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ALL THE SPORTS

Archery

When: Aug. 18-21.

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Top U.S. performers: Butch Johnson, Vic Wunderle, Janet Dykman.

U.S. chances: U.S. men are well-seasoned at the elite level, winning team medals in three of the past four Olympics. U.S. women have won only one medal since 1976.

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Outlook: South Korea's men and women dominate the competition.

- Hartford Courant

Badminton

When: Aug. 14-21.

Top U.S. performers: The doubles team of Howard Bach and Kevin Han, the only U.S. players to qualify for Athens.

U.S. chances: No U.S. Olympian has advanced beyond the second round since badminton joined the Games in 1992. That is not likely to change this year.

Outlook: Asian players have won 42 of the 46 medals since badminton's Olympic debut in 1992. --

Newsday

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Baseball

When: Aug. 15-25.

Top U.S. performers: The Greeks (Greece's team is stocked with Americans of Greek ancestry).

U.S. chances: None, it failed to qualify.

Outlook: With the defending champion U.S. unable to qualify for Athens, 1992 and 1996 champion Cuba once again is the favorite for the gold medal.

- Newsday

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Basketball

When: Aug. 14-28.

Top U.S. performers: Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Richard Jefferson; Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson.

U.S. chances: Both U.S. teams are favored for gold medals, though neither will be as dominant as in years past.

Outlook: The U.S. men lost their mantle of invincibility by finishing sixth at the 2002 world championships, then lost a core of seasoned players who withdrew for a variety of reasons this spring. Australia and Brazil have closed the gap between themselves and the U.S. women, and Russia also is improving rapidly. But no team plays defense like the U.S.

- Newsday

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Beach volleyball

When: Aug. 14-25.

Top U.S. performers: Dain Blanton and Jeff Nygaard; Stein Metzger and Dax Holdren; Misty May and Kerri Walsh; Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs.

U.S. chances: The women stand an excellent chance. May and Walsh are the top-ranked team in the world and are gold-medal favorites. McPeak and Youngs are ranked No. 4 in the world and have a good chance at a medal.

Outlook: Neither male U.S. team enters the Olympics with much momentum. Among the women, May and Walsh won a record 15 consecutive tournaments between July 2003 and June 2004.

- Los Angeles Times

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Boxing

When: Aug. 14-29.

Top U.S. performers: Middleweight Andre Dirrell, light heavyweight Andre Ward, super heavyweight Jason Estrada.

U.S. chances: Once a dominant power in this sport, the U.S. now lags far behind Cuba and Russia. In Sydney in 2000, it failed to win a gold for the first time in 52 years. This 2004 team is young and inexperienced and has qualifiers in only nine of 11 weight classes, but it does have realistic medal hopes in Dirrell, Ward and Estrada.

Outlook: In flyweight, American Ron Siler put off turning pro for another shot at Olympic glory. The Russian-Cuban stranglehold could be broken by German featherweight Vitaly Tajbert. In welterweight, Russia's Oleg Saitov goes for his third straight gold, but will be challenged by Cuba's Lorenzo Aragon.

- Chicago Tribune

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Canoe/kayak

When: Aug. 17-28.

Top U.S. performers: Among men flatwater competitors, Rami Zur, who represented Israel in 2000, specializes in 500-meter single kayak. Women flatwater racers include Kathy Colin and Carrie Johnson. Marylander Joe Jacobi and Matt Taylor compete in double canoe.

U.S. chances: Zur has the country's best shot at a medal in flatwater. Jacobi could duplicate his 1992 gold-medal performance, but with a new partner in Taylor.

Outlook: In the men's 1,000 double kayak, two-time Olympic gold medalist Antonio Rossi of Italy will join Beniamino Bonomi, but the duo could struggle against 2003 world champions Markus Oscarson and Henrik Nilsson of Sweden. Europeans generally rule this competition, but Canada's Caroline Brunet could win gold in the women's single kayak.

-- Chicago Tribune

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Cycling

When: Aug 14-15, 18, 20-25, 27-28.

Top U.S. performers: Marty Nothstein, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Dede Barry, Jenny Reed.

U.S. chances: Not much better than how the team fared during the 2000 Olympics when the U.S. picked up just three medals. Nothstein is the lone returning medal winner (match sprint) but will ride in a different event.

Outlook: Viacheslav Ekimov, who rides with Lance Armstrong for the U.S. Postal team, won in 2000, but look for Hincapie to make the podium in the men's road race. Germany's Jan Ullrich is the favorite in the men's time trial. American women's time trial racer Christine Thorburn had a meteoric rise this year. Nothstein is the lone American hopeful in the motor-paced keirin event.

- Allentown Morning Call

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Diving

When: Aug. 14, 16, 20-28.

Top U.S. performers: Laura Wilkinson (10-meter platform); Sara (Reiling) Hildebrand (3-meter platform); Troy Dumais (3-meter springboard) and Mark Ruiz, Kyle Prandi (10-meter synchronized platform).

U.S. chances: Don't expect much.

