Entries in Summer Olympics (10)


US, Iran Band Together to Save Wrestling as an Olympic Sport

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- Washington and Tehran have finally found common ground although it has nothing to do with Iran's rogue nuclear program.

Last week's announcement that the International Olympic Committee's executive board has recommended dropping wrestling as an event for the 2020 Summer Games is putting the U.S. and Iran on the same side.

Both countries want to save wrestling and will make an appeal to the IOC to keep it as an Olympic sport.

Iran's other strong allies, Russia and Cuba, are also said to be angered by the IOC decision, which could be reversed later this year although most Olympic observers don't believe that will happen.

While the U.S. and Iran can agree on this issue, there have been no diplomatic ties between the two governments in more than three decades.

Wrestling is a particularly big sport in Iran.  Tehran will host the Wrestling World Cup starting Thursday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


London Olympics End with US Leading in All Medal Categories

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Day 16 of the London Summer Olympics proved to be a fitting conclusion to the Games for Team USA, which finished the way it started by winning a couple of medals.

The U.S. men’s basketball team defeated Spain, 107-100, for the gold, but the game was much closer than that, with the Americans only holding a one-point lead over their opponent at the end of the half and the conclusion of the third period.

The other medal Sunday for the U.S. was a gold for Jake Varner in the Wrestling Men’s Freestyle 96k.

So after 16 days of competition, Team USA topped all nations in total medals with 104, and its athletes are taking home 46 golds, 29 silvers and 29 bronzes, the most in each of those categories as well.

China was second in overall medals with 87 and second place in gold medals at 38.  Russia finished third with 82 total medals.

Commenting on the U.S. accomplishment, Scott Blackmun, chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said, “We had very, very high expectations coming into the Games, and I think our expectations have been exceeded both on the field of play and off.”

The 104 total was the most the U.S. has won in an Olympics held on foreign soil.

U.S. swimmers dominated by winning 31 total medals, including 16 gold.  Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, won six overall and four gold to bring his record-breaking total to 22 medals.  Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte and Allison Schmitt each won five medals.

Track and field was right behind with 29 medals, as Allyson Felix won three gold medals and Carmelita Jeter won gold, silver and bronze.  There were also 18 instances of national-best performances by individuals and relays.

Other highlights included the American men’s and women’s basketball teams winning their gold medal games, and U.S. women’s beach volleyball teams taking gold and silver.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


First Ever Female Saudi Olympian Competes in London 2012 Games

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Girls are not allowed in physical education classes in Saudi Arabia.  They are not allowed to play in sports clubs -- or even walk through the clubs' front doors.

But none of that stopped Wojdan Shahrkhani from making history Friday morning when she became the first ever female Saudi Olympian.

Never mind that the 16-year-old looked shaky and unsure in her first judo bout, which she lost in just 82 seconds.  Never mind that she left the mat without bowing, as is customary after matches, and needed to be reminded to do so.

She competed.  And that means in defeat, she was victorious -- both for her deeply conservative homeland and for the Olympics itself.

At the 1996 Atlanta Games, 26 countries had no female participants. Only 16 years later, this is the first Olympics where every team has women -- and where women will compete in all 26 sports. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei were the last holdouts.

"This is a major boost for gender equality," said International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, who has described Shahrkhani as a "symbol" of progress.

In her home country, Shahrkhani's participation has been hotly debated and was not guaranteed.  She and her fellow female Olympian Sarah Attar have been labeled "Olympic whores" online.

"Sports should be first and foremost for men.  Women should follow," argued Saudi Cleric Ahmad Al-Mu'abi during a recently televised debate, according to a clip posted by the pro-Israeli media monitoring firm, Memri.  "It is in women's nature to keep themselves covered up.  Whoever thinks that we restrict women is wrong.  The woman is a hidden gem.  Anybody who has a gem tries to protect it, so that nobody sees it or covets it."

But on Friday, even after losing quickly, she received support online.

Shaherkani is at the Games not because she met the qualifying standard for participation, but because the IOC facilitates participation by underrepresented countries.  Whereas her competitors are black belts, she is a mere blue belt.

"They are champions she is fighting, and my daughter, for her it is the first competition," her father, who is also her coach, said in the arena Friday.

Attar, the second ever female Saudi athlete, will compete in the 800m run on Aug. 8.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


WATCH: London Mayor Gets Stuck on Zipline During Olympics

LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages(LONDON) -- If ziplining ever debuts as an Olympic sport, don’t expect to see London Mayor Boris Johnson on the medal stand.

The eccentric mayor, who has seemingly been everywhere to promote the Olympics now underway in his city, found himself stuck dangling in the air this afternoon after taking the inaugural ride down a zipline set up in Victoria Park to promote the Games.

