You can’t go more than two steps in London without hearing someone talking about the Olympics. A week into the games, the city is officially immersed in Olympic culture. It’s in the air, it’s underground, it’s everywhere.
Metro has been canvassing the streets, interviewing athletes and coaches, meeting fans and snapping photos of Olympic mania so that you can feel like you’re in the center of the action.
Here’s a roundup of the best quotes and photos, with plenty of juice about Olympic Village, rivalries between teams and behind-the-scenes moments.
What’s the scoop on Olympic Village?
Kerri Walsh, U.S. beach volleyball player, on relationships forming between athletes:
“The Olympic Village is very electric. The first couple of days, it’s kinda like the first days of high school: Everyone is a little awkward, checking each other out, kind of giddy. I think there are a lot of beautiful, really good people in the village, and Olympians, and obviously there is a lot of physicality there. I think when you put boys and girls together, you’re going to have some couplings.”
Walsh shoes off her rippling abs to reporters.
Tony Azevedo, U.S. water polo player, on rooms and the food:
“Usually, you get a roommate. For some reason, maybe because I’m the captain, they gave me a single. The food is phenomenal. You walk into the dining hall and there’s like 10 little areas: India, Halal, Africa. For me, being a foodie, I love it. There’s sushi in there. I’m the happiest kid on Earth. You have to watch what you eat, though, you can’t eat too much.”
… and on whether athletes worry about sleeping on an unfamiliar mattress:
“That’s actually a big problem with our team. We have a lot of big guys on our team. I’m actually the smallest guy at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. There are a lot of guys who are 6-foot-6, 250 pounds. And those are problems that definitely arise to them. For me, I pretty much can sleep anywhere.”
Angelo Taylor, U.S. track and field athlete, on whether Olympians are partying:
“I’m here to focus. I’m a defending Olympic champion, so I’m trying to go for an unprecedented third Olympic gold in the 400-meter hurdle, which has never been done before. So I’ve got tunnel vision. I’m very focused, so no partying for me until after the job is done.”
Ariel Hsing, U.S. table tennis player, on getting crazy in the village:
“Oh, I don’t know, I’m not one of those people. At least not yet!”
Fred Roberto, chiropractor for the U.S. wrestling team, on whether he worries about his athletes getting too dehydrated because of partying:
“Maybe other sports, but not USA wrestling. Our guys are reading to go.”
Kevin Schultz, chiropractor for U.S. wrestling:
“Not that I’m aware of, and I don’t think any of them would make that mistake at the Olympic stage, especially. One would hope not. They’re focused, they’re strict.”
What do athletes think of other athletes?
Tim Morehouse, U.S. fencer, on nominating fellow fencer Mariel Zagunis as the flag bearer in the opening ceremony:
“She is a two-time Olympic champion, the greatest fencer in our sport’s history. I just felt like this was the time for her to shine. So those were my points to the room, which was basically one team captain from every sport. They actually hadn’t heard of Mariel, so she is kind of a representation of one of those untold Olympic stories. … She was in a dead-tie with another athlete. It was a man.”
Grant Hill, former Olympian and NBA player for the L.A. Clippers, on his hopes for Team USA:
“I hope we win every gold medal that there could be! I hope the athletes have a wonderful, memorable experience. I was fortunate enough in ’96 to be a part of it. I know it’s sort of one of the highlights of my life and my career. I hope every athlete who prepared and worked hard to get to this point can come away with an enjoyable experience, like I had.”
Grant Hill visits athletes with first lady Michelle Obama as part of the presidential delegation.
Former Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes on what’s going through the mind of an athlete before a competition:
“What worked for me did not necessarily work for Shannon Miller and won’t work for Jordyn Wieber. A lot of times, it was just shutting off my mind — ’cause many times my mind would try to work against me. It would make me believe that I wasn’t enough, that the crowd was too loud or that the lighting was not right. If I were in the arena now, I would have been appalled by all the pink — and I’m a girl!”
… and on women athletes outnumbering men on Team USA for the first time.
“Here us roar, I guess! Just as long as us women are given that opportunity and we take advantage of that opportunity and we know that we don’t have as many potential professional opportunities in regards to a sport like basketball. But it’s about the intangibles we get from this journey and our sports experience.”
Dominique Dawes helps a reporter do a handstand in between interviews at USA House.
Kelly-Ann Baptiste, track and field athlete for Trinidad and Tobago, on whether she socializes with the competition:
“I don’t really speak to a lot of them. I say ‘hi,’ I’m cordial. But to say that they’re my best friends, they’re not — and that’s just being honest. But I think we have a lot of respect, and we respect each other enough to have conversations.”
Kelly-Ann Baptiste answers questions at the Adidas media lounge in London.
Erica Wu, U.S. table tennis player, on being only 16 and an Olympian:
“I think it doesn’t matter how old you are. This is every athlete’s goal. I don’t really think about how I’m only 16. I think how it’s amazing to be here. Everyone in the village respects everyone else because we are all athletes. We’ve all been working toward the same goal, and it’s just really amazing to be there.”
And how about LeBron?
U.S. men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski on team member LeBron James:
“I think LeBron is a great player. Since we coached him for the first time in 2006 till now, he has steadily gotten better, and he was great then. And he is really the best player in the world right now. He can play all positions, both offensively and defensively. He is a great leader, and he’s incredibly intelligent — one of the most magnificent athletes on this planet. It’s a great combination. I think he’s at an age where all this is coming together.”
Fans weigh in on Olympic fever
Charles Million, of Miami Beach, on his experience in London:
“It’s been great. It’s been wonderful, and Mitt Romney was absolutely wrong!”
Million, left, with friends on their way to watch Team USA compete in gymnastics.
Andy Pronger, of Hastings, England, on the atmosphere:
“The whole vibe in London is amazing at the moment. Normally, it’s so quiet walking around. But there are so many flags of every country, and there is a certain buzz about the place at the moment.”
Pronger watches the games from inside the House of Nations at Tower Hill.
Barbara Schultz, from Houston, on China dominating the medal count:
“The way they cheated with the gymnastics in 2008 — those girls were clearly too young. In every country, you have athletes who dope or cheat or whatever, but I think in China, it’s sponsored by the government.”
Spanish fans pose at Westminster.
British fans cheer on Team GB in rowing from a London pub.
Showing Jamaican pride, fans imitate sprinter Usain Bolt’s signature pose on the streets of West London.
Polish fans head to an Olympic event.
Fans support Germany and Estonia.
Fans from the Netherlands enjoy cold beer while watching their team compete from a Stratford bar.
He’s dressed for Spain from head to toe.
This patriotic American family was all about Team USA!
Proud French fans watch their team compete in swimming at the House of Nations in Kings Cross.
Businesses capitalize on Olympic fever with costumed employees enticing customers.