before trying to kick them in the head.

"It's a souvenir of my country so that they will remember this moment," says Akmal Irgashev, fighting in the men's heavyweight division. He presented the doll Saturday morning to Mali's Daba Modibo Keita, a two-time world champion.

Irgashev's teammate, Natalya Mamatova, offered a similar doll — a little mustachioed man in traditional dress — to top-seeded Anne Caroline Graffe in the women's 67-kilogram plus category. Irgashev said they've received T-shirts in return from European athletes, but never anything hand-made.

Still, the dolls weren't enough to disarm their opponents; both Irgashev and Mamatova lost in the first round Saturday morning.

— Maria Cheng — Twitter http://twitter.com/mylcheng

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WHAT A START!

Usain Bolt would've been proud of a start like that.

Mexico took just 28 seconds to get on the board in the men's soccer gold medal game against Brazil on Saturday. FIFA officials are checking to see if it's the fastest goal in Olympic history.

Brazilian defender Rafael turned the ball over deep in his own territory and Javier Aquino pounced on the loose ball. He made a quick pass to Oribe Peralta, who fired a low, right-footed kick just inside the left post.

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

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HANDMADE DIPLOMACY

If there were an Olympic medal for hospitality, the Uzbekistan taekwondo team might just get it. Taekwondo matches usually start off with competitors bowing to one another as a sign of respect. At the London Games, Uzbek fighters have added their own twist: presenting each of their rivals with a hand-made Uzbek doll before trying to kick them in the head.

"It's a souvenir of my country so that they will remember this moment," says Akmal Irgashev, fighting in the men's heavyweight division. He presented the doll Saturday morning to Mali's Daba Modibo Keita, a two-time world champion.

Irgashev's teammate, Natalya Mamatova, offered a similar doll — a little mustachioed man in traditional dress — to top-seeded Anne Caroline Graffe in the women's 67-kilogram plus category. Irgashev said they've received T-shirts in return from European athletes, but never anything hand-made.

Still, the dolls weren't enough to disarm their opponents; both Irgashev and Mamatova lost in the first round Saturday morning.

— Maria Cheng — Twitter http://twitter.com/mylcheng

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ROMARIO IN THE HOUSE

Brazilian soccer hero Romario is here at Wembley Stadium to see if the national team can do one of the few things he never could on a soccer pitch — win an Olympic gold medal.

For the first time ever, Romario is serving as a commentator for Brazilian TV in this gold medal game against Mexico in London. He is now a Brazilian lawmaker after a 24-year career as one of the most celebrated soccer players in the country's proud history.

That history, however, amazingly does not include Olympic gold. They've played for the Olympic title twice before, losing both times.

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

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SAMBA TIME

The party was rocking outside Wembley in the minutes leading up to kickoff between Brazil and Mexico for Olympic gold. No one throws a party like the Brazilians, and thousands of their famously festive fans are clad in the national colors of yellow and green and setting the tone for what should be a rollicking afternoon. Here's a shot: www.yfrog.com/hs3ahclj.

The Mexicans were also getting in the modd and are looking to score an upset. They're not letting the loss of Giovani Dos Santos to a hamstring injury dampen their spirits.

The game's just got underway.

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

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WEDDING BELLS

It's been an incredible Olympics so far for French women's basketball center Isabelle Yacoubou.

Her team is in the gold medal game for the first time and her boyfriend proposed after the team's quarterfinals victory.

"It's more than a dream come true, it's unbelievable" Yacoubou said. "I had no idea he was going to do that. We've been dating for 1½ years."

Her boyfriend held up a sign in the stands after the three-point win over the Czech Republic asking if she'd marry him. A teammate saw it and pointed it out to Yacoubou.

"I was crying it was so special," she said. "I said 'Yes, yes, yes!'"

— Doug Feinberg — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

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TOO MUCH OLYMPIC SPIRIT

Police say they've detained and cautioned a 38-year-old man who was caught in the act of daubing a British postal box gold.

The Royal Mail has been bestowing this honor on specific post boxes nationwide to mark the home cities, towns and villages of Britain's gold-winning athletes. But the public are supposed to leave this symbolic gilding to the experts.

The man in question got a little too much into the spirit of the Olympics at 2:50 a.m. in a south London neighborhood. The result: a post box now half-red, half-gold

Police have declined to identify the man but have quoted him as saying during interrogation: "I'm sorry. ... It was meant to be a bit of fun and part of the Olympic fever."

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

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GABLE HOPING FOR GOLD

U.S. wrestling legend Dan Gable, like nearly every other supporter of the American wrestling team, couldn't stop talking about Jordan Burroughs and his run to the 74-kilogram Olympic gold in men's freestyle Friday night.

In a brief chat at the ExCel Centre on Saturday morning, Gable said he thought the best match of the tournament came in the semifinals. That's when Burroughs broke a scoreless draw late in the third and final period to beat two-time world champion Denis Tsargush of Russia.

If anyone would know what good wrestling looks like, it's Gable.

Gable won Olympic gold without surrendering a point in the 1972 Munich Games. As a coach, he turned the Iowa Hawkeyes into a wrestling powerhouse with 15 NCAA titles.

Now he's just a fan hoping the Americans can bring home more than one gold from London.

— Luke Meredith — Twitter http://twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP

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ARGENTINA: WAIT IS OVER

Sebastian Crismanich gave Argentina its first gold medal of the games, defeating Spaniard Nicolas Garcia Hemme in the 80-kilogram division in taekwondo. Crismanich is the first Argentine to win gold in an individual event since 1948 — when the Olympics were also in London.

Argentina has traditionally relied on team events — basketball, field hockey and soccer — for medals. Argentina's soccer team picked up gold in the last two Olympics, but failed to qualify this time with a team that would have featured Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Through Friday, Argentina had one gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

Many Latin American nations are struggling to win in London. That could change in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, when the games will be on "home soil."

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

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WHAT YOU WANT

You know what you want — what you really, really want — to cap the Olympic Games? A closing ceremony featuring the Spice Girls.

Organizers won't confirm it, but the 90s "girl power" group have been photographed rehearsing for Sunday's night's show, so an appearance by Baby, Ginger, Scary, Sporty and Posh seems certain.

They'll be joined by a hit parade of British music acts, including The Who, George Michael, Muse, Annie Lennox and the Pet Shop Boys, for what artistic director Kim Gavin calls "a mashed-up symphony" of British hits.

The ceremony ends a Summer Games that have gone far better than many had predicted. Gavin says he wants the ceremony to be "the best after-show party that's ever been."

— Jill Lawless http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

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HEAVY MEDAL DAY

Don't blink, or you may miss a gold medal being handed out. It's medal Saturday, when a dizzying 32 golds will be handed out.

That's by far the biggest medal day of these games, with one more day of competition to go.

The highest-profile events on Saturday are the men's soccer final between Brazil and Mexico, the 4x100 relay featuring Usain Bolt and the Jamaicans and the women's basketball final between the United States and France.

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

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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.

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