Olympic Sports at 11:35 p.m.

Aug. 07, 2008, 11:40 a.m. (ET)

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BEIJING - The wall of gray around the National Stadium and across the city cut visibility down to a mile. With opening ceremonies set for Friday, Beijing's polluted air took center stage as the most visibly pressing problem for Olympic organizers who had promised to clean up the capital. In the end, whether the air quality gets better during the two-week period of the games will come down to the wild card of weather: rain and wind. By Tini Tran. AP Photos. AP Multimedia. MOVED.

BC-OLY--Jim Litke-080708

BEIJING - Lopez Lomong's life on the run began in the Sudan, and would have ended there, too, with just one false step. Two decades and thousands of miles later, it will slow to a walk for a few precious moments Friday night, long enough to carry the U.S. flag into the Olympic stadium. "Now I'm not just one of the 'Lost Boys,'" he said. "I'm an American." By Sports Columnist Jim Litke. MOVED.


BANGKOK, Thailand - China rejected President Bush's criticism Thursday of its human rights record and restrictions on religion, diplomatically telling him to stay out of its affairs even as he flew to Beijing to attend the Olympics. In a speech outlining America's achievements and challenges in Asia, Bush pushed for a free press, free assembly and labor rights in China, and against its detentions of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists. He said he wasn't trying to antagonize China, but called such reform the only path the potent U.S. rival can take to reach its full potential. He antagonized the Chinese anyway, setting the stage for an interesting reception when he attends the opening ceremonies Friday evening, takes in some events - including the U.S.-China men's basketball game - and meets with President Hu Jintao on Sunday after attending church. By Paul Alexander. MOVED.

- Also:

- BEIJING - OLY--Olympic Torch. By Henry Sanderson. AP Photos. AP Video. MOVED.

- HONG KONG - Hong Kong-Deported Activists. By Min Lee. MOVED.

- BEIJING - OLY--Koreas-Ceremony. MOVED.

OLY--SOC-Japan-United States

TIANJIN, China - Stuart Holden ended the United States' three-game scoring drought with a goal in the second half, giving the Americans a 1-0 victory over Japan on Thursday in the Olympic opener for both. The Americans entered the game not having scored a goal since a 3-0 victory over Canada in the semifinals of CONCACAF Olympic qualifying. By Brian Trusdell. MOVED.

OLY--GYM-Moving On Without Hamms

BEIJING - The reigning Olympic champion is gone and now the only other guy who's competed under the glare of the Olympic spotlight is, too. Yet the Americans insist nothing's changed. When the team medals are handed out next week, they think they can be right there with the Chinese. Good thing they're confident. They might be the only ones. By National Writer Nancy Armour. AP Photos. AP Video.


BEIJING - Roger Federer is thinking more about the number eight than the No. 1 ranking he will lose after the Olympics. The 12-time Grand Slam champion's birthday coincides with Friday's opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics, which are being staged on one of the luckiest days in the Chinese calendar. And he's convinced he can still salvage this season with Olympics or U.S. Open. By John Pye. AP Photos. AP Video. MOVED.


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BEIJING (AP) The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics will be quite a sight, a glorious, colorful event made for big-screen viewing Friday night. And, just about the time the torch lights the giant flame, you can watch the first medal get decided - if you have a computer handy. The pageantry from the Bird's Nest stadium actually will unfold Friday morning in the U.S., but NBC will save it until prime time. By then, it will be Saturday morning in China and the games truly will have begun. Seven medals will be decided Saturday - the first two likely to be settled while the ceremonies are on the air. By Jaime Aron. AP Photos. MOVED.

- With:

- OLY--Lookahead-Glance. MOVED.

BC-OLY--Ceremony Protest

BEIJING - Imke Duplitzer is fashioning her own opening ceremony, skipping the official one as a sign of protest against China's communist government. An Olympic silver medalist in Athens, the Germany fencer will be away from the 91,000-seat National Stadium quaffing a beer on Friday as thousands of athletes march in a two-hour parade in front of China president Hu Jintao and International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge. Competing in her fourth Olympics, Duplitzer is also one of 40 athletes in the Beijing Games who signed an open letter to Hu. The letter calls on the Chinese president to find a peaceful solution in Tibet, end China's death penalty and protect human rights like freedom of speech and religion. By Stephen Wade. MOVED.

