The opening ceremony for the Paralympic Games in London began Wednesday.
Acclaimed British scientist Stephen Hawking, who has motor neurone disease and has been paralyzed for most of his life, narrated parts of the ceremony.
With the games set to begin, here's a list of athletes who were born in or listed a residency in New England. In all, there are 12 New England connections from all six states among Paralympic athletes who will compete in the 11-day competition, many of whom are on the rowing, sailing and swimming teams. Some listed two cities on the official team release provided by the US Olympic Committee.
Andrew Johnson, Riverside, Conn., Rowing
Paul Nitz, Edina, Minn., Bloomfield, Conn., Track and Field
Tara Profitt, Berlin,Conn., Newington, Conn., Table Tennis
Alexandra Stein, Stamford, Conn., Rowing
Tom Brown, Castine, Maine; Bangor, Maine, Sailing
Kelley Becherer, Sheboygan, Wis.; Boston, Swimming
Anjali Forber-Pratt, Natick, Mass.; Champaign, Ill., Track and Field
Michael Prout, West Springfield, Mass.; Colorado Springs, Colo., Swimming
Dorian Weber, Brighton, Mass.; Boston, Rowing
New Hampshire (1)
Victoria Arlen, Exeter, N.H., Swimming
Rhode Island (1)
Paul Callahan, Cape Coral, Fla.; Newport, RI, Sailing
Alicia Dana, Putny, Vt., Cycling
One good way to follow the games is through a web site produced by WGBH for PBS called Medal Quest.
Globe Olympics reporters Chad Finn and Scott Thurston provide a few final thoughts on what they witnessed throughout the two weeks of the Olympics.
LONDON -- The London Olympics concluded Sunday night with a Closing Ceremonies that emphasized Great Britain’s rich musical history, from The Beatles to Queen to The Who and so many classic songs and musicians in between.
(The Spice Girls were also reunited, for one night only.)
And as the Ceremonies appropriately wrapped up two weeks of extraordinary competition and athletic feats, surprisingly cooperative weather, and a city that was a fabulous, organized, collectively charming host, you were left with one thought as Roger Daltrey closed the festivities with “My Generation.”
If only London could come out for an encore.
The Closing Ceremonies, which were less elaborate, slightly more musical (who knew Take That could sing like that?), and much more relaxed than the Opening Ceremonies, were a celebration of a Games that began plagued by concerns about travel, security, and logistics, but will end up remembered for the extraordinary performances of Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Brits Mo Farrah and Jessica Ennis, among so many more.
Sebastian Coe, the legendary distance runner who served as the chair of the London Organizing Committee, summed it all up perfectly in his speech near the end of Sunday’s Ceremonies, and you could almost hear him exhale:
"When our time came, Britain, we did it right."
It’s hard to imagine anyone who was here for the extraordinary spectacle would disagree.
Live updates from the Ceremonies are below. Thank you for reading, everyone. And thank you for everything, London.
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12:01: London has countless options for a musical closer, but they chose a great one: The Who, singing "Baba O'Riley."
11:51: Take That takes the stage, singing "Rule The World." Winding toward the finale now as fireworks light up the sky.
11:49: Rogge declares the Games closed. Someone should start an impromptu game of handball just to spite him.
11:44: Coe: "When our time came, Britain, we did it right." Truth.
11:39: Sebastian Coe, the chair of the London Organizing Committee, and Jacques Rogge take the stage for the closing of the games. When Coe pauses after "... wonderful city,'' there's an enormous roar.
11:31: Samba time. It's Brazil's party now.
11:28: Time to look ahead. The Road to Rio -- site of the 2016 Games -- is underway, with the Brazilian anthem playing to signify the transition.
11:17: Gold lights flash to the beat all through the top deck as May segues into "We Will Rock You." Jessie J. will apparently try to do her best Freddie.
11:16: Brian May and the surviving members of Queen take the stage. Crowd is bouncing.
11:14 Huge video board shows Freddie Mercury performing live at Wembley Stadium in 1986, doing an amazing call-and-response with the audience. This is tremendous.
11:12: Muse performing the official Olympic song, "Survival." It will not top what Eric Idle just did. That's the official song.
11:05: Eric Idle. Always a good idea. Always looking on the bright side of life.
11:05: Someone is climbing into a cannon as ELO's "Blue Sky'' plays. I don't think it's the Queen, but I'm not writing anything off after that stunt she pulled at the Opening Ceremonies.
10:58: Liam Gallagher singing "Wonderwall.'' I swear I've heard that song twice as much as any anthem this week.
10:55: I was on the right track -- it's the Spice Girls. Reunited for one night only!
10:54: Ten black cabs drive on to the stage. I suspect David Beckham is driving all of them.
10:51: They're joined by Taio Cruz, and break into the Bee Gees' "You Should Be Dancing." They couldn't have paid Barry Gibb a pound to come sing it?
10:47: Jessie J. hands off to Tinie Tempah, and as he sings "Written In The Stars,'' this place has turned into the most athletic dance club ever.
10:39: Russell Brand is singing "I Am The Walrus.'' Yes. But he gets a huge cheer when he duplicates Mo Farrah and Usian Bolt's trademark celebrations.
10:36: Ed Sheeran performs Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here'' very, very well, the album cover is recreated with a tightrope walker, and suddenly it's a few hours beyond midnight and I'm in college again.
10:32: Cannot tell if this is Annie Lennox, Zombie Annie Lennox, or just Marilyn Manson amping up the makeup a smidge. She is the figurehead on a ghost galleon, singing "Little Bird." (File that one under sentences you never expect to peck out as a sports writer.)
10:26: I believe cartel of British supermodels has arrived. A tribute to the British fashion industry. And to hitting underlings with telephones.
10:23: Some guy who is much younger than Roger Daltrey sings "Pinball Wizard.'' Presuming he's from the "Tommy" musical. Also presuming this is a clue that pinball will be an Olympic sport in Rio in 2016.
