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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Celebs React to Neil Armstrong's Death: The Stars and the Moon Man

Neil ArmstrongWhen legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong passed away Saturday at age 82, the responses from celebrities were out of this world.

After all, who better to praise the moon walker than the stars? Each offered one small tweet for a man, one giant outpouring of love for a legend.

Check out a few of our faves:
Neil Armstrong's final mission, may he rest in peace

Ryan Seacrest: "Thanks Neil Armstrong for bringing the moon into our living rooms & curiosity into our minds. One giant loss for mankind."

Seth Green‏: RIP Neil Armstrong. Proof that humans can always push further. http://say.ly/pVU42Mu

 Ashley Judd: How poetic that in the month of #NeilArmstrong passing, there will be a BlueMoon.

Rob Lowe: Neil Armstrong: One giant leap…to the arms of God. #OhioHero #Wapokonetta
George Takei: "With him, we all took one giant leap towards the heavens. Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong, as you rejoin them.

Barack Obama: Neil Armstrong was a hero not just of his time, but of all time. Thank you, Neil, for showing us the power of one small step. -bo

Mitt Romney: Neil Armstrong today takes his place in the hall of heroes. The moon will miss its first son of earth.

Kevin Smith: "I salute you, NEIL ARMSTRONG! Thanks for your courage & class! You showed the galaxy how far a kid from Ohio could boldly go. #GoodNightMoon"

Josh Duhamel: "One of our greatest heroes died today. RIP Neil Armstrong"

Alyssa Milano: "Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong. You are such an inspiration."

Simon Pegg: "Just heard Neil Armstrong took the giant leap. RIP a true modern hero and conqueror of the moon. Will be ever remembered."

Bruce Boxleitner: "The greatest of American heroes has passed away, the first man to step on the moon 1969. Neil Armstrong, the eagle has landed. RIP"

Dane Cook: The 1st human being to ever walk on another planet [sic] Neil Armstrong. #RIP
Wil Wheaton: "One great moment of silence for mankind. Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong."

Pee-wee Herman: Goodbye, Neil Armstrong - courageous pioneer and hero.

Reba McEntire: My thoughts and prayers go out to the Neil Armstrong family. He was a super guy. 82 years old. Thanks for all you did for us, Neil!!!

David Copperfield: He proved that the sky is no longer the limit. Every dream, no matter how big, starts with just one small step. A legend. Neil Armstrong.

Al Roker: From Neil Armstrong's family: the next time you walk out on a clear night and see the moon smiling, think of Neil and give him a wink.

Neil Armstrong carried Argentine 
soccer team pennant to the Moon

Astronaut Neil Armstrong, who died earlier this weekend, carried a pennant belonging to Argentina's Independiente de Avellaneda on his history-making 1969 trip to the Moon.

Armstrong, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 82 due to complications from recent heart surgery, confirmed during a November 1969 trip to Buenos Aires that he carried the souvenir to the Moon.

The first man to walk on the Moon visited Argentina's capital along with Apollo 11 crewmates Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins as part of a global tour organized by NASA.

Armstrong landed on the Moon with Aldrin on July 20, 1969, in the lunar module Eagle while Collins circled overhead aboard the command module Columbia.

The space pioneer said he had carried the pennant to the Moon, confirming statements by team officials that had been called into question by the public in Argentina at the time.

Hector Rodriguez, who served as Independiente's public affairs chief at the time, proposed making Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins honorary partners in the team before Apollo 11's voyage to the Moon.

"If they are going to be the greatest heroes of the century, they have to be Independiente partners," Rodriguez said at the time.

Team management agreed to the deal and the three astronauts were registered as partners, with Aldrin as No. 80,399, Armstrong as No. 80,400 and Collins as No. 80,401.

Identification cards bearing photos provided by the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires were sent to the United States along with club pennants and gear for the astronauts' children.

Armstrong thanked the team for its gesture in a May 1969 letter and said he wished to "be able to visit Buenos Aires soon and that circumstances will allow me to accept your invitation to visit the club," an event that never took place.

Rodriguez was invited to a reception held for the astronauts in Buenos Aires by U.S. Ambassador to Argentina John Davis Lodge.

Armstrong said during the reception that the Independiente pennant brought the astronauts good luck on the trip to the Moon, The story makes partners and fans of Independiente, which has won a record seven Libertadores Cups, proud.

