Gemma Gibbons could not believe her eyes during a visit this week to Buckingham Palace, where Queen Elizabeth II was meeting with a group of British Olympians and Paralympians.

If having a word with Her Majesty was the highlight of Gibbons' visit, than seeing the interior of the palace might have been a close second.

"It was a great experience," Gibbons told the Evening Standard. "It was my first Olympics so my first time I could go to Buckingham Palace. It's very nice inside."

"Very nice" might be an understatement. As the Judo silver medalist discovered, even the royal restrooms are decked out. To give you some idea of what sort of quality the Queen commands when it comes to the lavatory, several years ago thousands of dollars were spent on a bathroom that Her Majesty did not even use.

The bathroom is so fancy that journalist Piers Morgan even gushed to Conan O'Brien about how he stole toilet paper from the Buckingham Palace.

After the event, Gibbons tweeted a photo of the Queen's luxurious loo.

It is perhaps not surprising that the Queen has a lavish washroom, but it is still neat to see exactly how nice her digs are.

(H/T to Off the Bench)

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The last time a world champion chose to skip out on a meeting with President Barack Obama, it was for political reasons. Boston Bruins goalie and staunch conservative Tim Thomas boycotted the traditional White House ceremony because he disagreed with the direction of the government.

Now, another athlete is turning down an invitation to Washington D.C., but not because of his politics. While the majority of the 2012 Olympians and Paralympians will gather at the White House on Friday for a special reception with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, one gold medalist has other plans.

TMZ is reporting that swimmer Tyler Clary, who won gold in the 200-meter backstroke in London, will miss Friday's Olympic summit at the White House because he will be in Fontana, Calif., testing race cars.

Clary, who has a passion for cars and would one day like to be a professional driver, is testing cars this week and attending the MAVTV 500 IndyCar on Saturday.

Unlike Thomas, Clary has not made his political beliefs public. But if he's into racing, Mitt Romney probably wants his vote.

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For one American sprinter, Olympic fame has become a mixed bag. Her post-Games euphoria was quickly tempered by an upcoming legal battle.

ABC News has reported that Tianna Madison, who won a gold medal as part of the American 4x100 meter relay team in London, is being sued by her parents for statements she made prior to the Olympics.

Robert and Jo Ann Madison are alleging that their daughter was untruthful when speaking about their mismanagement of her funds and their allowing a young man who had perviously molester her into their home. The lawsuit says that Tianna and her husband, John Bartoletta, repeatedly made false statements to the media.

"Throughout her childhood, and into adulthood, Robert Madison and Jo Ann Madison have provided Tianna Madison with a loving, supportive and generous environment that has enabled her to achieve success as a sprinter, including her obtaining a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, as well as achieving success in other athletic endeavors," the lawsuit read

A representative for Tianna Madison said she would not be commenting on the lawsuit.

The Madisons' relationship with their daughter has been strained for some time. They held a pre-Olympic rally for her in July, but she did not attend.

Robert Madison and Jo Ann Madison are each seeking more than $25,000 in damages.

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For someone who only plans on getting inked once in her lifetime, Missy Franklin chose a pretty good design.

The 17-year-old swimming phenom and four-time gold medalist in London recently showed off her new body art, an image of the five Olympic rings on her upper thigh.

She tweeted the photo along with the words, "All inked up AHH! Can't believe it! My one and only!"

Franklin is taking part in a time-honored tradition of getting a tattoo of the Olympic rings. Other stars from the London Games have shown off their body art in recent days, including British diver Tom Daley and Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice.

Good thing Franklin doesn't plan on following Rice's example of getting a new design after each Olympics. In Franklin's case, that could become quite an extensive tattoo.

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It's been a whirlwind summer for McKayla Maroney. In a matter of weeks she went from a practically unknown 16-year-old to Olympic gold medalist and Internet sensation.

Now that Maroney is back home in Long Beach, Calif., she and her teammates are dealing with the prizes and pitfalls that come with her newfound stardom. "The Fierce Five" have appeared on several talkshows recently, and Maroney looks like she's enjoying herself.

However there is also a darker side to Olympic stardom, especially as a young, female athlete. Former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson was haunted by a stalker shortly after the Beijing Olympics, and Maroney's family is going to lengths to make sure she avoids any similiar situations.

"We have hired specialist security guards to make sure McKayla is never on her own," Maroney's mom, Erin, told the Daily Mail. "We don’t want another Shawn Johnson situation to happen."

Erin thought it was "frightening" that her daughter, who will turn 17 in December, has already received marriage proposals.

"We know there are some fanatical people out there," Erin said. "We've had prom date requests, you name it. But McKayla handles it great. She just rolls her eyes at it."

She may be only 16, but Maroney is dealing well with her newfound fame. Now that's impressive.

(H/T to Larry Brown Sports)

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At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Dan O'Brien won a gold medal in the decathlon for the United States. Sixteen years later, he has teamed up with Team USA and DeVry University for their Mark Your Moments App and Facebook page, which invites everyone to work toward their goals with the support of a community of similarly determined people.

***

ThePostGame: Tell me about the Mark Your Moments App.
DAN O'BRIEN: It's a wonderful Facebook app and page that encourages fans to log on and set goals for themselves, create a community around themselves and support others. Team USA and DeVry University have created a great partnership and brought together the campaign.

TPG: How did you first get into athletics?
O'BRIEN: I was adopted, and so when I was younger I wasn't really a very outgoing person. I started playing Little League baseball, started running races and playing basketball and things.

TPG: So how did playing sports help you overcome that shyness?
O'BRIEN: It was only when I started becoming a better athlete that I created this identity for myself. I gained a little bit of confidence, and when I gained confidence on the field I also gained it in the classroom and got a few more friends, so I think that sports really started me off to creating the identity of who it was I grew up to be.

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TPG: When did you first realize you were something of a superior athlete?
O'BRIEN: I always identified myself as an athlete, and even as I got into high school, I knew that sports was going to be my biggest talent, so I tried to take advantage of that.

TPG: When did you first compete in a decathlon?
O'BRIEN: I did my first decathlon in the 10th grade, and then I did one decathlon every year thereafter. So one in 10th, one in 11th, one in 12th, and then I qualified for the Junior Olympics.

TPG: Tell me about your experience at the Junior Olympics.
O'BRIEN: I got to go to Los Angeles and see Carl Lewis run at the Olympic Trials while at the same time I was competing in the Junior Olympics. Watching Lewis run really inspired me.

TPG: How did he inspire you?
O'BRIEN: It's one of those things where you see somebody do it and you realize, 'that's what I want to do.' I think that these athletes today have a great opportunity to inspire young athletes in the future.

TPG: When you were first competing in the Junior Olympics, what was your best event?
O'BRIEN: I was always a fast guy. Speed was really the key of my decathlon. 100 meters, long jump, hurdle, I don’t think I had a best event really – the only event I won at the 1996 games was the 400 meters, and I took a lot of pride in the fact that I ran a good 400 because it’s one of the toughest events in track and field.

TPG: Your worst event?
O'BRIEN: I only had one bad event -- the last event, which was the 1,500 meters.

TPG: You were considered a lock for the 1992 Olympics, but didn't make the team. What happened, and how did that disappointment affect you, positively or negatively?
O'BRIEN: In 1992 I was the world champion, the American record holder, and all I had to do at the Olympic trials was make the team. I was one of the best guys in the country and I thought that was all I had to do. But then I ran into the pole vault. I didn't pole vault very well. I got zero points in that events, and I had to get over that. I wasn't really sure how I was going to get over it, but all athletes face adversity, and when I didn't make the team in '92 it turned out to be the most positive thing that could have happened to me, because for the next four years I was the most focused athlete in the world. And I was able to go out four years later and win the gold.

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Ryan Lochte's marketing push started well before the Olympics ended. In fact, it began before Lochte won his last medal in London.

According to reports, Lochte applied for a trademark on his phrase "jeah" on August 1. One day later, Lochte medaled in two events.

The phrase is as confusing as it is popular, but Lochte provides some insight in the video below. The swimmer says the origins of "jeah" lie in a song where rapper Young Jeezy says the word "chea," which itself is a derivative of "yeah." Lochte added his own spin on the word by swapping out the "ch" and adding a "j."

Lochte, who has been quite busy since returning from London, is selling "jeah" glasses on his website for $15. But before you buy, beware this warning: despite any resemblance to sunglasses, the glasses are not designed to be worn as sunglasses and they have no UV protection.

And wearing these glasses does not mean you can pee in the pool.

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The "Fierce Five" may be drained after their historic performance at the London Olympics, but there is work to be done on the "Colbert Report."

With Stephen Colbert's summer interns departing, the comedian is looking for a new group of youngsters. And so he asks the Olympic gymnasts to help out. Although their task is quite simple, Gabby Douglas and Co. still devise a complex and extremely impressive solution.


The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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It's comforting to see that even after that entire routine, which is undoubtedly the most elaborate means ever conceived to deliver a pen, McKayla Maroney is still not impressed.