10:13: It's George Michael! No, not the one from "Arrested Development." The one from the '80s! A little grayer, but looks the same. Believe the song he is singing is not longer called, "Freedom '90," though. Because that would make it seem old.
10:11: Fragments of a sculpture are used to form the face of John Lennon, with clouds projected above it. Feels silly writing that, but it was very cool. Who think of this stuff?
10:09: Freddie Mercury's voice echoes throughout the dark stadium, singing the first few lines of "Bohemian Rhapsody,'' followed by "Imagine.'' Chills.
10:05: As "Here Comes The Sun" plays, athletes pay homage to the more than 70,000 "Games Marker" volunteers. Nice touch, because they really did a tremendous job, offering knowledge and good humor when ever a clueless reporter (ahem) or such had a question.
10:01: Jacques Rogge, the life of any party, hands out the final medals of the Olympics to the men's marathoners.
9:53: The athletes have all arrived, settling into their colorful wedges. A group of drummers then follows, decked out in white. They're followed by performers (maybe this is where Kate Moss comes in?) carrying a total of 303 white boxes, which represents the 303 Olympic events. Pretty sure at least 103 of them were in swimming. The music of choice is Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill.'' For once, it's not "Wonderwall."
9:48: French athletes are taking turns doing backflips. I'm just going to assume they're gymnasts and not bodybuilders.
9:44: This isn't a ceremony. It's a party. Everyone is smiling.
9:39: Among the US athletes expected to be in the crowd are Aly Raisman, Kayla Harrison, and Missy Franklin.
9:33: The Parade of Athletes is underway -- lots of flags, lots of smiles, and a few medals here and there. Sailor Ben Ainsley carries the flag for the Brits. An enormous graphic on the stage transforms from the Union Flag to an enormous circle of light with more than 200 flags representing the countries competing here each taking up a wedge. It looks like the world's coolest and most colorful "Trivial Pursuit" board.
9:15: Michael Caine delivers his classic line from the film "The Italian Job." (No, not the Mark Wahlberg version -- the 1969 original): "I told you to blow their doors off!"
9:05 Fascinating list of performers scheduled, including: Queen (who sings?), The Who, The Spice Girls, Take That (anyone remember Robbie Williams as the next-big thing?), Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, the Pet Shop Boys, One Direction. Do not see Sir Elton John listed. Several perform during an 11-minute segment called "Street Party." Gotta say, "West End Girls'' holds up.
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LONDON -- Hard to believe the Closing Ceremonies are upon us already, isn't it? Feel like just a few days ago that the Queen was jumping out of a plane with James Bond and Paul McCartney was leading everyone in Olympic park in a "Hey, Jude" singalong.
But Sunday night brings the formal conclusion of a Games that confirmed the greatness of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, awed us with wonderful stories such as Kayla Harrison, Katie Taylor, Mo Farrah and Guor Marial, among so many more. Now it's time to celebrate the past two weeks, and the city that was an amazingly sunny (literally and figuratively) host.
I'll post live updates here throughout the festivities (provided the wireless doesn't keep kicking out). Beware of spoilers -- I'm presuming you probably don't need a warning at this point -- and enjoy the final chapter on a Summer Olympics that exceeded expectations.
Kevin Durant scored 30 points, LeBron James had 19 and Kobe Bryant 17 to lead the Americans.
The game was a rematch of the 2008 Olympic gold-medal game in Beijing.
The United States was undefeated throughout the Olympic tournament. Spain lost two games in the preliminary round.
Pau Gasol led Spain with 24 points.
Walking down the street or talking to people on the Tube turns into a global exhibition because you hear accents and languages and see fashion from around the world.
With a phenomenon as unique as the Olympics, it is only proper to capitalize on the serendipitous cultural gathering created by the world’s love of sport.
As visitors from around the world convened in London, milling around the city and queuing up in front of Olympic sports arenas, the world’s largest cultural festival is happening right under their noses.
Countries have set up “national houses,” to have a place to display their culture. Created with the mindset that they would be a good place for athletes to come to feel at home during the Games, these houses also serve as a showcase for the world to see.
Many of the national houses are open to the public, with a range of activities to sample both national and Olympic culture. Everything from ice skating and performances to table tennis and partying can be found at these houses — in the style of that country, of course.
Walking through Hyde Park, I came across the Africa Village displaying snippets of African culture in each stall with musicians, pamphlets about different countries’ initiatives and jewelry or clothing for sale. On the other hand, Russia opened an area for visitors to ice skate while the Netherlands is the mastermind of the Holland Heineken House — a bright orange castle in which to throw the best parties in London during the Games.
Exploring Brick Lane, hoping to find some Indian food or a good deal at a thrift store, I ran into what I came to find out was the Puma Yard — a Jamaican-themed building filled with Ping-Pong tournaments, Usain Bolt pictures and relaxed jams for people to interact and enjoy the Games.
On the other hand, the USA house, which is primarily used as an exclusive gathering spot for athletes and their families, shows off American consumerism at its finest. With only the USA Team store — fully stocked with Ralph Lauren USA apparel — open to the public, the sidewalk outside the house becomes the best place for wide-eyed Americans to wait for picture opportunities with athletes.
While everyone turns their eyes to London, watching marathons run through Westminster, past the Eye and Big Ben, they also inadvertently open their eyes to the rest of the world. Though sports are the focus of the Olympics, it would be wrong to ignore the cultural phenomenon these games produce.
LONDON -- Welcome to Day 17 of competition, the final day of the London Games (already?) and one with a couple of highly anticipated events on the schedule. Medals will be awarded in 10 events, including the men's marathon, but this day belongs to basketball more than any other.
Sunday's must-see event: Spain has never beaten the US men's basketball team in 10 previous Olympic meetings, but they have at least a puncher's chance Sunday afternoon against LeBron James and his supporting cast of fellow superstars. If the US has a relative weakness, it is inside play, with only Tyson Chandler serving as a legitimate center on the roster. Spain features the Gasol brothers, efficient Pau and bruising Marc, and if both play to the peak of their abilities, at the very least Spain could make it interesting.
Also worth watching: The Closing Ceremonies, despite the apparent involvement of the Spice Girls. What, Wham! could not be reunited in time? (Actually, George Michael is expected to perform.) It will be difficult to match the standard set by the thrilling Opening Ceremonies, masterminded and executed by acclaimed film director Danny Boyle, but the Brits are promising a "cheesy and cheeky'' conclusion. Did I mention that the Pet Shop Boys are also part of the festivities?
Saturday's big story: Yup, he's cocky. But he's the good kind of showboat, because Usain Bolt gives the crowd -- and here in London, it is a universally adoring one -- a show, and then he backs up his boasts and then some. Last night, he put the final exclamation point on his transcendent, three-gold-medal performance here, running the anchor leg of Jamaica's record-shattering 4x100 relay. Who cares what starched old Jacques Rogge thinks? Bolt is a legend in his own time. So what if he'll tell you so?
Tweet of the day: “Who would come watch @usainbolt play cricket for the Melb Stars in 2012 Should I continue chatting to him & try and make it happen?" -- @shanewarne, an Australian cricket legend who may give Bolt a shot in that sport.
I'll be back later with live updates from the Closing Ceremonies, but in advance, thanks for reading, everyone. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. The gap has been minded.
LONDON -- Fleeting thoughts crossing my mind while waiting for Usain Bolt to cross the finish line one more time ...
The US basketball guys are still huge worldwide, and to a man they've done a remarkable job of being accessible and part of the Olympic experience; I half expect the ubiquitous Kobe Bryant to be walking around Olympic Park in one of the purple-and-red volunteer shirts, helping a puzzled family from the Netherlands find its way to the field hockey venue. But let's put it this way: If Usain Bolt and LeBron James walked into a pub at the same time, LeBron could go sit in a corner booth, enjoying his fish and chips and beverage of choice undisturbed and barely noticed. It's Bolt's world, and everyone else is a bystander.
London is exactly as I imagined it (OK, minus the imagined random acts of hooliganism and sightings of a blinking, stammering Hugh Grant), and by that I mean it is awesome. Spectacular architecture, a fun pub on every corner, and the people have a generally charming and witty way about them. The accent is so killer, it makes me not even want to talk. The myth about bad food in London is just that, too, unless you happen to be stranded at the Main Press Center with nothing but pork, mayonnaise and feta subs to choose from.
You don't have to watch it for long to recognize that it's a grueling, serious sport, but I just don't get racewalking at all. Every time one competitor is gaining ground on another, I have to suppress the urge to yell, "Run! Run! She's closing the gap! Forget heel-to-toe! RUN!"
Have not met an Olympic athlete yet who didn't seem genuine, engaging, and impossibly down-to-earth, and that includes Michael Phelps. (I should note I did not meet the apparently monosyllabic Ryan Lochte, though he seems decent enough in his Spicolian way. Jeah! ) Ashton Eaton, the decathlon gold medalist who is roughly the size of a Division I football safety, couldn't be a nicer guy. There are no Josh Becketts here.
Being over here for the past 20 days, the depth of my knowledge regarding NBC's coverage boils down to what I read and hear from those back home. (Boo tape-delay, yay Michelle Beadle, more or less, which sounds about right to me.) I'll catch up with that on the DVR when I get home. But while I've been in London, I've been absorbing BBC's coverage, and it has been exceptional. No treacly melodrama, no teasers to features that run two commercial breaks later, no Seacrest, just smart, spirited coverage and analysis. And I'd wager that two of BBC's primary studio analysts -- Olympic legends Michael Johnson and Ian Thorpe -- are as insightful, articulate and in Thorpe's case, sharp-witted -- as anyone NBC is using in a similar role, save for perhaps Doc Rivers.
Joe Posnanski absolutely nails it here on what it's like to cover the Olympics. I found this passage particularly true:
I don’t think anyone cares — or should care — about the various inconveniences of being a sportswriter. It is a dream job, and when you are sitting in the stadium watching Usain Bolt run, or you are at the beach volleyball gold-medal match and can check the time by turning to Big Ben, or you are interviewing athletes after a team handball match and suddenly find yourself talking to the irrepressibly cool Ólafur Stefánsson, well, who really cares about any of that other stuff anyway?
So true. It's exhilarating and exhausting, often within the same hour, but you never let yourself forget the privilege of being here. But it's also true -- and this is something Joe elaborates on with his usual perfect aim -- that the thrills are sometimes surrounded by tedium, that as the days go on home feels farther and farther away, especially when you miss a meaningful moment or milestone. (Happy 6th birthday, bud. Hope you got the R2-D2 and "Three-Creepy-Oh" you wanted.) This is my second Olympics, but the inevitable juxtaposition is already familiar: In the final days of the Olympics, you can't wait to get home. And once you're home, the magnitude of what you got to do sinks in, and you wonder why it had to end so soon and hope you'll get another chance again.
LONDON -- Judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison of Marblehead was one of four athletes who spoke at a United States Olympic Committee press conference this morning to discuss the state of the Games so far. Here are her thoughts:
On the Closing Ceremony Sunday night:
Harrison: "My roommate and I have been practicing the Spice Girls, so we're ready."
On the fascination of looks in media coverage of female athletes:
Harrison:"I think our society puts into women and how they look and what they wear or how they dress and I think that being a strong female competitor is the best thing we can do to fight that. It doesn't matter how we look, we just won the gold medal. It doesn't matter what we wear, we're part of Team USA and there's no better colour than the American flag."
On whether winning is the most important thing at the Olympic Games:
Harrison: "The Olympic motto is faster, higher, stronger and I think every American came here to do that. I came here to perform at my very, very best and make America proud as a result."
On the success of women on Team USA, who have compiled more medals than their male counterparts:
Harrison: "I've been thrilled to see how well US women have done. It feels amazing to be apart of something so much bigger than myself, I definitely feel connected. To be able to say, 'I'm a strong confident young woman and an Olympic champion is amazing and I hope we have a million young girls inspired right now."