The team, however, is currently struggling and could be relegated from Argentina's First Division, something that has never happened before. EFE

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Prince Harry's nude photographs 'genuine'


Prince Harry's spokesman has confirmed that naked photographs of him with a group of women he met at a luxury Las Vegas hotel are legitimate.

Prince Harry Naked in Las Vegas.

The photos surfaced when TMZ reported that the prince had picked up a group of women at his hotel's bar before inviting them to his VIP suite.

Once the entourage made it up to the room they reportedly played a game of strip billiards before ending up fully nude.

Prince Harry's spokesman at Clarence House confirmed to the Daily Mail that the pictures were genuine but said they would not be commenting.

See the 'Prince Harry' photos on TMZ

One of the photographs shows the prince cupping his genitals with a woman hiding behind him.

Another photo shows him bear-hugging a naked woman from behind as she holds a pool cue.

Earlier this week Prince Harry was photographed partying in Las Vegas and challenging US Olympian Ryan Lochte to a swimming race.

Prince Harry Partying Nude in Las Vegas.
Prince Harry put the crown jewels on display in Vegas this weekend ... getting BARE ASS NAKED during a game of strip billiards with a room full of friends in his VIP suite. 
It all went down Friday night during a raging party in a high rollers hotel suite.

We're told Harry, along with a large entourage, went down to the hotel bar and met a bunch of hot chicks ... and invited them up to his VIP suite. 

Once in the room, things got WILD ... with the group playing a game of strip pool that quickly escalated into full-on royal nudity. 

Some of the partiers snapped photos of the madness. In one photo, a fully nude Harry cups his genitals while a seemingly topless woman stands behind him. 

In another photo, a naked Harry is bear-hugging a woman who appears to be completely naked as well. 

No word on who the women are ... or if they got Harry's phone number.

A rep for the Royal Family tells us, "We have no comment to make on the photos at this time."

Author: Emily Crane, Approving editor: Nick Pearson

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rihanna Admits Having A 'Very Close Friendship' With Chris Brown (Video)

Rihanna Tells Oprah She Still Loves Chris Brown In ‘Next Chapter’ Interview

rihanna oprah 3

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Rihanna still has a place in her heart for Chris Brown, given their recent musical collaborations and the fact that the Barbadian diva cried over the loss of her “best friend” in a preview for her Oprah’s Next Chapter interview. But many viewers of the episode (which aired last night) probably still found it hard to swallow when RiRi admitted out loud — and on air for the world to hear — that she still loves Brown.

“I think he was the love of my life. He was the first love and I see that he loved me the same way,” Rihanna told Oprah Winfrey during their interview in Barbados. “We were very young and very spontaneous. We ran free. We ran wild. We were falling in love going in at a really rapid pace and we forgot about ourselves as individuals.”

Rihanna Oprah Barbados

Rihanna Oprah Barbados

Rihanna Oprah Barbados

Rihanna Oprah Barbados

Rihanna Oprah Barbados

Rihanna Oprah Barbados

Rihanna Tears Up Over Chris Brown In New ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’ Interview Preview

Recalling the night in February 2009 when she faced violence at the hands of then-boyfriend Chris Brown is likely something Rihanna will have to do privately for the rest of her life. But while speaking with Oprah Winfrey in Barbados for her upcoming Oprah’s Next Chapter interview, the “Where Have You Been” songstress teared up and attempted to describe how she tried to mentally process her feelings for Brown after that notorious incident.

“I lost my best friend,” Rihanna tells Winfrey through tears in a new preview for the episode. “Like, everything I knew switched — switched overnight. And I couldn’t control that, so I had to deal with that, and that’s not easy for me to understand or interpret. And it’s not easy to interpret on camera. Not with the world watching.”

In the clip, Rihanna goes on to say the following: “It became a circus and I felt protective. I felt like the only person they hate right now is him. It was a weird, confusing space to be in because as angry as I was, as angry and hurt and betrayed, I just felt like he made that mistake because he needed help… Nobody’s gonna say he needs help. Everybody’s gonna say he’s a monster.”

For many fans of RiRi, it’s been hard to see her shed tears over the man who so brutally beat her three years ago. Likewise, many of her followers were perplexed earlier this year when rumors began to surface that the two had not only reconciled, but gotten back together as a couple, following their musical collaborations on remixes of “Birthday Cake” and “Turn Up The Music”.

Rihanna’s full interview with Oprah airs on OWN this Sunday, at 9 p.m. EST. Perhaps we’ll all get more incite as to her frame of mind when it comes to her ex(?)-boyfriend when the episode airs in its entirety.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Winning Powerball Ticket Sold in Michigan (Video)

A Powerball ticket sold in Michigan matched all five numbers, including the Powerball number, to win the jackpot, estimated at $337 million, according to Powerball.com.

PHOTO: A merchant rings up Powerball lottery tickets for customers at a cigarette store.

Andi Brancato, a Michigan lottery spokesman, told ABC News Radio that the winning ticket was sold at a Sunoco gas station in Lapeer. There has been no word yet on the identity of the lucky winner.

Wednesday night's winning numbers were 6, 27, 46, 51, 56 and the Powerball was 21.

"We had the single winning ticket sold in Michigan. ... So we are waiting now to hear from the winner. That could happen at any time," said Brancato.

There was also one Match 5 winning ticket in Nebraska that won $2 million, and seven Match 5 winning tickets in Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Virginia that won $1 million.

It was the third-largest Powerball jackpot in the lottery's history, according to Brancato. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are one in 175 million, and the odds of winning any prize are one in 31, according to Powerball.com.

The national drawing is held in 42 states, including the District of Columbia. No one has won the big Powerball prize since June 23, when a couple from Connecticut won $60 million.

Lapeer Mayor Bill Sprague called the fact that the winning ticket was purchased in his town "money from heaven."

Sprague said income tax for Lapeer residents is 1 percent, which would go a long way in this blue collar city. Even if the winner only works in Lapeer, Sprague believes the city is entitled to one half percent of the haul -- still at least a million dollars.

Today is also the first day of the Lapeer Days festival, which has been going on for about 100 years and attracts close to 200,000 people to town over its four days. The festival was originally held to celebrate the harvest, but now, on top of bringing the community together, it helps local charities to raise money.

Sprague believes with all the media attention paid to the winning Powerball ticket, more people will come to the festival this year, bringing in even more needed money.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New earthquake jolts Southern California

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.5 was reported this morning in Orange County, Calif., just hours after a 4.4-magnitude temblor and several aftershocks struck in nearby Yorba Linda, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

“It’s all just part of the normal seismic activity of California,” John Bellini, a geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey told NBC News. “Earthquakes of this size don’t cause a lot of damage.” 

The Orange County quake struck at 9:33 a.m. PT this morning. The night before, at 11:23 p.m., a 4.4-magnitude quake rattled the Yorba Linda area. At 11:25 p.m., a quake estimated at magnitude 2.7 struck in the same area, centered two miles from Yorba Linda. The third temblor -- a magnitude 1.2 -- struck at about 11:41 p.m. and was centered one mile from Yorba Linda.

Five more quakes followed in the next 50 minutes, USGS reported. All of them were within two miles of Yorba Linda and ranged from magnitude 1.4 to 2.1.

The Orange County quake's epicenter was located five miles from Placentia, six miles from Chino Hills, and eight miles from Orange.

There were no injuries or damage immediately reported following the quake, Bellini said, adding that many people may not even notice an earthquake of this size.  

After Tuesday night’s quakes, all fire resources were placed in "Emergency Earthquake Mode," Matt Spence of the Los Angeles Fire Department said in an email statement.

Firefighters from all 106 neighborhood stations on Tuesday night were surveying 470 square miles in the Greater Los Angeles area, Spence said, inspecting residential buildings, schools, powerlines and transportation infrastructures.

By 12:15 a.m., the Emergency Earthquake Mode was lifted and fire officials said they did not find any signficant damage or reports of injuries.

Hundreds of NBCLosAngeles.com Twitter followers and Facebook fans reported feeling the Yorba Linda quake.

"Strong jolts in Whittier. Not looking forward to any after shocks," YeaMe Ceazon wrote on the NBCLA Facebook page.

The shallow quake was felt from the Inland Empire to the coast. Residents in Fontana, Anaheim, Torrance, Hollywood, Long Beach and Burbank also reported feeling the quake.

"I suddenly heard a loud thud coming from what sounded like the roof on my garage and then the whole garage started shaking and creaking," said Jose, in Burbank.

"I started to feel my bed shake and I was like, not again, and then I heard it pop, like a popping sound. And it just kept shaking, shaking, shaking and soon as I got up to get dressed it stopped," said Daphne, in Bellflower.

