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


The U.S. women's gymnastics team wasted no time showing why they're the best vaulters in the world.

All four vaulters do the Amanar, considered the hardest vault in the world. They breezed through the routine in Sunday's Olympic debut, and in qualifications, only the top three scores count.

So it was Aly Raisman's score that was thrown out — and every other country would kill to have gotten her 15.8.

Meanwhile, McKayla Maroney did not appear to be slowed by her broken toe. The reigning world champion in vault qualified for the event finals.

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter


Most national Olympic committees are giving their athletes financial incentives to win a medal — members of Malaysia's badminton team could even get a bar of gold bullion each worth $600,000 if they win the gold.

But for the hometown Brits, philatelic fame will have to do.

British medal winners receive no prize money from their federation, but the Royal Mail has promised to produce a stamp overnight honoring each of the country's gold medal winners. The stamps will be sold at 500 Post Offices in books of six for 60 pence (94 U.S. cents) each stamp.

Still, it could be worse. Some countries refuse to put you on a stamp until you're dead.

—Shawn Pogatchnik — Twitter


It was a Herculean lift — and Om Yun Chol is crediting former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Om joined an exclusive group of weightlifters on Sunday to have lifted three times their body weight in the clean and jerk.

"How can any man possibly lift 168kg? I believe the great Kim Jong Il looked over me," according to the internal news agency at the Olympic Games.

"I am very happy and give thanks to our Great Leader for giving me the strength ... It is all because of him."

— Luke Meredith — Twitter


The University of Florida marching band made an appearance on the Mall during the women's road race, entertaining a few hundred people suffering through intermittent showers.

The band had to wait nearly an hour to perform because of one particularly strong downpour.

An official at the cycling venue said that 216 members of the Gators' band made the trip from their campus in Gainesville, Fla. The band will return home in the coming days and begin preparing for Florida's first home football game, scheduled for Sept. 1 against Bowling Green.

— Dave Skretta —


Kim Rhode's family thought of everything before the London Games — even bringing their own Olympic pin for the trip.

To commemorate her quest to become the first American to win an individual-sport medal in five straight Olympic Games, Rhode's family made a small number of pins. The image: She's standing on London Bridge, larger than life, taking aim at an unseen target, with the U.S. and British flags below.

The family said it received approval from the U.S. Olympic Committee to use an image of the Olympic rings on the pin.

Rhode's signature is etched on the back, as are the years of her now-five Olympic appearances.

And since she's a shooter, it comes with a twist — push the button on the back, and yep, "bullets" (red flashes of light, actually) come out the barrel of the gun.

See a picture of the pin here:

— Tim Reynolds — Twitter


We are, apparently, talking too much. Electronically, at least.

The IOC says social media users helped cause problems for traditional broadcasters during the first big event of the London Olympics.

Television viewers watching the men's cycling on Saturday got little information about the riders' location and timings on the 250-kilometer (155-mile) road course. Broadcasters, whose commentators were also deprived of information, blamed the Olympics Broadcasting Service for the glitch with GPS signals.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams says the OBS service was jammed by "hundreds of thousands" of people sending texts, pictures and updates to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Acknowledges Adams: "We should have foreseen that."

The problem appeared to be solved for the women's road race Sunday.

— Graham Dunbar —


Want to see the Olympic cauldron? Got a helicopter?

London Mayor Boris Johnson had an answer for people who said, hey — wait a minute — I can't see the Olympic flame at all from outside the stadium. Just ascend the Orbit, the towering structure in Olympic Park with an observation deck at the top.

So we did. And what did we find? If you really peer out and stretch your neck, you can see a little bit of the cauldron and its flames, sitting in the distance looking like a small rubbish-bin fire. The mayor, it seems, wins on a technicality.

Plans are under way to move it to a more prominent location, albeit one still within the stadium.

— Yesica Fisch and Masha Macpherson


Take a close look at the fingers in this photo by AP's Chris O'Meara.

Many volleyball players use tape as support, but U.S. opposite Destinee Hooker uses it to keep her loved ones close.