LONDON -- Welcome to Day 16 of competition, the penultimate day of the London Games and yet one of the biggest days in terms of total medals being awarded. Fifteen different sports will distribute gold, silver and bronze Saturday, including eight in athletics alone.
Saturday's must-see event: Bolt. There's probably no need to elaborate beyond the most famous and appropriate surname of these Games, but perhaps a reminder is needed that the 4x100-meter relay will not only be Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt's final event of London, but there's a chance it's the 27-year-old's final Olympic appearance. He is expected to run the anchor leg for favored Jamaica. One more gold and one more electric moment seems like something he'll be able to conjure up.
Also worth watching: The official term for it is the women's Olympic basketball gold medal game. I prefer calling it the UConn Alumni Game better. Team USA, which is coached by Geno Auriemma and features four Huskies legends (Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, and Swin Cash) as well as the likes of Candace Parker and Tina Charles, takes on France with the gold medal at stake. History suggests it's a formality for Team USA, which is going for its fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal and 41st straight victory.
Friday's big story: No botched handoffs. No mishaps. Just blazing leg after blazing leg, until the US women's 4x100-meter relay team had overcome its odd recent history and shattered a 27-year-old world record in the event.
It was Carmelita Jeter who ran the anchor leg as the US completed the event in 40.82 seconds, more than a full half-second faster than the dubious standard set by East Germany in 1985. It was the first time the US had won the event since 1996, notoriously fumbling the baton both in 2004 and 2008 when they were among the favorites.
“I was thinking Olympic record, and when I saw world record I said, ‘Oh gosh,’ ” said Allyson Felix, who ran the second leg. “This is crazy.”
Tweet of the day: "WORLD RECORD, IT FELT AMAZING." -- @CarmelitaJeter, after the women's 4x100-meter relay.
Mind the gap, and stick around right here for further updates throughout the day.
LONDON - In a surprise selection, track and field athlete Bryshon Nellum was named to lead the US team into Sunday's Closing Ceremonies as flag bearer, the US Olympic Committee announced Friday night. Nellum was chosen by a vote of team members.
Nellum, a 400-meter runner, was told by doctors in 2008 that he would never run again at a world-class level. Through perseverance and dedication, Nellum returned to training full-time in 2012 and finished third in the 400 at the US Olympic trials in a personal-best 44.80 seconds to earn a London berth.
"I'm humbled by this incredible privilege," said Nellum. "Four years ago I wasn't sure I'd ever run again, and now I'm leading Team USA into the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games. I'm so grateful for the incredible support of my friends and family and I'll never forget these Games."
"I'd like to congratulate Bryshon on this tremendous honor," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. "His courage embodies the Olympic spirit and he'll represent our team well on Sunday night."
LONDON -- Had a chance to catch up with decathlon gold medalist Ashton Eaton Friday afternoon at the P&G House, the home-away-from-home here for United States athletes and their families. For a guy who was just newly-minted as the World's Greatest Athlete, he's about as affable and laid-back as it gets. Must be his Oregon roots. Here are his answers to our five questions:
I know it's just Day 1 for you as a gold medalist, but often things change immediately after someone gets to the top of a podium here. Have you been recognized or approached more?
Eaton: "I think after Eugene [the site of the US track and field Olympic trials], it was more like that, so I was kind of used to it. But you know, I can be walking around over here and someone with a Union Jack painted on his face will come up and say, 'Hey, can we get a picture with you?,' and I'm always still a little surprised. But I haven't got my medal yet so I can't walk around with it or anything like that. I have a bunch of family and friends, high school and college friends, who came over here to watch. And they have access to the village, so I was like, 'Guys, I've got to go to bed,' but they talked me into going out with them, and I hung around with them a little bit. I didn't get done NBC stuff until like 2:30 a.m., so it ended up being pretty laid back."
2. Usain Bolt likes to refer to himself as the world's greatest athlete, and he can make a pretty good case. But after he won the 200 meters, he said it was you because you do 10 events. Had you heard about that?
Eaton: "I heard about that, and it was cool. But we each have our own accolades and accomplishments and things we do well. He's the fastest man who has ever walked the face of the earth. That's what the 100-meter guy gets. The winner of the decathlon gets world's greatest athlete. I do see the decathlon as one big event. I think about it as a whole. The whole thing is challenging, there's never one event that I was super-good at. One day I'll do the shot-put and I just may not be getting it and I'll be super frustrated. The next day it may be the discus that I'm not getting and I'll be super frustrated. It's mostly equal across the board."
3. Do you feel like there's some kind of expectation of you to bring the decathlon more into the sports consciousness in the United States? It has this rich history, from Jim Thorpe to Bruce Jenner and more recently, Dan O'Brien, and yet it has this perception as sort of an afterthought compared to what it was a couple of decades ago.
Eaton: "I don't really feel the pressure of it. I think no matter what people say it's always ebb and flow in terms of popularity. This may be a new height, who knows, or it may be coming up right now. I love it, and I hope I help some other people love it like I do. But it's not really something you can control beyond being a good representative of the sport and giving it your best every time you compete.''
4. Dan O'Brien has said you're the best ever. You have the world record for total points in a meet [9,039], and now you have a gold medal. How much higher can you go? Is there a specific goal?
Eaton: I think I can eventually score a lot of points. I used to have a set number, but you know, I got to it. That's why I don't set goals, because I'm like, 'Who knows?' But I would like to score 9,200 points. I think I can do that.''
5. Was there ever a sport or a discipline that you didn't really take to? Tell me you weren't much of a pee-wee hockey player or something like that.
Actually, the question in the headline should probably ask "Who should carry the US flag in the Closing Ceremonies'' since the matter of which athlete will carry it won't be announced until tomorrow at the earliest, and probably not until the buildup to the event Sunday night. The focus, still, is on the competition, not the conclusion.
But that won't stop us from speculating, based mostly on educated guesses and relevant history.
Our first clue comes from the announcement of a press conference Saturday at 2 p.m. for the United States Olympic Committee to ostensibly provide the media "an overview of the achievements of the United States Olympic Team at the London 2012 Olympic Games.''
Four gold-medal winning US athletes will be present at the press conference: Ashton Eaton (decathlon), Missy Franklin (swimming), Brenda Villa (women's water polo), and Wakefield's Kayla Harrison (judo).
In the past, according to my colleague John Powers, who has covered every non-boycotted summer and winter Olympics since 1976 in Montreal, it is often an athlete who is invited to this traditional press conference who ends up as the flag-bearer.
Carrying the flag in the Closing Ceremonies isn't quite as prestigious as doing so in the Opening Ceremonies; the athletes tend to enter en masse, in more of a scrum than the formal country-by-country introductions at the beginning of the Games.
And proximity is also a factor - many of the athletes who competed earlier in the Games have already gone home, such as many of the swimmers.
The USOC also tends to honor the spirit of amateurism -- snicker here if you must -- rather than selecting the most-medaled athlete or the biggest star, say, someone like LeBron James or Michael Phelps. It is not believed that Needham's Aly Raisman, who won three gymnastics medals here, is under consideration.
Perhaps it could be a retiring star -- beach volleyball three-time gold medalist Misty May-Treanor would qualify -- but often it is someone who has overcome unusual odds. In Beijing, it was archer Khatuna Lorig, a native of the Republic of Georgia who became a US citizen in 2007, who received the honor.
Our hunch is that it will be someone on the podium at Saturday's press conference who is chosen.
And we can't imagine there would be a more fitting choice than Kayla Harrison.
It's Day 19 for our Boston.com reporter in London. Check in below to join his chat.
Alex Meyer, the Harvard grad who sometimes trains in Walden Pond in Concord, finished 10th in the men's open water swimming race at the Olympics on Friday.
Meyer completed the 10-kilometer race in 1 hour, 50 minutes and 48.2 seconds. Winner Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia clocked a 1:49:55.1.
Meyer was the only American in the race, held at the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park.
Boston.com's Olympics interns filed the video report above from today's event.
Chad Finn comments on the US's victory in the Olympics women's soccer final.
LONDON -- Welcome to Day 14 of competition -- yep, we're two full weeks into this thing, with three days of Games left to go. Hard to believe this is coming to an end faster than Usain Bolt coming around the turn (OK, not quite that fast), but there's still plenty of good stuff yet to come. Today's docket includes medals in athletic, boxing, BMX cycling, field hockey (a very fun sport to watch live), sailing, soccer, swimming, synchronized swimming (where Harvard's Alex Meyer competes in the 10-kilometer open water race) , taekwondo, and wrestling.
Friday's must-see event: On most days -- perhaps all of them before today -- a medal event would be mentioned in this space. But the most intriguing competition Friday is a rematch of a game that actually happened Monday, and wasn't even close. The United States men's basketball team takes on Argentina in the semifinals, four days after beating them by 29 points (126-97). Another blowout is possible with the talent on the US roster and LeBron James playing as well as he ever has, but history suggests Argentina will make a game of it. In an Olympic tuneup less than three weeks ago, the winning margin for the US was just six (86-80), and the more recent game was close into the third quarter until Kevin Durant matched the entire Argentinian team with 17 points in the frame. Argentina was the first team to beat a US team constructed of NBA stars (2002 World Championships), and they took them down two years later to win the gold in Athens. With proud, tough veterans such as Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola, Argentina should provide the US with its toughest test in the tournament.
Also worth watching: Medals will be awarded in six athletics events today: the men's 4x400 and pole vault, and the women's hammer throw, 5,000-meters, 1,500-meters, and 4x100 relay. It's the latter that should stand as the most compelling competition. The US blazed through its qualifying heat (41.64 seconds), but in recent Olympics the team has had a history of mishaps and has not won gold since Atlanta. That could change Friday with Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter leading the US foursome, but Jamaica, with 100-meter gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown on its side, should be right there stride for stride.
Thursday's big stories: Gotta go plural here, or at least one Big Story, Team Division and one Big Story, Individual. The first is the US women's soccer team's 2-1 victory over Japan, avenging their loss on penalty kicks in the World Cup final last year, a disappointing defeat that served as motivation to accomplish what they did Thursday night. “They snatched our dream last summer,” Megan Rapinoe said. “And this kind of feels like the nightmare turned back around.”
As for the individual who stole the night, well, who else but Usain Bolt? The transcendent, so-cocky-it's-comical sprinter completed his double-double, winning the 200-meters for the second straight Olympics just as he had in the 200. His breathtaking acceleration coming around the turn was reminiscent of Michael Johnson doing the same in Atlanta in 1996. In his usual humble way, he declared himself a "living legend'' afterward, which of course is entirely true.
Tweet of the day: While the media is pumping up the familiar names @CarliLloyd was focusing on making sure she outworks everyone and outshines everyone. -- James Galanis (@coachgalanis), a former coach of US women's soccer standout Carli Lloyd. Lloyd, who had both US goals in its 2-1 victory over Japan, retweeted the sentiment.
Mind the gap, and stick around right here for further updates throughout the day.
LONDON -- Members of the United States women's soccer team have spoken passionately about avenging its 2011 World Cup final loss to Japan virtually since the moment it was decided on penalty kicks.
Thursday night at Wembley Stadium, vengeance became theirs. And so did the gold medal.
The United States defeated Japan, 2-1, in the final of the Olympic women's soccer tournament.
Carli Lloyd scored both goals for the US, which took a 1-0 lead into halftime, built it to 2-0 in the 55th minute, and then held on for their third consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Yuki Ogami scored for Japan in the 63d minute, but despite a persistent offense that gave the US trouble for long stretches of time, that's all it could muster.
Japan's Mana Iwabuchi had Japan's best shot to tie the game in the 84th minute, but US keeper Hope Solo made the stop to hold the lead.
* * *
81:00 Rachel Buehler off for the US, with Becky Sauerbrunn subbing in. Have to figure it's an injury to the dependable Buehler.
79:12: Attendance is 80,203, meaning there are 2,797 open seats. Those 2,797 who had something else to do are missing a good one. Maybe they all went to watch Bolt run the 200.
76:12: Alex Morgan flashes some fancy footwork to elude one defender, but he shot attempt sails high, and she missed an open Wambach.
63:11, US 2, Japan 1: You thought Japan, which played so well in the first half, would settle for silver without a fight? Not happening Yuki Ogimi collects a loose ball and scores, and the margin is suddenly a single goal again.
59:12: Cheney subs in for Megan Rapinoe after the goal.
55:10, US 2, Japan 0: Carli Lloyd gets her second of the game, dribbling through three defenders at full speed and scoring with a bomb that crossed into the far corner.
47:00: The teams are back on the field for the second half. Amazing atmosphere here. Wembley holds more than 88,000 and this place looks full. It's expected to be the largest crowd ever to watch a women's soccer game.
Halftime, US 1, Japan 0: The US gets a second to exhale, but it must know it's fortunate to be at the break with a lead. Japan's swarming defense frustrated the US more and more as the half went on, and if not for a couple of shots hitting crossbars, this one might be tied or have Japan in the lead. The missed call on an obvious handball is also a significant break for the US.
41:03: Team USA coach Pia Sundage is letting her defense have it after Japan's Shinobu Ohno nearly ties it.
37:09: Solo gets an assist from the crossbar a second time, when Japan captain Aya Miyama appears to have an open net but shoots too high. Momentum is in Japan's favor right now, and has been for the last half of the game.
27:08: A break for the US -- Tobin Heath gets away with an obvious handball on a Japanese free kick. Missed call. Somewhere, Team Canada nods in agreement.
21:06: US is doing it everything it can to get Morgan the ball in the open field. Watching her speed reminds me of Tyler Seguin with open ice. Breathtakingly fast.
18:06: Two huge stops by Hope Solo on Hope Solo on Japan's Yuni Ogimi, including one point-blank.
14:33: There's something you won't see often -- Wambach whiffing on an attempted shot. The US nearly got something out of it, though, when Megan Rapinoe collected the bouncing ball and fired from the far post, only to have her shot sail high.
7:57: Correction: It was Carli Lloyd who scored in the crowd, not Wambach.
7:37, 1-0 United States: Well, that was quick. Make it 12 goals in 15 Olympic and World Cup knockout games for Abby Wambach, who takes a feed from Alex Morgan -- those two sure know how to work together -- and scores from 9-feet out at the far post to give the US a quick lead. Beautiful goal.
LONDON -- Checking in from Wembley Stadium, where upwards of 80,000 fans began filing in hours ago in anticipation of the gold medal match between the United States and Japan.
The US, which defeated Canada, 4-3, on Alex Morgan's header to advance to the final, is attempting to avenge a loss on penalty kicks to Japan in the World Cup final. "I’m still heartbroken about losing the World Cup in the way we did,'' said Team USA co-captain Abby Wambach.
The US is 1-1-1 against Japan, a finesse team that defeated France to reach the final. "We think it’s fate that us and Japan are playing,'' said Morgan. "It could have turned out so differently.”
The US has made one lineup change, starting Shannon Boxx in place of Lauren Cheney at center midfield.
Stat of the day, courtesy of Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl's twitter feed: Wambach has 11 goals in 14 career Olympic and World Cup knockout games. Mia Hamm had 2 in 19.
Stay right here for live updates.
As superstar-in-waiting Alex Morgan prepared to play in her first Olympic gold-medal game, she was asked, of course, about her soccer heroes. There can be only one.
"Mia Hamm is a legend,’’ she lauded. “I remember becoming passionate [about soccer] because of Mia Hamm."
Mrs. Nomar of course, played for the national team from 1987-2004 and is widely considered the First Lady of soccer.
“I hear that she’s coming to our game and we inspired her to take a flight over to London to come to our gold medal match,’’ said Morgan, who was hoping the real First Lady would also be watching.
“I would love to see Michelle Obama at our game because [she] is all about fitness and making sure that you’re healthy and that you’re living an active, healthy lifestyle.’’
"We met her last year in the White House and so I would love to see her watch us."
LONDON -- Welcome to Day 13 of competition, during which 10 sports will award medals. The schedule is dotted with exciting events all over the city, including the women's soccer final against Japan, the gold-medal women's water polo match, the final five events of the decathlon (American Ashton Eaton enters with the lead), and, yes, the more compelling athlete here sprinting for another slice of history.
Thursday's must-see event: At first, I had trouble deciding between a couple for this designation this morning, but then somewhere after the first cup of coffee the truth, as obvious as it should have been all along, became evident: Anytime Usain Bolt is involved, it is the must-see event. And that goes double when he's going for a double -- Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter and world-wide icon whose status here exceeds even that of the Team USA basketball players, will try to become the first ever to win the 100- and 200-meter races in back-to-back Games. He'll be in pursuit of more history, starting with the Olympic record in the event (19.30 seconds). In pursuit of him will be his countryman and training partner Yohan Blake, and it would be a shock if anyone else in the field challenges them. Bolt says this is his favorite race because it's more tactically challenging than the 100 meters. Chances are he'll reaffirm that after winning it Thursday night.
Also worth watching: The United States women's soccer team takes on Japan in the Thursday's gold medal match. Japan beat the US in a shootout in the World Cup final. How hungry is the US to avenge that loss? Abby Wambach can tell you:
"Every single player on this team, whether they're even here or not, even players that are left back in the United States, they've given us all an opportunity to train, to work, to dedicate, to sacrifice, every single day since the World Cup, so that we can have this one chance, the one more chance, the 90 more minutes," said Wambach, who scored the tying goal in the US's thrilling 4-3 win over Canada in the semifinals.
"All of us have dreamed about it. We've had nightmares about it even, what happened last summer. This is an opportunity for us for not even redemption, but to prove ourselves, to let whatever happened last summer go -- and be in a position to go after and take the gold medal because we believe that we've earned it. It's going to take 90 minutes of a great performance of the best team in the world, and that's going to be the team that's going to be sitting on the top podium."