"I was lying on my livingroom floor of my mobile home in Hermosa Beach, watching the Olympics, when I felt some distinct shaking, light shaking, but it felt like a steady 10-second or so shaking," Karen told NBCLosAngeles.com in an email.

Monday, August 6, 2012

NASA's rover Curiosity lands on Mars (VIDEO)

One of the first images taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars early Monday, August 6. The clear dust cover that protected the camera during landing has been sprung open. Part of the spring that released the dust cover can be seen at the bottom right, near the rover's wheel.

(CNN) -- NASA's rover Curiosity successfully carried out a highly challenging landing on Mars early Monday, transmitting images back to Earth after traveling hundreds of millions of miles through space in order to explore the Red Planet.

The $2.6 billion Curiosity made its dramatic arrival on Martian terrain in a spectacle popularly known as the "seven minutes of terror."

This jaw-dropping landing process, involving a sky crane and the world's largest supersonic parachute, allowed the spacecraft carrying Curiosity to target the landing area that scientists had meticulously chosen.

The mission control in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California burst into cheers as the rover touched down. Team members hugged and high-fived one another as Curiosity beamed back the first pictures from the planet, some shed tears.

Another of the first images beamed back from NASA's Curiosity rover on August 6 is the shadow cast by the rover on the surface of Mars.

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover, shown in this artist's rendering, touched down on the planet on August 6.

"The successful landing of Curiosity -- the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet -- marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future," President Barack Obama said in a statement congratulating the NASA employees who had worked on the project.

The scientific community reacted to the achievement with a mixture of elation and relief.

"Rationally I know it was supposed to work all along, but emotionally it always seemed completely crazy," said James Wray, assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, who is affiliated with the science team of Curiosity. "So to see all those steps being ticked off and actually working, it's a huge relief."

The initial images the SUV-sized rover sent back to Earth were black and white and grainy, but one showed its wheel resting on the stony ground and the vehicle's shadow appeared in another. Larger color images are expected later in the week, NASA said.

The spacecraft had been traveling away from Earth since November 26 on a journey of approximately 352 million miles (567 million kilometers), according to NASA.

Curiosity, which will be controlled from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has a full suite of sophisticated tools for exploring Mars. They include 17 cameras, a laser that can survey the composition of rocks from a distance and instruments that can analyze samples from soil or rocks.

The aim of its work is "to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms," NASA says.

Meet a rover driver: His car is on Mars

Curiosity's first stop is Gale Crater, which may have once contained a lake. After at least a year, the rover will arrive at Mount Sharp, in the center of the crater. The rover will drive up the mountain examining layers of sediment. This process is like looking at a historical record because each layer represents an era of the planet's history, scientists say.

The phenomenon of sedimentary layers is remarkably similar to what is seen on Earth, in California's Death Valley or in Montana's Glacier National Park, says John Grotzinger, chief scientist of the Mars Science Laboratory mission.

Rocks and minerals found on Earth are different than on Mars, but the idea of a mountain made of layers is familiar to scientists. Unlike on Earth, however, Mars has no plate tectonics, so the Martian layers are flat and not disrupted as they would be on Earth. That also means that Mount Sharp was formed in a different way than how mountains are created on Earth -- no one knows how.

Images: Exploring Mars

In these layers, scientists are looking for organic molecules, which are necessary to create life. But even if Curiosity finds them, that's not proof that life existed -- after all, these molecules are found in bus exhaust and meteorites, too, says Steve Squyres, part of the Mars Science Laboratory science team.

If there aren't any organics, that may suggest there's something on the planet destroying these molecules, said Wray, of Georgia Tech. But if Curiosity detects them, Wray said, that might help scientists move from asking, "Was Mars ever habitable?" to "Did Mars actually host life?"

Curiosity's mission is also significant in an era when NASA's budgets are shrinking and China is becoming more ambitious in its space exploration program.

"I feel like it's a signal that we have the capability to do big and exciting things in the future." said Carol Paty, assistant professor at Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. "You can't not be excited."

Liquid water is not something scientists expect to be apparent on Mars because the planet is so cold and dry, Squyres said. If the planet does harbor liquid water today, it would have to be deep below the surface, perhaps peeking out in a few special places, but not likely to be seen by Curiosity, Squyres said.

Rover to search for clues to life on Mars

It's hard to know how long ago liquid water would have been there because there's no mechanism to date the rocks that rovers find on Mars, Squyres said.

Evidence from the spacecraft NASA has sent to Mars so far suggests that the "warm and wet" period on Mars lasted for the first billion years of the planet's history.

"In order to create life, you need both the right environmental conditions -- which includes liquid water -- and you need the building blocks from which life is built, which includes organics," Squyres said. The Mars Science Laboratory is a precursor mission to sharper technology that could do life detection, Grotzinger said.

There aren't specific molecules that scientists are looking for with Curiosity. The attitude is: "Let's go to an interesting place with good tools and find out what's there," Squyres said.

What do you think about the Mars mission? Go to iReport

Curiosity is supposed to last for two years on Mars, but it may operate longer -- after all, Spirit and Opportunity, which arrived on Mars in 2004, were each only supposed to last 90 Martian days. Spirit stopped communicating with NASA in 2010 after getting stuck in sand, and Opportunity is still going.

"You take what Mars gives you," said Squyres, also the lead scientist on the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, which includes Spirit and Opportunity. "If we knew what we were going to find, it wouldn't be this much fun."

Water-ice clouds, polar ice and other geographic features can be seen in this full-disk image of Mars from 2011.

This image was captured in 1976 by Viking 2, one of two probes sent to investigate the surface of Mars for the first time. NASA's Viking landers blazed the trail for future missions to Mars.

The Valles Marineris rift system on Mars is 10 times longer, five times deeper and 20 times wider than the Grand Canyon. This composite image was made aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which launched in 2001.

The Nili Fossae region of Mars is one of the largest exposures of clay minerals discovered by the OMEGA spectrometer on Mars Express Orbiter. This image was taken in 2007 as part of a campaign to examine more than two dozen potential landing sites for NASA's new Mars rover, Curiosity, also known as the NASA Mars Science Laboratory.

Phoenix's robotic arm scoops up a sample on June 10, 2008, the 16th Martian day after landing. The lander's solar panel is seen in the lower left.

The European Space Agency's Mars Express captured this view of Valles Marineris in 2004. The area shows mesas and cliffs as well as features that indicate erosion from flowing water.

This view is a vertical projection that combines more than 500 exposures taken by Phoenix in 2008. The black circle on the spacecraft is where the camera itself is mounted.

A portion of the west rim of the Endeavour crater sweeps southward in this view from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity in 2011. The crater is 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) across.

A photo captured by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor in 2000 offers evidence that the planet may have been a land of lakes in its earliest period, with layers of Earth-like sedimentary rock that could harbor the fossils of any ancient Martian life.

A U.S. flag and a DVD containing a message for future explorers of Mars, science fiction stories and art about the planet, and the names of 250,000 people sit on the deck of Phoenix in 2008.

A rock outcrop dubbed Longhorn and the sweeping plains of the Gusev crater are seen in a 2004 image taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit.

Although it is 45 kilometers (28 miles) wide, countless layers of ice and dust have all but buried the Udzha crater on Mars. The crater lies near the edge of the northern polar cap. This image was taken by NASA's Mars Odyssey Orbiter in 2010.

NASA's Opportunity examines rocks inside an alcove called Duck Bay in the western portion of the Victoria crater in 2007.

Pictured is a series of troughs and layered mesas in the Gorgonum Chaos region of Mars in 2008. This photo was taken by Mars Orbiter Camera on the Mars Global Surveyor.

An image captured in 2008 by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows at least four Martian avalanches, or debris falls, taking place. Material, likely including fine-grained ice and dust and possibly large blocks, detached from a towering cliff and cascaded to the gentler slopes below.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Serena Williams and Bryan Brothers Win, Earning Golden Slam

LONDON — It was Saturday afternoon at Wimbledon, and Serena Williams, Olympic gold medal already around her neck, spotted Bob and Mike Bryan heading for their final on Centre Court.

“She said, ‘Guys, come on!’ ” Bob Bryan said. “And she gave me like a fist and this really tough face, and I thought, ‘We have to adopt that persona.’ ”

It was a fine model to follow.

Williams, who has dominated many a tournament in her remarkable emotional roller coaster of a career, has perhaps never been more dominant than she was in singles at these Olympics.

“I honestly don’t think I have ever played better from start to finish,” she said.

In six matches, she did not come close to losing a set and came very close to not losing a game in the final against Maria Sharapova, a four-time Grand Slam singles champion and former world No. 1 who is one of the most ferocious competitors and most aggressive baseliners in the women’s game.

Sharapova, representing Russia in her first Olympics, shrieked and hustled. She maintained her focus and her composure, but Williams was simply in a different league.

Her 6-0, 6-1 victory required just 1 hour 3 minutes.

“One of the most dominating performances in the history of the sport,” said Jay Berger, the men’s tennis coach of the United States Olympic team. “She just showed she’s the best player in the world right now.”

The rankings still do not confirm that. Victoria Azarenka, who won the bronze medal here, will still be No. 1 and Sharapova still No. 2 come Monday, but Williams, who will be No. 4, has taken full advantage of the historic opportunity to play for big titles twice on the grass of the All England Club this summer.

After winning Wimbledon last month, she capitalized on her return visit to win her first Olympic singles gold medal. Williams had already won gold medals in doubles in 2000 and 2008, but at age 30, she now has the last major singles prize she lacked.

“I love bling-bling but this is like the ultimate,” Williams said, fingering her gold medal.

Williams withdrew from the 2004 Olympics because of a left knee injury. She was beaten in the singles quarterfinals in 2008 in Beijing. But she was an unstoppable force here: losing an astonishing 17 games in six matches and never being pushed beyond 6-3 in any set.

“Basically, she took the momentum from Wimbledon and improved on it,” said Patrick Mouratoglou, the French coach who began advising Williams after her shocking first-round defeat at the French Open in May.

Since then, she has not lost a match, winning Wimbledon, flying to the West Coast to win in Stanford, Calif., then returning to Europe to win the Olympics.

For a star who has often played sparingly during her career, this was working overtime, but it worked beautifully — jet lag or no jet lag — for Williams.

“Look, she playing incredibly confident tennis,” said Sharapova, who has lost eight consecutive matches to Williams. “After winning Wimbledon, you’ve seen her level progress so much here over this tournament. With every match she’s played, she’s playing better, hitting harder, so much power on the ball. Even against the wind today, her shots were very powerful. I mean, she’s done an incredible job of keeping that up.”

At one stage late in the first set, Williams had as many aces as Sharapova did points. In the end, she finished with 10 aces and 24 total winners and — most remarkable of all for those who have followed Williams’s first-strike tactics over the years — just seven unforced errors.

 And yet it was not quite a perfect occasion. During the medal ceremony, as a recording of the national anthem of the United States was played, the flag of the United States broke loose from its horizontal pole in the gusting wind and unceremoniously floated to the ground, landing behind the fence separating the clubhouse from the court.

The other two flags — those of Russia and Belarus — remained affixed to their poles as the ceremony concluded. Williams kept her composure and later explained that the incident had not spoiled her long-awaited moment.

But there was a second chance to get the ceremony just right — Star Spangled Banner and flag included — after the Bryans followed Williams’s lead and defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra of France in the men’s doubles final.

Their 6-4, 7-6 (2) victory gave them, at age 34, their first Olympic gold medal after winning all of the other major titles in tennis, including the Davis Cup with the United States in 2007.

“This is the top of the mountain for us,” Bob Bryan said. “Winning Wimbledon was awesome, but this is a different level.”

Friday, August 3, 2012

Aly Raisman Looks Ahead to Her Remaining Olympic Events

Aly Raisman Looks Ahead to Her Remaining Olympic Events

Aly Raisman has long been known as a mentally tough, incredibly consistent gymnast. 

So it was quite a shock for fans to see Raisman, 18, make a major, uncharacteristic error in the women's gymnastics all-around final on Thursday, leaving her just shy of a medal. 

But Raisman's Olympic experience isn't over yet. She'll compete on the balance beam and floor individual finals on Tuesday. 

"I'm really excited about that," Raisman (who won team gold earlier in the week) told reporters after a tie-breaker left her off the podium Thursday. "I'm just going to keep working hard and move past it." 

"It is what it is, it's a learning experience," she added. "I'm only human – everyone makes mistakes." 

Her coach had a more detailed explanation. "When it is about the team, she's giving everything," says Mihai Brestyan. "When it's about herself, something gets wrong there. I don't know what. It's a shame. But being third [or] fourth in the world, in Olympic Games, still it's a good thing even if you don’t have the medal on your neck."
The Jordyn Wieber Factor?