OLY--Tim Dahlberg-080708

BEIJING - The Australians were talking about broken bones, black eyes and bad intentions. The Americans weren't biting, which was probably for the best because they wouldn't want to be accused of that, too. And to think, women's basketball used to be such a civilized affair. It just so happens the job description in women's basketball these days calls for playing physical defense. Don't blame the players. Celebrate the progress. The men, after all, have been doing it for years. By Sports Columnist Tim Dahlberg. MOVED.


BEIJING - China has done everything "humanly possible" to combat air pollution, and conditions will be fine for athletes to compete at the Beijing Games, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said Thursday. Beijing's notorious smog has been a major concern in the buildup to the games, prompting China to pull half the city's 3.3 million vehicles off the road, halt major construction and close some factories. By Stephen Wilson. MOVED.

- With:


BC-OLY--Carissa's Fridge

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Carissa Gump spent the previous night cleaning out her refrigerator, organizing the cans and bottles so the labels pointed the same direction, making sure the shelves and drawers were spotless. It didn't do much to soothe her anxiety about opening the door, allowing a nutritionist judge the contents. Olympic athletes, particularly ones in weight classes such as Gump, must pay close attention to what they eat. By John Marshall. AP Photos. AP Multimedia. MOVED.


BC-OLY-ATH--Passing The Stick

DALIAN, China - When things go well, as they did on most of the exchanges the runners practiced Thursday at the U.S. Olympic track team's training camp, the Americans wind up with gold medals around their necks. When things don't go as smoothly, they go home empty-handed. By National Writer Eddie Pells. MOVED.


BEIJING - China's talismanic hurdler Liu Xiang has shown less-than-stellar form this year. Now, as the Beijing Olympics get under way, there are questions whether he can defend his 110-meter title in what is bound to be a marquee event. Publicly, many Chinese say it's time to lay off the star. By Christopher Bodeen. MOVED.

- Also:


- BEIJING - OLY--ATH-Track Camp. By National Writer Eddie Pells. MOVED.


OLY--BKW-U.S. Opener

BEIJING - U.S. women's basketball coach Anne Donovan has been focusing on one goal since the start of training camp last week: Be ready for the Olympics. Now that day is finally here, and the Americans are ready to begin their journey for a fourth-straight gold medal Saturday as they open up against the Czech Republic. By Doug Feinberg. AP Photos. MOVED.

OLY--BKO-Unworried Americans

BEIJING - Their final exhibition game was a tougher-than-it-should've-been victory. Yet for all-stars suiting up for the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team, it was just one bad game - and not a reason for concern heading into the Beijing Games. "We've come here to win a gold medal," LeBron James said before the team's practice Thursday, "no matter if it's by one or by 40." By Aaron Beard. AP Photos. MOVED.



BEIJING - Elaine Youngs is at her third Olympics, and she's watched beach volleyball grow from indoor's little sibling to one of the hottest sports in the games. "To come from where we were to now, it's amazing," she said after one of her last practices before the competition begins on Saturday morning. By Jimmy Golen. AP Photos.


- BEIJING - OLY--BOX-Britain-Gavin Out. MOVED.


OLY--CYC-Road Course Preview

BEIJING - The finish line of the Olympic road cycling course may provide an absolutely picturesque backdrop for a gold-medal celebration, with the Great Wall ringing the area, trees dotting lush mountainside and centuries-old, brightly colored towers and structures adding another dimension to the scenic vista. With smog-free skies, it'd look even better. "It's certainly a special course," U.S. medal hopeful Levi Leipheimer said. "Wish we could see more of it." By Tim Reynolds. AP Photos. MOVED.

- With:

- BEIJING - BC-OLY-CYC--Victoria Pendleton. MOVED.