In the team's opening match against South Korea, she spelled out "VET" on the tape, a nod to sister Marshevet Hooker, who was on the gold medal-winning 4x100 U.S. relay team in the Beijing Olympics. Destinee also wrote "STEVE" for fiance Steven Coulter. And she's not limited to her finger tape: Hooker has "Mom and Dad" written on her shoes.

— Anne M. Peterson — Twitter


At the Olympic Aquatics Centre, swimmers from developing countries populate many early heats and fans are applauding them all.

Jennet Saryyeva, an 18-year-old from Turkmenistan, took third in the first heat of the women's 400-meter freestyle Sunday at 5 minutes, 40.29 seconds, well behind the other two swimmers.

By comparison, leading qualifier Camille Muffat of France touched in at 4:03.29.

Still, Saryyeva says her time was a personal and national record, and she only began training for the event last year.

Saryyeva said Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia that borders Afghanistan and the Caspian Sea, has about 10 professional swimmers in all.

"Here it's just me and one boy and my coach," she said.

— Beth Harris — Twitter


He only learned to row three months ago and yet there he was, competing in the Olympics in the grueling single sculls repechage.

He slumped over the finish line, cheered on by the home crowd and with an announcer imploring: "You can do it!"

Nobody cared that he was about 100 seconds behind the winner.

Djibo Issaka is 35 and from Niger in west Africa. He received a wild card to the Olympics to "strengthen the principle of universal representation."

— Steve Douglas — Twitter


One woman stood out during India's walk through Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony. That's because she wasn't supposed to be there.

Friday night's party crasher was not wearing the yellow and white dress that every other Indian woman was wearing in the group, yet still managed to situate herself next to flag bearer Sushil Kumar at the front of the line as they walked around the stadium.

Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London organizers, says he plans to meet with the Indian delegation to discuss what happened.

"She was a cast member who clearly got slightly overexcited," Coe says. "She shouldn't have been there."

Coe also insists she posed no danger to the Indian team or the proceedings because, as a cast member for the opening ceremony program, she had to go through all the security measures to get into the park that everyone else does.

"She shouldn't have been in the opening ceremony," Coe says, "but don't run away with the idea that she walked in off the street."

—Jon Krawczynski — Twitter


When it comes to showing patriotism, Daniele Hypolito gets bonus points for originality.

The Brazilian gymnast wore eye shadow in the colors of her flag during Sunday's qualifying session — green in the corner, yellow in the middle and a big swath of blue on the outer edge. AP Photographer Matt Dunham caught her in a moment with her eyes closed to showcase the color display.

— Nancy Armour — Twitter:


One family from west London visiting the ExCel on Sunday are more than a little excited to be here — they couldn't get tickets in the British balloting system and had almost given up hope. Then friends back in Thailand told them about a Thai agency with tickets available, and they jumped on them.

"The price of the ticket was a little bit higher than from the British ticket website, but it is a once in a lifetime experience," says Vichayaporn Varasit, 13, as her family surrounds her and chants, "Thailand, Thailand!" The group of 10 are all heading into Arena 2 to see Thai boxer Saylom Ardee take on Gani Zhailauov from Kazakhstan.

"We live in London," Vichayaporn says, "but we are definitely here to see Thailand."

Check out the Varasit family here:

— Fergus Bell — Twitter


Now that's a photo op.

An Olympic technician got a special souvenir from Britain's Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, just after she rode her dressage test Saturday in the equestrian eventing competiton at Greenwich Park.

He stopped a relaxed and smiling Phillips as she walked back to the stables with her husband, British rugby star Mike Tindall, and asked for a picture with her. Tindall obliged by taking the camera himself and making the snap.

Phillips had just performed her dressage test in front of an enthusiastic and partial British crowd hoping for another medal for the home team. While Phillips' dressage score was respectable, she asserted that her horse High Kingdom was looking forward to jumping the cross-country course Monday, a specialty of his.

"I think he wants to get out there now," Phillips said to reporters. "He's a bit bored with dressage."

— Margaret Freeman

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: