Happy feet! Olympic athletes unleash victory dances

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By Jill Lawless, Associated Press

From the track to the ring to the sandpit, this crop of Olympians just can’t stop the beat. The London Games have brought an outpouring of crazy, creative victory celebrations.

FUNKY JIGS

Kenyan steeplechase winner Ezekiel Kemboi celebrated his gold medal with a hip-swiveling, arm-shaking peacock dance for 80,000 people in the Olympic Stadium.

Claressa Shields

(AP Photo)

At the ExCel center, U.S. boxing champ Claressa Shields broke into a combination jig-and-fist-bump when she took gold in one of the first-ever Olympic women’s boxing contests.

Over at the beach volleyball venue, American Misty May-Treanor – a former “Dancing With the Stars” contestant – broke into a funky jig in the sand as she celebrated winning gold with partner Kerri Walsh Jennings. “I just had to get out there and let it out,” May-Treanor said.

And the antics aren’t confined to land. Australia’s Malcolm Page and Matthew Belcher celebrated winning sailing gold Friday by back-flipping off their 470 sailboat, which then capsized.

WALK THIS WAY

Serena Williams celebrates

(AP Photo)

Tennis star Serena Williams celebrated Olympic gold with a “Crip Walk” – a fancy-footwork dance that originated with the Los Angeles street gang and later spread around the world.

Her sister Venus, sitting in the stands, looked delighted. Wimbledon, the very proper home of the All-England Lawn Tennis Association, had never seen anything like it, and a few commentators were not amused.

“It was just me,” the U.S. medalist said later. “I love to dance.”

CARTWHEELS

Williams wasn’t the only champ to raise a few eyebrows. The gold-winning U.S. women’s soccer team capped its victories with cartwheels, front flips and a team rendition of the “worm” – sometimes even in the middle of a game.

“I wouldn’t like it if our team did that,” said New Zealand coach Tony Readings. “We try to work on scoring goals. We haven’t got time to work on celebrations.”

His team lost to the Americans 2-0.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK

Robert Harting

(London 2012 Image)

German discus thrower Robert Harting‘s response to winning gold was not a dance so much as a force of nature.

The 280-pound behemoth roared, ripped his shirt to shreds like the Incredible Hulk, grabbed a German flag, ran a lap of the track over the hurdles – not too shabby, either, for such a big guy –  and then tried to wrench one of the burning torches from the Olympic cauldron.

The cauldron remained intact.

His evening went downhill from there. The next morning Harting tweeted: “‘Puuh i just got robbed while I did some work to please athletic fans! I lost all my accredition (sic) for Olympic Village! – no entrance.”

Maybe he could just bring a photo. The man is hard to miss.

THE LEGEND

Usain Bolt

(AP Photo)

But in his celebrations as on the track, Usain Bolt is in a class by himself.

The Jamaican sprinter’s trademark lightning bolt – arm stretched to the sky as if he’s about to shoot an arrow – has taken over Olympic Park. Exuberant visitors were seen replicating the pose thousands of times as they poured out of Olympic Stadium after Bolt won the 200 meters Thursday night for his second gold of these games.

Police officers in Bobby helmets, firefighters – even London Mayor Boris Johnson, who certainly lacks the sprinter’s svelte physique – have all joined in.

Bolt himself shook up his celebration routine after the 200 meters. The self-proclaimed living legend glided across the finish line, placed an index finger to his lips in a silent reproach to those who had doubted him, then dropped to the track and did some push-ups.

The crowd went wild.

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