The lighter side of the Olympic Games

A look at the lighter side of the Olympic Games:

LONDON - American gymnast Gabby Douglas says she woke up at 6am the day after winning the women's gymnastics all-around and "went on a tweeting mission".

Douglas also googled herself, reading all the headlines and scrolling through the photo galleries of her gold-medal winning performance on Thursday.

"I googled 'Gabby Douglas' and everything popped up," she said.

"People tell me this is very big news and it's not hit me.

Douglas reportedly wants to use her new celebrity status to meet Usain Bolt and Serena Williams before the London Olympics are over.


LONDON - Sir Chris Hoy's fifth Olympic gold will be given the stamp of approval.

Victorious Britons taking the top accolade at London 2012 will be commemorated with a series of special stamps by Royal Mail.

Sir Chris and team-mates Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny joined the collection today along with sharp-shooter Peter Wilson and the two-man slalom team of Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie.

Five-times Olympic champion Sir Chris is seen taking the corner of the Velodrome with Hindes and Kenny on their way to equalling Sir Steve Redgrave's record haul.

Wilson, a 25-year-old farmer's son from Dorset, is seen taking aim as he landed Britain's first shooting medal in 12 years.

And Stott and Baillie are seen with looks of fierce determination on their faces as they their way to the finish at the Lee Valley White Water Centre.

The stamps will be on sale by lunchtime tomorrow in more than 500 post offices across the UK and Royal Mail will also paint post boxes gold in their home towns to celebrate their wins.


LONDON - Yao Ming still stands out in a crowd, even though the former NBA basketball star no longer is playing.

He's at the London Olympics working for a Chinese broadcaster, and that means riding the buses like everyone else in the media.

At 7-foot-6 (2.32 metres), his shoulders and head tower over everyone else on a bus even while sitting down.

That doesn't mean everyone recognises him.

Told Yao just walked past him, a volunteer said, "Oh that was Yao Ming? Well, he was over 7-feet tall."


LONDON - Olympic athletes used to win medals. Now they just "medal."

Commentators and competitors, it seems, can't stop using it as a verb.

Cue fury on Twitter, with many decrying "medalled" and "medalling" as bad English.

Step forward John Simpson, chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Get used to it, he says.

The OED has long recognised "medal" as a verb. It even cites the earliest example of it from a letter written by Lord Byron in 1822.

What's more, Simpson adds, podium - as in "she podiumed" - could soon join it. "It is not unlikely for it to switch to a verb," he says.

Grammarians may grumble - but it has led to at least one joke.

"All I wanted was a gold medal," says the Scooby-Doo villain. "And I would have gotten away with it - had it not been for those medaling kids."


LONDON - There are heavyweights and then there are heavyweights.

And then there's Ricardo Blas.

The judo fighter from Guam weighs in at 480 pounds (218 kilos), nearly double most other competitors in the 220-pound and over division. And in a sport that requires competitors to push, throw and grapple with each other, all that bulk can be a distinct advantage.

Murmurs of wonder and a few "Who's that?" rippled through the crowd as Blas bounded onto the mat.

Blas's opponent, Guinea's Facinet Keita was a big man himself at 297 pounds (135 kilos), but he seemed out of ideas on how to take down the behemoth in their opening round match. The men slowly grappled and pulled at each other like giant tortoises until Blas ended the battle with a throw.

But the good times didn't last long. In the next round, Cuba's Oscar Brayson, a veritable stick figure at just 238 pounds (108 kilos) ended Blas's Olympic run with an impressive take down.


LONDON - Uzbekistan weightlifter Sherzodjon Yusupov's primal pre-lift scream made him an unexpected crowd favourite at the ExCel Centre.

Yusupov lets out a short but extremely loud yell - the loudest of any weightlifter so far - before his attempts.

The crowd picked up on this and by the time Yusupov's last scream and lift came around the crowd yelled right back at him to show support.

Bouyed by the atmosphere, Yusupov cleared 195 kilograms in the clean and jerk.

He then blew kisses to the British fans, many of whom gave Yusupov a standing ovation.

"I like the atmosphere, it is very warm," he said.

"Everyone is shouting 'Yeah! Yeah!' when you lift."


LONDON - A store overlooking the Olympic Park has begun charging customers for the privilege of looking out of its main viewing window.

The John Lewis store in Westfield, which neighbours the site in Stratford, introduced the 2 charges last week.

Customers are promised "panoramic views of the London 2012 park" from the viewing gallery on the third floor.

Binoculars are on offer and visitors are treated to views of the Olympic Stadium, the Orbit tower and other venues but some customers have taken exception to the charges.

"I've come all the way down to London to see the Olympic Park," said 65-year-old Paul Atack from South Yorkshire.

"I'm surprised that I can't even get near it. The park volunteers told me to go to John Lewis but I didn't expect to be paying for it."

A spokeswoman for John Lewis confirmed the fee had been introduced.