Brestyan says he also wonders whether the drama over Jordyn Wieber (who is blogging for People.com) being edged out of the all-around had something to do with Raisman's performance. (Each country can only send two athletes to the all-around, so despite high scores, Wieber was bumped by Raisman and Gabby Douglas's higher scores.) 

Before the all-around competition, "She was fine, she did her normal routine, her warm up was perfect – I don't know what happened," says Brestyan. "The big pressure was, you take Jordyn's place first and everybody feels bad because you take the World Champion's place. They are not happy for you, they are mad for Jordyn, and you feel really bad and you carry this with you."

"You come here to prove yourself ... and you are more under pressure than anybody else, and this is part of that. I try to encourage her. She's usually very calm and studied in her execution." 

Team coordinator Marta Karolyi weighed in as well, telling reporters, "Oh, I'm extremely disappointed for Aly. She is so calm and so solid. I honestly could not know what happened. Just hitting her normal routine, she would be categorically on [the podium]. It was a little bit of a mental break." 

But Raisman isn't making any excuses as she reflects on the medal she missed – demonstrating an impressive display of sportsmanship in the process. 

"I was hoping they'd give [me and Aliya Mustafina] both the bronze medal, but obviously they didn't, so it's definitely upsetting, but I'm still happy for the girls who were on the podium," says the gymnast. "I'm happy for Gabby and really excited for her." 

Gabby Douglas poised to reap sponsorship windfall after London Olympics - VIDEO

Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Gabby Douglas won her second gymnastics gold medal, an American first, and is poised to reap a sponsorship windfall after the London Olympics.

By adding the all-around title yesterday to the team crown she helped the U.S. win two days earlier, the 16-year-old from Virginia Beach, Virginia, became the first American woman to win both golds at a single Olympics.
Douglas -- nicknamed the “Flying Squirrel” -- would be a great saleswoman for everything from toothpaste to cosmetics to airline tickets, said Bob Dorfman, executive creative director at San Francisco-based Baker Street Advertising.

“All-around gold means serious green for Douglas, in the neighborhood of at least one to three million dollars a year,” Dorfman said in an e-mail interview. “The U.S. gymnastics darling always seems to be the girl who comes out with the greatest endorsement success after the games.”

Douglas beat Victoria Komova of Russia to win the title at the North Greenwich Arena. Russia’s Aliya Mustafina won the bronze medal in a tiebreaker over Aly Raisman of the U.S. after they finished with the same score.

Douglas’s win marked the third straight all-around title for a U.S. woman at the Olympics following Nastia Liukin in 2008 and Carly Patterson in 2004. Mary Lou Retton is the only other American woman to win the all-around, at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

‘Success Story’

“It really is that great American success story,” Peter Shankman, founder of the Geek Factory marketing firm in New York, said in a telephone interview. “As soon as she won, she put her hand on her heart. How can that photo not be on the back page of every paper in America?”

Douglas, who also won the U.S. Olympic trials all-around title, led the competition from her vault in the first round. The crowd drowned out the announcer’s voice as she was welcomed to the floor for the final routine that would seal the American’s second gold medal.

“A lot was going through my mind, I was like, ’Yes all the hard work has paid off,’” Douglas told reporters after the medal ceremony. “I was speechless. Tears of joy and just waving to the crowd.”

The Americans won the team event for the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games earlier this week, led by Raisman, the squad’s captain, who performed the final floor exercise that sealed gold for the U.S.

U.S. First

Never before had U.S. women gymnasts won the team and all- around competitions at the same Olympics. That may change now, according to Douglas.

“I think we can go on for a very long time,” she told reporters. “Team USA and United States of America are very strong, we have some very good gymnasts, so it’s going to continue.”

Douglas and her Olympic teammates will make a base salary of more than $100,000 each for participating in the 40-city Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions that begins Sept. 8 in San Jose, California, and ends Nov. 18 in Brooklyn, New York.

Steve Penny, the president of USA Gymnastics, said before the Olympics that gymnasts who won team or individual medals at the London Games could earn as much as $500,000 each on the tour.

American Flags

The 4-foot-11 (1.50-meter) Douglas beamed as she completed each dismount, routine and flourish during the final. American flags outnumbered the host nation’s Union Jack among the crowd in Greenwich.

“Her fresh face is perfect for a cosmetics deal, her infectious smile could sell toothpaste, and her nickname -- The Flying Squirrel -- is ideal for any airline,” Dorfman said. “Ka-ching. That’s the sound of America’s newest gymnastics darling being born.”