OLY--DIV-Persistent Dumais

BEIJING, China - Troy Dumais always dreamed of being the next Greg Lougainis. He won't be able to reach that lofty goal, but he hasn't given up on winning an Olympic gold medal. The 28-year-old Californian is back for his third try, and sees no reason why he can't knock off the powerful Chinese. By National Writer Paul Newberry. AP Photos. MOVED.


OLY--FEN-Smart Perspective

BEIJING - When Keeth Smart fell just short of a medal at the Athens Olympics, he thought he understood heartache. Four years later, he knows better. In 2005, Smart's father died, and earlier this year he lost his mother. In between, Smart was hospitalized after contracting a rare blood disorder. Now Smart is back at the Olympics and in improved health, ready to compete again in saber fencing. By Noah Trister. MOVED.

- With:

- BEIJING - OLY--FEN-Fencing Draws. By Noah Trister. MOVED.


- BEIJING - OLY--GYM--Injured Memmel. MOVED.


OLY--JUD-Japan's Pride

BEIJING - Questioning the prowess of Japan's Olympic judo team is like insulting the beauty of Mount Fuji. Four years ago, Japan won a record eight gold medals in Athens and six members of the team now in Beijing have already stood atop the podium. Maybe it's the pressure - the responsibility of upholding the national honor on the international stage - but the team that is the pride of Japan is hardly brimming with confidence. By Eric Talmadge. MOVED.

- With:



BC-OLY--SHO-Shooting in the Smog

BEIJING - While the focus has been on the affect Beijing's polluted air could have on the health of Olympians, a bigger concern in the trap and skeet competition is locating the targets in the thick veil of haze that blankets the city and keeps sunshine at bay. Ideal conditions for these competitions is a bright, sunny day. That likely won't happen in these Olympics, where overcast skies are the norm despite numerous efforts to cut down on the smog. By Kristie Rieken. MOVED.


- SHANGHAI - OLY--SOC-Australia-Serbia. MOVED.

- SHANGHAI - OLY--SOC-Ivory Coast-Argentina. MOVED.

- TIANJIN, China - OLY--SOC-Netherlands-Nigeria. MOVED.

- SHENYANG, China - OLY--SOC-Brazil-Belgium. MOVED.

- SHENYANG, China - OLY--SOC-China vs. New Zealand. MOVED.

- QINHUANGDO, China - OLY--SOC-Honduras-Italy. MOVED.

- QINHUANGDO, China - OLY--SOC-South Korea-Cameroon. MOVED.

- BEIJING - OLY--SOC-US-Wambach Blues. By Ryan Lucas. MOVED.

- SHENYANG, China - OLY--SOC-Germany-Neid. MOVED.


BC-OLY--SWM-Show The Flow

TROY, N.Y. - U.S. Olympic swimmers trying to eke out faster times in Beijing have one edge that would be unthinkable until recently: Through digital imaging, they can "see" precisely what happens to the water down to the tiniest eddy when they kick and pull. The movement of the bubbles, often photographed at a rate of 100 frames a second, provides a detailed illustration of the flow of water around a swimmer's body. The color-coded images show the direction and the speed of the water. By Michael Hill. AP Photos. MOVED.

BC-OLY--SWM-Eager Phelps

BEIJING - Michael Phelps might be the face of the Beijing Olympics, but the world's greatest swimmer fades into the background at the athletes' village. Especially when he shows up in the dining hall at the same time as some of the basketball and tennis superstars at these games. The biggest way he could help turn his sport into something people pay attention to more than once every four years is by winning eight gold medals and becoming the greatest Olympian ever. Actually, he needs only four golds at these games to become the first Olympian in history to win 10 golds. By Beth Harris. AP Photos. AP Video. MOVED.

- Also:

- BEIJING - OLY--SWM-Swimsuit Questions. By Andrew Dampf. MOVED.

- BEIJING - OLY--SWM-Silver's Comeback. By Paul Newberry. MOVED.


- BEIJING - OLY--TTN-Team Draw. By Anita Chang. MOVED.


- BEIJING - OLY--VOL-Lang Ping. By Anne Peterson. MOVED.

- BEIJING - OLY--VOL-Italy-Aguero. MOVED.



BEIJING - When Chinese weightlifter Chen Xiexia grips the bellbar on Saturday, the weights are not her only burden. As the favorite in the women's 48 kilogram category, the 25-year-old world champion is under pressure to give the host nation a perfect start to the Olympics. If she fails, her disappointment will be shared by millions of Chinese who count on weightlifting - a sport China normally dominates - to boost the country's overall medal tally. By Karl Ritter. MOVED.


- BEIJING - OLY--WRE-Gardner's Visit. By Aaron Beard. MOVED.


- BEIJING - OLY--Drug Testers. By Stephen Wade. MOVED.

- BEIJING - OLY--US-Bush Visit. MOVED.

- BEIJING - OLY--Beijing Medals. By Anne Peterson. MOVED.

- MOSCOW - OLY--ATH-Doping-Russian Race Walkers. MOVED.

- BEIJING - OLY--China-Yao. By Christopher Bodeen. MOVED.

- BEIJING - OLY--Drug Testers. By Stephen Wade. MOVED.



As part of its coverage of the 2008 Olympics, the AP is offering links to NBC video coverage of the games within stories and via STATS Hosted Solution. The NBC video is available now until Aug. 26. For information on how to access or implement these videos, please contact AP Customer Support at (877) 836-9477 or apcustomersupportap.org. Hosted and commercial clients should contact their respective account manager at STATS.


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MORGAN HAMM OUT - NEW: Morgan Hamm is joining his brother on the sidelines for the Beijing Olympics. The American withdrew from the U.S. men's team with a left ankle injury Thursday, two days before competition is to begin. Filename: 0807dv-oly-hamm.

FIRST PERSON: DARA TORRES - NEW: 24 years ago, U.S. swimmer Dara Torres made her Olympic debut. The 41-year-old reminisces on that experience and looks ahead to her Beijing swims. Filename: 0807dv-oly-torres-plus.

U.S. WOMEN?S BASKETBALL Members of the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team talk about their chances of clinching a fourth straight gold medal in Beijing. The squad consists of WNBA players in the U.S. Basketball program. Filename: 0807dv-oly-women-bball.

FIRST PERSON: ERIC SHANTEAU - NEW: American swimmer Eric Shanteau talks about canceling cancer surgery in order to compete in the summer Olympics. Filename: 0807dv-oly-shanteau-fp.

PROTESTS - NEW: Christian demonstrators from the U.S. were removed from Beijing's Tiananmen Square Thursday, the second day running the same group had gathered there. Filename: 0807dv-oly-protests.

OLYMPIC TORCH - NEW: The Olympic flame arrived at the historic Great Wall of China on Thursday to continue on the final leg of its long and sometimes contentious global tour. Filename: 0806dv-oly-torch-relay. BASEBALL - NEW: USA Baseball general manager Bob Watson fully expects baseball to return to the Olympic program, saying the Summer Games have raised the profile of the game enough that it can now be considered a global sport. Filename: 0807dv-oly-baseball-plus.

SANITIZED BEIJING - NEW: The Chinese government has spent $40 billion preparing for the Olympics. Associated Press reporter Anita Chang explains that has come at a cost to the city's culture. Filename: 0806dv-sanitized-beijing.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY - NEW: Associated Press photo editor Denis Paquin give his picks for day?s the top Olympic photos. Filename: 0806dv-oly-photos.

JOEY CHEEK - NEW: Former Olympic speed skater Joey Cheek had his visa revoked by Chinese authorities Wednesday, hours before he was set to travel to Beijing to promote his effort urging China to help make peace in the war-torn Darfur section of Sudan. Filename: 0806dv-joey-cheek.

BASKETBALL - NEW: A mob of Chinese and American fans greeted the United States men's and women's basketball teams when they arrived in Beijing Wednesday. Filename: 0806dv-basketball-plus.


AP podcasts are available in mp3 format and through major podcast providers.

AP OLYMPIC BEAT (Updated daily) http://podcast.ap.org/podcasts/AP-Olympic-Beat.xml?SITE=AP&TYPE=podcast&NAME=Olympic-Beat

- NEW: The AP's Jack Briggs hosts reports on U.S. gymnast Morgan Hamm pulling out of the Olympics, the U.S. men's basketball, baseball and swimming teams and the naming of a flag bearer for the U.S. team for Opening Ceremonies.

- NEW: The AP's Jack Briggs hosts reports on U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, looking to top Mark Spitz' record for golds, and injured U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm.

AP CHINA BEAT http://podcast.ap.org/podcasts/AP-China-Beat.xml?SITE=AP&TYPE=podcast&NAME=China-Beat

- NEW: The AP's Brian Horton hosts a conversation with AP reporter Tini Tran, who has spent the last six months in Beijing studying the region's pollution and environmental concerns.


Summer Games Plus subscribers will find the multimedia referenced below at ftpnews.stats.com. Customers needing access to this FTP should contact AP Customer Support at apcustomersupportap.org or 877-836-9477 or their STATS LLC account manager.

HAMM BROTHERS - NEW: A photo gallery of the Hamm brother?s careers. Morgan Hamm withdrew from the games Thursday due to an aggravated chronic injury, two days before competition begins. Filename: oly-gym-hamm.

OLYMPIC PIN COLLECTOR - NEW: An audio slideshow about an Olympic pin collector from Missouri. Filename: pin-collector.

MEASURING BEIJING'S AIR - UPDATED: An interactive on pollution in Beijing is updated DAILY throughout the Games. It includes pollution readings on the Olympic Green, taken by The Associated Press and updated daily; Historical data on air pollution in China and other key world cities; Pollution readings across China; An animated explainer on the different methods the Chinese have used to try to decrease air pollution. Filename: oly-fea-pollution.

BOXING TWINS - An audio slideshow on Puerto Rican Olympic boxers. Filename: oly-box-twins.

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN OLYMPIAN An audio slideshow on six U.S. Olympians explaining what being part of the team means to them. Filename: oly-fea-feelings.

WEEKLY CHINA GALLERY - UPDATED: A weekly gallery of images from China. Filename: chinaweekly.

NUTRITION - Take a peek inside the fridge of U.S. Olympic weightlifting team member Carissa Gump. Filename: oly-fridge.

OLYMPIC BODIES - Janet Schmidt and Jeff Sygmanin of the Kismayer Fitness Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center break down six body types that are ideal for Olympic athletes. Filename: oly-bodies.

TABLE TENNIS SCHOOL - An audio slideshow on a table tennis school for Chinese athletes. Filename: oly-ping-pong.

SOCCER ACADEMY - An audio slideshow on the Three Highs soccer academy in Beijing. Filename: oly-cost-of-gold.

VENUE TOUR - An interactive tour of Olympic venues. Filename: oly-08-venues.

TORCH RELAY - An interactive map tracking the international torch relay. Filename: oly-torch-int.

LONG ROAD TO BEIJING - An interactive on transporting equipment to the games. Filename: oly-longroad.

PARALYMPIC SAILOR - An interactive with audio from Paralympic sailor John Ruf. Filename: oly-para-sailor.

SPORT EXPLAINERS The following interactive sport explainers are available: - Athletics: oly-trackandfield. - Basketball: oly-basketball. - Cycling: oly-cycling. - Equestrian: oly-equestrian. - Fencing: oly-fencing. - Gymnastics: oly-gymnastics. - Modern Pentathlon: oly-pentathlon. - Swimming: oly-swimming. - Diving: oly-diving. - Wrestling: oly-wrestling. - Judo: oly-judo. - Boxing: oly-boxing. - Taekwondo: oly-taekwondo. - Volleyball: oly-volleyball. - Triathlon: oly-triathlon. - Sailing: oly-sailing. - Kayak & Canoe: oly-paddling. - Racket sports: oly-racket-sports. - Water Polo: oly-waterpolo. - Soccer: oly-soccer. - Shooting: oly-shooting. - Handball: oly-handball. - Field Hockey: oly-field-hockey. - Baseball & softball: oly-baseball-softball.