Johnson, 48, a member of the country’s Conservative party, gamely strapped on a harness and a hard hat and attempted to sail down the 1,050-foot line while also holding two Union Jack flags.  Instead of achieving a gold medal-worthy landing, Johnson ground to a halt about 65 feet from the end of the line and was stuck dangling above a crowd full of bemused and bewildered spectators below.

“Get me a rope, get me a ladder,” Johnson is heard saying in video captured by British news agency ITV. “I think the brakes got stuck.”

Eyewitnesses told U.K. newspaper The Telegraph that Johnson was stranded for nearly five minutes before park officials successfully pulled him down to the end of the line with a rope.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


2012 Olympics: Opening Ceremony to Bring Spectacle, Surprises

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Now that the Olympic torch has made its way through the streets of London, even passing Prince William and Kate Middleton at Buckingham Palace, excitement is building for the opening ceremony.  But as the world watches, the one question on everyone's mind is: Who will light the cauldron at Olympic stadium?

Thousands of people packed London's Hyde Park as the torch made its last stop before the official start of the games Friday night.  Nearly 60,000 spectators, including the world's top athletes, will be on hand to witness the extravaganza.

At the helm of the ceremony is British film director Danny Boyle, who won the 2008 best director Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire.  Boyle plans to use the ceremony to celebrate England's history, offering a healthy dollop of the country's pop cultural exports, from Shakespeare to James Bond.  Current 007 Daniel Craig is expected to attend Friday night's spectacle.

Early reports indicate that the ceremony will include a pastoral countryside and 120 farm animals -- including 70 sheep, 12 horses and three cows.  There is also talk of a fake rain cloud, for effect.  The full look is said to resemble a live movie, taking viewers through years of Great Britain's history.

On Friday morning, glimpses of last-minute rehearsals with Boyle's cast and crew of 10,000 could be seen, while the 86-track play list for the three-hour show leaked to the British press.

Included on the track are some British staples -- "God Save the Queen" will be heard, as Queen Elizabeth II will be in attendance.  But Boyle, also known for edgier fare such as 1996's Trainspotting, has opted to use the grimier Sex Pistols version of the anthem.

There will also, of course, be plenty of Beatles selections, and Paul McCartney will lead the crowd in a sing-along.

Although the masses won't know who will be the last person to hold the Olympic torch and light the cauldron, excitement is at a fever pitch, particularly among some of the athletes, who have spent years working and sweating and hoping to reach this moment.

"I'm ecstatic," U.S. boxer James Herring told ABC News.  "I'm really excited just to see the performers and the show that they will be putting on for us, so I'm just -- really just filled with energy right now."

American diver Abby Johnston said that the ceremony will make her realize her dream is finally coming true.

"I'm still like -- is this real?  Am I really here?" she said.  "And I think being at the opening ceremonies will really make it sink in."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


2012 Olympics: Michelle Obama Cheers on US Team in London

Adam Jacobs/Getty Images(LONDON) -- First lady Michelle Obama spoke to members of the U.S. Olympic team on Friday, telling the athletes that she's thrilled to be in London to cheer them on in person.

"I'm proud to have the chance to cheer you guys on in person for the very first time in my life -- in person!  At the Olympics!  In London!  And then I'm gonna be cheering back home too after they send me away," Mrs. Obama said.

The first lady told the Olympians everybody back home is watching and cheering them on.

"We're all proud of you all. We really are. You've got a country back home who is rooting for you every single second," she said, adding that they'll be inspiring millions of kids back home to get off the couch and take up a sport.

"Whatever happens here think of all that you're gonna be doing for millions of kids. Right this second. Just by the fact that you've worked so hard and got here yourselves," Mrs. Obama said.

Along with the encouragement, the first lady also had one piece of advice for the athletes: "This only happens every few years so, try to have fun, try to breathe a little bit, but also win right?  In the end, winning is good."

The 2012 Olympic Games officially kick off on Friday with an opening ceremony scheduled at 4 p.m. ET.  Earlier in the day, Britain's iconic clock tower chimed non-stop for three minutes to mark the event.  It was the first time Big Ben rang outside its normal schedule since 1952, when it rang for the funeral of King George the 6th.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Saudi Woman's Headscarf Could Keep Her from Competing in Olympics

MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Saudi women's judo competitor Wodjan Shahrkhani is fast becoming the most sympathetic figure at the London Summer Olympics.

She's just one of two women Saudi Arabia sent to the Games and has had to overcome slurs from Saudi men at home who say that women in sports are immoral.  In fact, her country still bans females from taking part in athletic events inside the kingdom.

So what happens when Shahrkhani arrives in London?  The International Judo Federation says she cannot wear her traditional head scarf during competition, claiming it can pose a hazard to herself and her opponent.

This could wind up being a deal breaker for Shahrkhani and her participation in the Olympics, which activist Minky Worden with Human Rights Watch calls a travesty, especially since it would only leave one other woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in the Games.

