Sun out as Olympic torch tours London
LONDON (AP) — The Olympic torch has begun its tour of London — and to everyone’s relief, the weather is cooperating.
After weeks of unseasonably chilly temperatures and miserable rain, the sun came out Saturday as thousands of people turned out to watch the flame begin its seven-day trip of the Olympic host city.
The torch arrived late Friday in the city with a dramatic entrance, abseiled from a helicopter by a Royal Marine to the Tower of London on the shore of the River Thames.
After a night locked inside the Jewel House of the 11th century landmark, the torch started a journey through London that took it from a historic ship to a shiny new shopping mall.
From the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the torch was carried to the Cutty Sark, a newly restored 140-year-old ship docked in the Thames.
Nadia Comaneci, the legendary Romanian gymnast who won nine Olympic medals in the 1976 and 1980 games, and former basketball player John Amaechi took the torch to the roof of the North Greenwich Arena, the venue for the gymnastics events and basketball finals.
“You know it doesn’t seem like it’s been 36 years ago,” Comaneci, the first female gymnast to be awarded a perfect 10 score in an Olympic gymnastics event, told the BBC. “It’s hard to believe that what I’ve done then people still remember. So I’m very honored to be here.”
Phillips Idowu, a champion triple jumper for Team Great Britain, later took the torch to the Westfield mall, Europe’s biggest, next to the Olympic Park.
Saturday’s torch relay also included stints from London’s youngest and oldest torchbearers: 12-year-old Chester Chambers, and 101-year-old Fauja Singh. Like most other torchbearers, they were nominated by their communities.
The torch, which has already traveled across Britain for more than 60 days, will continue to tour London’s streets until it ends its journey at the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony in the capital on July 27.
Discus thrower worked seven jobs to back career
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Before heading over for the Olympics, discus thrower Lance Brooks refinished a driveway in the searing sun to earn extra cash.
Maybe not the best way to train, but it pays the bills.
For every athlete out there well supported by sponsors, there are those like Brooks, who once held seven different jobs just to make ends meet.
His busy schedule didn’t leave much time for training.
Only recently did he scrap all but two of his jobs to concentrate on the discus — on coach’s orders. Actually, he met his coach, Steve DeAutremont, while working at a bar.
“Maybe after I get done with the Olympics, I can go and find a real job,” said the 28-year-old Brooks, who has a degree in environmental science along with a minor in business management and art. “I want to get on with a company where I can make a career out of it.”
When Brooks relocated to Denver five years ago, he worked as a bouncer, bartender and a barbacker (taking out the trash, restocking the cooler). He also worked Colorado Rockies baseball games, coached at a local high school, punched in at an oil-change service and did construction.
If he was exhausted after a long day, he wouldn’t train.
Or sometimes he would just throw with the high school kids, which was problematic because he kept tossing the discus over the retaining fence and into the parking lot.
“I was almost hitting cars,” said Brooks, who at 6-foot-6 and 252 pounds is built like a tight end, but never played football.
Early in his career, Brooks was primarily getting by on athleticism. He threw the discus in high school and again in college — once basketball season ended — but never really dedicated himself to the event.
One day, while Brooks was working behind the bar, in walked DeAutremont, a former thrower himself. They struck up a conversation, exchanged information and later got in touch. DeAutremont watched Brooks throw a couple of times and agreed to work with him.
Brooks steadily improved, earning a spot on the world team last summer with a third-place finish at nationals.
Shortly after his return from South Korea, his coach gave him an ultimatum — concentrate on the discus or DeAutremont was going elsewhere.
He found the time, fine-tuned his form and was all set for the U.S. trials last month.
Kobe the star when US basketball team goes abroad
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — They carry cameras and microphones, sprinting toward Kobe Bryant like Christmas shoppers who just spotted the “it” gift sitting on shelves.
Their questions come quickly, some in English, many in Spanish, and Bryant gives the perfect answer every time.
Yes, Spain is an incredible team that can pose problems for the U.S.
No, Pau Gasol isn’t getting traded from the Lakers as long as he is there.
The only thing Bryant can’t seem to explain to reporters is why he’s so much more popular than his teammates on the Olympic basketball team.
“I don’t know. I don’t know where it comes from or how that happens,” he said Saturday with a laugh.
Chris Paul figures Bryant owes it to the way he’s won and carried himself through the years — along with one other thing.
“A lot of it’s got to do, too, that he plays for the Lakers. I learned that, too, I learned that quick,” Paul said. “Everywhere you go, shoot, the Lakers, they never play a road game. Only time they might play a road game now is in Oklahoma City.”