Muhammad Ali was the star of a London charity gala Wednesday that kicked off the Olympic party competition. The medal prospects for this were hurt when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie failed to put in a much-anticipated appearance at the Sports for Peace fundraiser ($3,900 a head). The star power was left to sports figures including Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, former tennis star Boris Becker and boxer Wladimir Klitschko, and Live Aid rocker Bob Geldof. In a rare public appearance, Ali, 70, was the guest of honor at the party and dinner at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The money raised will go to the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky., and for research into Parkinson's disease, with which the 1960 heavyweight boxing gold medalist was diagnosed 30 years ago. British newspapers have reported Ali might play a role in Friday's opening ceremony. "There's a possibility," Ali's brother, Rahaman Ali, said. "He makes decisions at the last minute."
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In the pink; lots of pink
Disney princess-loving girls will love the decor for the gymnastics competition. As will fans of Pepto-Bismol and bubble gum. Not many other people will. The carpeting for each of the four competition surfaces at the O2 Arena is pink, as is the banner that encircles the competition floor at the bottom of the first level of arena seating.
"It's definitely a little bit in your face," Britain's Sam Oldham said.
American Danell Leyva adopted the British "Keep calm and carry" on approach: "What's that saying, that real men wear pink? Well, real men compete on pink floors, too."
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Lochte leads in juicy rumors
Is Ryan Lochte already living out his Olympic dream of enjoy the experience without having to worry about a girlfriend?
The hunky swimmer said a few weeks ago he had a girlfriend during the 2008 Games and didnÕt get to enjoy his out-of-pool time as much as he would have liked. This time he is single, he said, and is pretty sure heÕll have a better time.
So the Australian media is getting excited over the former GatorÕs face time with Aussie swimmer Blair Evans during training sessions this week.
They have been Òspotted cozying up to each otherÓ and left the venue together Monday, one TV network said. A Òbrief underwater hand touching É set poolside observers speculating,Ó the Herald Sun newspaper said. Observers were buzzing because of Òthe warmth shown between them,Ó the Australian newspaper said.
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Already a record
BrazilÕs Cristiane, left, became the top womenÕs Olympic soccer scorer with her 11th goal in a 5-0 rout of Cameroon. Cristiane, 27 and at her third Games, surpassed GermanyÕs retired Birgit Prinz (10).
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Fencer to carry flag
Two-time gold medal-winning fencer Mariel Zagunis will carry the U.S. flag in FridayÕs opening ceremony. She was chosen in a vote by the team captains from nominees made by each team.