Worden says, "The world should cheer Wodjan Shahrkhani and Sarah Attar as they make history in London, but we must also remember millions of women and girls inside Saudi Arabia who can only watch from the sidelines."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Female Olympians Fly Coach While Men Go Business Class

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- When the Japanese women’s soccer team set out on their quest for Olympic gold, they found themselves at a disadvantage before the games even began: They were jammed into economy class on a grueling flight to Europe, behind the men’s national team seated in the roomy business class section of the plane.

“Age wise, we are older, so it probably should have been the other way around,” team star Homare Sawa joked.

Sawa, who will be competing in her fourth Olympic games, may have brushed off the airline snub, but the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) is taking some heat for the mishap, especially since the women known as “Nadeshiko” are ranked number three in the world and considered gold medal hopefuls.

The team became national heroes last summer after they beat a heavily favored U.S. team to take home the Women’s World Cup, lifting a country reeling from a catastrophic tsunami and nuclear disaster.  Thousands of adoring fans greeted the athletes at the airport upon their return home from Germany.  The women were showered with endorsement deals, and became the first sports team to win the people’s honor award from the government.

The men, on the other hand, are ranked number 20 in the world and considered long shots for medals in London.

“When we won the World Cup, we returned home on business class seats,” Sawa pointed out.

The Australian women’s basketball team received similar “second class treatment” on their way to the Olympics, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.  The women, known as the Opals, were seated in premium economy class, while the men’s team, the Boomers, sat in business.  The Opals have taken silver at the last three Olympics, while the Boomers have never medaled.

“Different factors are taken into account when organizing travel arrangements for our national teams, height and size being a primary consideration,” a Basketball Australia spokeswoman told the Herald.  “For example, the average height of our male basketball players is 200.2cm.  The average height of our female basketball players is 183cm.”

The JOC says most of the Japanese Olympians are required to fly coach as amateurs, though exceptions are made for larger athletes.  The men’s soccer team, who have professional status, have been traveling in business class seats since the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

Sawa, who was named the FIFA women’s world player of the year in 2011, said she planned to use the World Cup experience and the recent snub as motivation.

“We hope to produce the same results this time, so we can get the same kind of treatment,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report: Supermodels, Top Musicians to Close London Olympics

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The crème of British fashion models will strut their stuff in front of the world during the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Games, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  

Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Lily Cole, Stella Tennant, Lily Donaldson and Georgia May Jaffer will be wearing clothes designed by famed British designers Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Sarah Burton for the late Alexander McQueen.

The parade will form part of "A Symphony of British Music,” and will be directed by Kim Gavin, who also directed the 2007 Princess Diana memorial concert, reports The Mirror.  The show’s music will reportedly span from the classical composer, Edward Elgar, to pop star Adele, and will also include Annie Lennox, George Michael, Ray Davies and Pet Shop Boys.

Both Paul McCartney and Elton John are rumored to be playing at the closing ceremony, where all the performers will receive one pound sterling -- about $1.56 -- for their services.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UK Places Anti-Aircraft Missiles Atop Homes As Summer Olympics Near

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The British government confirmed Tuesday that it had placed missile batteries at six sites around London in advance of the upcoming Summer Olympics, including atop two apartment buildings where residents had previously expressed reservations about hosting the anti-aircraft weapons.

"Whilst there is no reported threat to the London Olympics," said Defense Secretary Phillip Hammond in a statement, "the public expects that we put in place a range of measures aimed at ensuring the safety and security of this once-in-a-generation event. Ground-based air defense systems will form just one part of a comprehensive, multi-layered air security plan which, I believe, will provide both reassurance and a powerful deterrent."

In addition to the Rapier and High-Velocity missile batteries, the government will also station a Royal Navy helicopter carrier in the River Thames and station Royal Air Force jets and army helicopters nearby.

Residents of the Fred Wigg Tower and the Tower Hamlets, which will host High-Velocity missiles, had expressed concern about the batteries when the government made a test deployment of the missiles atop their buildings in early May. "I'm not sure I can sleep in a house knowing there are missiles on the roof," journalist and Tower Hamlets resident Brian Whelan told ABC News in May.

Said Secretary Hammond, "A small number of activists object to the deployment of these defensive measures and a legal challenge to the Government's decision to deploy ... has been initiated. The Ministry of Defense will defend these proceedings vigorously and is confident of defeating them."

Additional anti-aircraft missile batteries are in place in farmland and hills east and south of London. The Olympic complex is north of the Thames and east of central London near the Stratford and West Ham mass transit stations.

"Our focus is to deliver and Olympic and Paralympic Games that London, the U.K. and the world can enjoy," said Home Secretary Theresa May. "This is the biggest sporting event in the world, and with that comes the huge responsibility to deliver it safely and securely. ... We will leave nothing to chance."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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