London Games come in $603 million under budget

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Beijing organizers essentially shouted Chinese culture at their worldwide audience in 2008, spending $67 billion on the Olympics while presumably using “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” as the punch line of every meeting they held leading up to the Games.

On the other hand, London, seemingly content not competing against Beijing’s incredible spectacle, aimed to only spend about $15 billion – or less than a quarter of what the previous Olympics cost.

Somehow they still came in under budget.

“The work of the construction and delivery teams, from the ODA and LOCOG, has set a very high standard,” said sports minister Hugh Robertson of the somewhat abnormal surplus. “I have no doubt that London 2012 has set a new benchmark for the management of Olympic and Paralympic Games in future.”

LOCOG ended up with about $603 million left over when all was said and done, which is great news for the London Legacy Development Corporation since it plans to spend $467 million of that on redeveloping the now four month old Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London.

The update to what will essentially be a U.K. sports version of Disneyland will keep the aquatics, cycling, basketball, and handball venues intact, and will also include 2,818 new houses and apartments in five neighborhoods, as well as three schools, three health centers, nine nurseries, and a library.

U.S., Great Britain to hold track and field dual meet

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The U.S. and Great Britain go head-to-head in a track and field meet on July 21 at the London Olympic Stadium.

“The Meet” will include nine running, jumping, hurdles and relay events and last two hours. Specific events and athletes will be announced early next year.

The U.S. topped the overall medal standings at every Olympics and world outdoor championships since 2004.

Great Britain is one of three countries to earn at least five medals at every Olympics and worlds since 2007, joining the U.S. and Kenya.

British athletes made six podiums at the just-completed worlds at the London Olympic Stadium, including in all four relays. The other two medals came from Mo Farah, who is moving to road racing and marathons after this season.

“The Meet” is similar to swimming’s “Duel in the Pool,” a biennial head-to-head competition between the U.S. and rival Australia from 2003 through 2007 and between the U.S. and Europe between 2009 and 2015.

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Maria Sharapova gets U.S. Open wild card

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NEW YORK (AP) — Maria Sharapova was granted a wild-card invitation for the U.S. Open’s main draw on Tuesday and will take part in a Grand Slam event for the first time in more than 1 ½ years.

Sharapova is among eight women given entry into the 128-player field by the U.S. Tennis Association — and by far the most noteworthy.

The former No. 1-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, has not entered a major tournament since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium.

That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April. She returned to the tour, but her ranking — currently 148th — was too low to allow entry into major tournaments, and the French Open denied her a wild card. Sharapova planned to try to qualify for Wimbledon, but the 30-year-old Russian wound up skipping the grass-court portion of the season because of an injured left thigh.

Sharapova has been participating in tournaments via wild-card invitations, beginning in April on red clay at Stuttgart, Germany. She’s only played nine matches this season.

Sharapova was 19 when she won her U.S. Open trophy. Two years before, at 17, Sharapova won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. She has since completed a career Grand Slam and become one of the most recognizable — and marketable — athletes in the world.

The U.S. Open starts in Flushing Meadows on Aug. 28.

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