-- Follow Robbie Levin on Twitter @Levin_TPG.

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Ryan Lochte has plenty of experience in pressure-packed situations under the bright lights, but that didn't help calm the nerves for the star swimmer on the set of "90210."

"It was my first acting gig and I was a little nervous going on set," Lochte told Us Weekly. "I kind of messed up my lines the first couple of takes, but after talking with the cast and them helping me out, I started nailing it towards the end and it felt normal."

The 11-time Olympic medalist wasn't afraid to poke fun at himself. During the Olympics, Lochte's mother said her son was too busy to commit to a relationship and had to settle for one night stands.

Lochte responds to those allegations in character:

A passerby: "Doesn't your mom say you didn't have time for a girlfriend?"
Lochte: "I don't, but does she look unhappy?"

With lines like that, there's no way Lochte won't succeed.

Lochte may not have acting in his future, so he should probably think twice before signing up for "The Bachelor."

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One by one, they took their turn, each sitting at their aunt's bedside in a Pittsburgh hospital room.

One by one, the four nieces and the nephew looked into their aunt's loving eyes for the final time. It wouldn't be long, they knew, before Carolyn Schmitt's body, which had endured so much for so long, decided it finally had enough.

They had gathered together in Pittsburgh because they knew it was time. They understood when they said goodbye on that Sunday afternoon, it would be for good.

Allison Schmitt approached the bed where her favorite aunt lay, trying her hardest not to cry.

Oh, the tears came, but Schmitt, the 22-year-old swimmer whose Olympic glory wouldn't be fully realized until a magical week later with five medals in London, did her best to be brave.

In a family full of fighters, in a family that demanded that each member give their all in everything they did and in a family that had always refused to surrender to adversity, Schmitt looked at her Aunt Carolyn and prepared herself to share one final moment together.

As difficult as it would be would be, Schmitt relished the opportunity to sit with her aunt, the one who 10 years earlier had somehow managed to will her way to one of Allison's swim meets, one last time.

"She was just in so much pain ... I'm just lucky I was able to have the chance say goodbye to her," Schmitt says now, nearly two months after Carolyn Schmitt passed away at 63 from complications of rheumatoid arthritis.

***

After winning a bronze medal in the 2008 Summer Games, Schmitt had pointed toward London, expecting big things. But the eight-time NCAA champion, who had put her education and collegiate career at the University of Georgia on hold for a year to train for 2012, had no idea how her life was about to change.

In London, in an Olympic Games dominated by American women, Schmitt -- known affectionately among her teammates and friends as "Schmitty" -- quickly emerged as one of the fresh new faces of U.S. swimming. Known for constantly smiling, Schmitt established a new Olympic record in the 200 freestyle and teamed with fellow Golden Girls Missy Franklin, Dana Vollmer and Rebecca Soni to set a new world record in the 400 individual medley relay.

Schmitt was now a star, widely recognized, although often mistaken for her teammate Franklin.

Within hours of landing back home in Michigan, Schmitt had been approached by a young fan who burst into tears at the sight of the Olympian, admitting she had always wanted to shake Schmitt's hand.

But as quickly as Schmitt had started adjusting to her newfound stardom, Schmitt's everyday existence as she knew it had actually began to change on that Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Schmitt had left Baltimore after a Saturday practice and took a quick flight to join her family. They gathered the next day at the hospital, where Carolyn Schmitt kept asking Allison how her swimming was going, focusing more on her niece than with her deteriorating physical condition.

Never once did Carolyn mention how she was feeling or what was coming in the time she had left. Instead, she used her final meeting with Allison to dwell on the excitement that was coming in her niece's life.

As she got ready to get up from her own one-on-one moment with her Aunt Carolyn, the woman Schmitt had always counted among her top supporters, grabbed her niece's hand.

"When you swim at the trials and at the Olympics, I'll be cheering for you from beyond the stars," Carolyn told her niece. "When you're hurting, look up because I'll be pulling for you."

Days before Schmitt raced for the first time at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Carolyn's body finally gave in.
Ralph Schmitt, Allison's father and Carolyn's brother, braced himself, knowing he'd have to call his daughter and deliver the news.

For some time now, Schmitt's family knew the end was approaching and they prayed that the pain Carolyn had fought for much of her life would finally be taken away.

Carolyn had fought the rheumatoid arthritis since she was a child and over the years, the illness and the battery of medications had taken their toll. During her life, she had both hips replaced, neither of which was in place at the end because of the infections that had set in.

"Her body was just overwhelmed," Ralph Schmitt says.

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