Yeah, I'd say they're ready for this. But it almost seems destined to come down to a shootout again, doesn't it?
Wednesday's big story: Allyson Felix is just 27 years old, but she's been the golden girl of US track and field for nearly a decade. Yet until Wednesday night, she had never won an Olympic gold medal in her signature event, the 200 meters, having finished with a silver medal in 2004 in Athens and four years ago in Beijing, the latter a disappointment that left her in tears after the race. So when Felix breezed to gold in 21.88 seconds, beating a field that included two-time defending gold medalist Victoria Campbell-Brown, it was both cathartic and fulfilling.
"Gosh, it's been a long time coming," said Felix. "I think the moment that motivated me most was losing on the biggest stage. At the time I said I'd give all my world championship medals  for that gold. Now I can say I embraced the journey."
Tweet of the day: I want to apologize for my stupid act at the end, I showed a bad image of France and myself, Congrats to team Spain. -- France forward Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum), apologizing for punching Spain's Juan Carlos Navarro in the groin during Spain's medal-round basketball victory Wednesday. He wasn't quite so remorseful at first, saying he did it because Navarro and the Spain guards wouldn't stop flopping.
Mind the gap, and stick around right here for further updates throughout the day.
LONDON – At first, France's Nic Batum wasn't exactly remorseful after punching Spain's Juan Carlos Navarro in the groin during the teams' matchup Wednesday in the men's basketball medal round.
"I wanted to give him a good reason to flop," Batum told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
If Batum's motivation for the cheap shot is indeed what he told Wojnarowski -- that he was sick of Spain players flopping during a 66-59 victory -- it's probably a good thing for triple lindy specialist LeBron James that Team USA won't play France again in the Olympics.
Batum, presumably after being sent to his room to think about his bad behavior, did apologize via Twitter later on his account, @nicolas88batum
I want to apologize for my stupid act at the end, I showed a bad image of France and myself, Congrats to team Spain.
No word whether Navarro accepted his apology. Or for that matter, whether he has uncoiled from the fetal position.
Chad Finn and Scott Thurston check in from London to talk about the outlook for the US men's basketball and women's soccer teams as they pursue gold medals, as well as the biggest star of the games, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and his final event.
LONDON -- Celtics fans don't need to be reminded that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are Nemeses 1 and 1A -- the lingering memories from the Eastern Conference Finals more than suffice in that sense. But when it comes to matters of the Olympics rather than the NBA, perhaps their talents are easier to appreciate around here, at least for a couple of weeks. (No chance? Well, I tried.)
While LeBron has emerged as the single most indispensable player to Team USA with his myriad of skills on full display, Wade, of course, is not playing at all, having ceded his roster spot in June when he required knee surgery following the Heat's victory over the Thunder in the NBA Finals.
But Wade is in the city for a few days, and he'll be in attendance at Wednesday's medal-round opener against Australia. I caught up with him for a few minutes this morning at a Gatorade Sport and Science Institute event at the NBA House to catch his thoughts on the state of Team USA, among other topics.
1. Are you concerned about Team USA's slow starts? Other than the Nigeria game, it's taken them some time to get their bearings early in games.
Wade: "Yeah, a little. They're spending a lot of time feeling each other out, almost being too unselfish at times. I don't think they'll start slow now that it's the medal round, now that it's win or go home. You've got to understand one thing, too -- a lot of guys are so excited to come out and play the US team, and they're so fired up and energized that they play at a really high level. One of the best things about the US team is their depth. We wear on guys, wear on guys, wear on 'em until eventually they break."
2. LeBron has often been the facilitator of the offense early in games, but he's been able to completely take scoring-wise whenever necessary. Are you at all surprised that he's controlling play pretty much at will?
Wade: "Well, LeBron is one of the greatest players in the world, and he has the ability to help a team win probably more than anyone else in the game. You see it, he can turn it on scoring-wise, he can pile up rebounds, assists, whatever is needed. He's doing whatever it takes for the team to win. I expect him to be a little more aggressive as we get closer to gold medal time. But aggressive for him is just being out on the court and being able to do whatever he does best, which is everything."
3. You were supposed to be playing here, but gave up your spot when you needed knee surgery after the Finals. Was it frustrating not being out there with these guys?
Wade: "Well, I'm a competitor, and I watch the games and say, 'aw, I could help there,' or 'aw, I could do that.' I see myself out there when I'm watching. In that sense, I miss it. This could have been my last Olympics [he played on the 2008 gold-medal winning team as well as the 2004 squad that took bronze], especially if they put the age limit in, and in that sense there's a little bit of regret. But our game is in great hands. Some of the young guys who have filled in for guys like me and Derrick Rose who couldn't play have done great. I don't know about you, but I've got 'em winning the gold. They're growing as a team, and I think they're going to play better with each successive game. Whether they're winning by 83 or winning by 3, 4, 5, they're finding ways to win and believing in each other."
4. You're going to be here through the weekend. Will you have a chance to catch any events besides basketball?
Wade: "I got in [Tuesday], and you can feel it immediately, the excitement from fans all around the world, and it's a chance to see some amazing athletes. I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to check out a few events. Obviously I'm going to go check out basketball and support my team but I'm also going to go catch soccer, the women's finals. I want to experience that. I've never been at a soccer game. I'm one of those guys from afar who doesn't know anything about soccer, so I want to go see what that's all about, to come up with a better appreciation of how great they are as athletes and how great their game is. It's so big around the world, I want to understand it."
5. Being from Boston, I've got to ask: You guys put the full-court recruiting pitch on Ray Allen as soon as Game 7 was over, didn't you?
Wade: Laughs. "Nah, but you know, when you get a chance to add one of the best shooters in history, the best 3-point shooter in history, and you're adding him and making your team better while at the same time hurting one of your biggest rivals, you're pretty happy when it works out. Ray's going to give us another element in our offense, another weapon, and he's really going to enjoy the golf courses, I know that."
Ruben Sanca, the former O'Bryant High and UMass-Lowell runner who grew up in Dorchester, finished last in his heat of the men's 5,000 meters at the Olympics on Wednesday and did not qualify for Saturday's final.
Sanca, competing for Cape Verde, finished in 14 minutes, 35.19 seconds in the second heat. Top qualifer Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia had a time of 13:15.15.
Before the race, Boston.com Olympics intern Amy Gorel interviewed Sanca in London about his experience at the Olympics. Her video report is above, story below.
Former University of Massachusetts Lowell runner Ruben Sanca said that his goal at the London 2012 Olympic Games was to make the final for the 5,000 meter race.
“If that happens, I think, for myself, that would be almost like winning a gold medal,” said Sanca outside the Olympic Village just a few days before his first race.
Sanca, 25, is representing Cape Verde.
“I’m honored to be here for my country and I hope to inspire other people from my country to keep running and try to reach this level,” Sanca said.
Sanca emigrated from Cape Verde at the age of 12 to settle in Boston, where he attended O’Bryant High School and began to take his running career seriously.
“A lot of my older teammates from high school who knew from day one, when I stepped into practice in ninth grade, that I was going to take it serious—I really wanted to do the best that I could for the sport. And I’m happy to be here as a celebration, not just for me, but also for them—my teammates and coaches,” he said.
He later ran at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where he received his MBA and works as business manager for student affairs. He took vacation time to travel to London for the Games.
Sanca, a first time Olympian, made it to London as a wild card selection for Cape Verde.
“This shows that most of my work is paying off. I’m able to go back and say I have to do this because I’m an Olympian,” Sanca said.
Making it to the London Olympics is not something Sanca and his coach, Gary Gardner, envisioned when they began working together six years ago.
“But it’s nice to be here and a blessing for both of us to get to this level,” Gardner said.
Sanca did not expect much recognition when he first arrived in London.
“Especially at games, there are always people trying to get autographs. I’m not a medalist or anything, but people still, because you’re an Olympian, try to get autographs,” Sanca explained smiling.
One of his favorite memories so far was entering the Olympic Stadium for Opening Ceremonies, where he described hundreds of thousands of children along the track asking for autographs and high-fives.
Living in the Olympic Village, surrounded by other athletes with similar stories, has been inspiring, said Sanca.
“The Olympians that are here, some of them have really inspiring stories about how they got here and it’s really cool to hear their stories and say ‘Hey, we’ve been through the same thing’.”
At the same time, those athletes are out in the arenas breaking records and winning medals.
“Then they come back to the dining hall and you’re like ‘Oh, that’s the girl that just broke the world record',” Sanca said.
Sanca said his family and friends were unable to travel to London to see his event. Nevertheless, his family was able to see him walk during the Opening Ceremony and was planning to watch his performance online.
Coach Gardner said e-mails, Twitter and Facebook messages have been pouring in with support and well wishes from both Massachusetts and Cape Verde.
Sanca said being at the Olympics will make him more confident in his training because “I know I’m supposed to be here for my next Olympics."
LONDON -- Welcome to Day 12 of competition, during which eight sports will award medals, including four in athletics. Athletics sounds way more official than calling it track and field, doesn't it? I'm gonna go with it.
Wednesday's must-see event: Allyson Felix's run of success in the 200 meters is prolonged and impressive. She won world titles in the event in 2005, '07 and '09, and she owns a pair of silver medals in the event from 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing. Wednesday she is favored to wind up one step higher on the podium.
Felix, who won one of three semifinal heats Tuesday in a time of 22.31 seconds, will have some competition from teammate Carmelita Jeter and Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown, who won gold in the event during the previous two Summer Games.
But it would be a major surprise if Felix doesn't capture the gold.
Athletics medals are also up for grabs in the women's 400-meter hurdles and long jump and the men's 110-meter hurdles, while the US's Ashton Eaton will be among the athletes competing in the first day of the decathlon, which begins with five events.
Also worth watching: Beach volleyball at the Horse Guards Parade venue sometimes seems more like party central than the site of serious athletic competition. But the place is certain to have the latter vibe Wednesday when the all-American final featuring decorated duo Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings take on the lesser- known tandem of Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, who upset top-seeded Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta Silva of Brazil in the semifinals,
It's not a rivalry in the truest sense because the scale tips entirely in May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings's direction when overall accomplishments are weighed -- they've won the previous two gold medals and have won their last 20 Olympic matches. But both tandems are motivated beyond the obvious desire to win gold. This is the last hurrah for May-Treanor, who is retiring after the Olympics, and the last scene of the script isn't supposed to include departing in defeat. As for Kessy and Ross, they are propelled by the chance to seize some of the spotlight focused on their more decorated countrywomen, has Sports Illustrated's Phil Taylor notes:
There is some edge to the relationship. Kessy and Ross have watched May-Treanor/Walsh Jennings get far more media attention than they have, or any other team for that matter, and though they can't argue that it is undeserved, they would like to serve notice that there is another women's team worth everyone's notice.
They'll get that notice today. What remains to be seen is whether it will come because they defeated May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings, or because they were their final victim.
Tuesday's big story: Aly Raisman sure has a knack for memorable endings. The Needham native was the anchor when the US women clinched the team gymnastics gold, and Tuesday, she wrapped up her Olympic experience with a pair of medals, winning the gold in the floor exercise and bronze in the balance beam. While charismatic teammate Gabby Douglas was the all-around champion and has the Corn Flakes box to prove it, Raisman's superb performance in London -- particularly her daring in the floor exercise, when she ratcheted her degree of difficulty up to 6.5 and then nailed her routine -- will not be forgotten.
Tweet of the day: "Yay Aly, Gold for Floor Exercise! Go USA!!" -- @SamuelLJackson, Needham's Aly Raisman won the gold Tuesday. Yes, that Samuel L. Jackson, whose habitual tweeting on the Olympics has been an absolute riot. Jules Winnfield, Olympics junkie. Who would have suspected?
Mind the gap, and stick around right here for further updates throughout the day.