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OLYMPICS: A Primer

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The Olympic Torch Makes Its Final Journey Across London Towards The Opening Ceremony
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The Olympics kick off in London with tonight’s (Friday) Opening Ceremonies. But tomorrow, the Games get going for real. Here’s a rundown of what everyone will be watching over the next two weeks.

Basketball

  • The USA men’s basketball team is a favorite to win the gold medal after defeating Spain. Even with players like Chris Bosh and Blake Griffin injured, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant are making an obvious impression.
  • The American women have breezed through all their exhibition games and are in good shape to begin their gold-medal run with an opening game against Croatia.

Soccer

  • The USA men’s soccer team failed to qualify for this year’s Olympics, but most are looking forward to watching Brazil.
  • The USA Women’s Soccer team is favored to take the gold this summer, with an impressive record against their French contenders — including a 4-to-2 win in preliminary competition this week.

Swimming

  • 15-year-old Katie Ledecky is the youngest U.S. Olympian. She’s competing in the women’s 800 meter freestyle.
  • Michael Phelps is competing in only five events this year — which destroys his chances of matching his best of eight gold medals. But he can still set the record for most Olympic medals in a career.
  • Ryan Lochte — another fan favorite — will go head to head with Phelps in several events, including the 200 meter backstroke and 200 meter individual medley, in which he beat Phelps in during the Olympic Trials
  • Watch out for Australia’s Stephanie Rice, who won gold for the 400 meter individual medley event at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Track and Field

  • Usain Bolt is said to be in top shape to defend his gold medals from the 100 meter event. As fastest man in the world and with a nickname like “Lighting Bolt,” the Jamaican is favored to win both the 100 and 200.
  • Bolt isn’t the only favorite from Jamaica. Yohan Blake is also an overwhelming favorite — he beat Bolt in qualifying.
  • USA team member Tyson Gay is competing with a surgically repaired hip, but it didn’t stop him from placing second in the U.S. trials.
  • Allyson Felix is looking to once again win a medal during the women’s 100 meters.
  • Ashton Eaton set the decathlon world record at the U.S. trials.

Gymnastics

  • USA women’s team gymnast McKayla Maroney is competing with a broken right big toe.
  • China’s and Russia’s women’s teams look solid, but America is once again a clear favorite in multiple events.
  • Beth Tweedle of Great Britain is one gymnast will give the home fans something to cheer about.
  • Danell Leyva of the U.S. men’s team has come out as a clear leader, with fans hoping he’ll lead the team to gold.
  • Japan and China are America’s biggest obstacles. China has been unbeatable since 2004.

Beach Volleyball

  • Misty May-Treanor and partner Kerri Walsh Jennings are looking for their third gold medal, but might have trouble beating Brazil’s Juliana Silva and Larissa Franca, who bested the American duo in 2011.
  • Americans Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser are likely to face the same obstacles in their Brazilian counterparts, Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti.
  • China, Italy and the Netherlands are also offering some stiff competition.

 Boxing

  • America will lead with the largest squad for this year’s boxing events.
  • This time, there are three weight classes for women.
  • Rau’shee Warrenis the first three-time Olympic boxer.

Tennis

  • Roger Federer of Switzerland is the favorite to win gold in the men’s singles, but he’ll get stiff competition from U.K. native son Andy Murray, who won Wimbledon.
  • Serena Williams is another fan favorite, as she recently just won her fifth Wimbledon title.

Cycling

  • British cyclists Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins are clear favorites in this year’s Games. Wiggins just won the Tour de France.
  • Tyler Farrar is the American hopeful.

Diving

  • With China’s performance in the Beijing Games, it is possible that they may take it all.
  • Britain’s Tom Daley is looking to dethrone Qiu Bo and Zhou Luxin in the Games as he did in the World Championships.
  • David Boudia is also looking to regain American glory in tandem diving with his partner Mick McCrory.
  • The American women’s team isn’t a favorite to win gold, but Christina Loukas is a contender, and Kelci Bryant and partner Abby Johnston will take another shot at the podium as well.

Triathlon

  • British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee are each other’s biggest competition this summer. Alistair is a two-time Olympian.
  • Alexander Bryukhankov of Russia is also a strong contender.
  • On the women’s side, Britain is also hopeful that world champion Helen Jenkins can win the gold. However, Jenkins might have some stiff competition in Australian Emma Moffat and Canadian Paula Findlay.

Water Polo

  • On the men’s side, Hungary is gunning for a fourth straight gold medal. The U.S. is probably the next-best team.
  • For the women, Hungary and the U.S. are also the favorites.

Wrestling

  • The Russian team will likely take the most gold medals.
  • On the women’s side — yes, there’s a women’s side — Japan is the squad to beat.
  • American hopefuls include Jordan Burroughs and Jake Herbert.
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