Outlook: The Chinese have claimed every gold medal in women's springboard since 1988, and had won every gold in women's platform since 1984 until Wilkinson's gold halted that streak in 2000.

- Orlando Sentinel

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Equestrian

When: Aug. 15-18, 20, 22-24, 25, 27.

Top U.S. performers: Debbie McDonald, Brentina. Beezie Madden, Darren Chiacchia.

U.S. chances: Experts are saying this is one of the strongest, most balanced U.S. teams ever. The three-day event team, which won gold at the 2002 worlds, should battle France, Great Britain and Germany for a medal. McDonald is favored to win a U.S. dressage medal for the first time since 1932 and the U.S. dressage team will be disappointed if it doesn't medal. The Americans went without a medal in Sydney.

Outlook: In the team three-day event, a new format is being used with a shortened cross country portion followed by two show jumping rounds on the same day on a larger-than-normal course. The United Kingdom might go one-two in the individual three-day. Germany dominated team dressage at a recent event judged by the same panel that will be in Athens.

-- Los Angeles Times

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Fencing

When: Aug. 14-22.

Top U.S. performers: Sada Jacobson, 21, is the top-ranked women's sabre fencer in the world. Keeth Smart was the first American to be top-ranked in any discipline when he rose to No.1 in men's sabre last year.

U.S. chances: Both the men's and women's teams look to be the strongest ever fielded by the United States, which has won only two medals, both bronze, since 1932. Jacobson will be a medal favorite in women's sabre.

Outlook: The Italians have the world's three top-ranked male foil fencers, the No. 1 male epee fencer and the defending Olympic champ in women's foil. Russia's men will try to win their fourth straight team sabre gold.

-- Newsday

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Field hockey

When: Aug. 14-27.

U.S. chances: None. U.S. teams did not qualify.

Outlook: The Australian women and the Netherlands men are both looking for three-peats. Both teams won the 2003 championships.

- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Gymnastics

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When: Aug. 14-23, 26-29.

Top U.S. performers: Paul Hamm, Morgan Hamm, Brett McClure, Jason Gatson, Courtney Kupets, Courtney McCool and Carly Patterson.

U.S. chances: The women, reigning world champs, are favored for gold. China is the men's team to beat, but the United States should contend for a medal for the first time since 1984.

Outlook: Russia's Svetlana Khorkina, 25, won last year's world all-around championship, but Marylander Kupets, McCool and Patterson have been solid. Paul Hamm became the first American to win a world championship in the men's all-around and could give the U.S. its first Olympic gold medal, but must hold off China's Yang Wei. Russians dominate the rhythmic competition. Alexander Moskalenko of Russia is a five-time world champ in trampoline.

- Chicago Tribune

Judo

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When: Aug. 14-20

Top U.S. performers: Alex Ottiano (66 kilograms); Jimmy Pedro (73 kg); Brian Olson (90 kg); Ronda Rousey (63 kg); Celita Schutz (70 kg).

U.S. chances: The U.S. has never won a gold medal since men's judo became a recognized Olympic sport in 1964 and women's judo was added, first as a demonstration sport, in 1988. Pedro will be a medal favorite in Athens.

Outlook: Japan's Tadahiro Nomura will go for a third straight gold in the men's lightest weight class (60 kg).

- Hartford Courant

Modern pentathlon

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When: Aug. 26-27.

Top U.S. performers: Chad Senior, Mary Beth Larsen-Iagorashvili.

U.S. chances: Though the U.S. is one of only three countries with four competitors, it is not favored for a medal.

Outlook: Andrejus Zadneprovskis of Lithuania won the men's world championship this year. Szuszanna Voros of Hungary has won two straight women's world championships.

- Orlando Sentinel

Rowing

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When: Aug. 14-22.

Top U.S. performers: Bryan Volpenhein, Jason Read, Mike Wherley, Lianne Nelson.

U.S. chances: The men hope to challenge in the eights and fours, the women in the eights. The Americans won three medals in 2000.

Outlook: Marcel Hacker, "The Invincible German," will battle reigning champ Olaf Tufte of Norway in the men's single sculls. The Aussies rule men's quadruple sculls. In women's single sculls, Yekaterina Karsten of Belarus and Rumyana Neykova of Bulgaria appeared to cross the finish line together in Sydney, but Karsten was awarded the gold medal after judges reviewed the photos. Neykova wants revenge.

-- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Sailing

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When: Aug. 14-28

Top U.S. performers: Paul Cayard, Mark Mendelblatt, Meg Gaillard.

U.S. chances: Cayard and Phil Trinter could medal in the Star. Mendelblatt was second in the Laser worlds. Paul Foerster and Kevin Burnham have a chance in the men's 470. Tim Wadlow and Pete Spaulding could challenge in the 49er. Gaillard could win a medal in the Europe.

Outlook: Of the 21 competitors in the men's single-handed Finn class, 14 have competed at previous Olympic sailing competitions. Karlo Kuret of Croatia is the only one competing in his third straight Olympics. The men's Star fleet contains the greatest depth of talent and ability. The teams are highly funded, highly trained and highly experienced. Freddy Loof and Anders Ekstrom of Sweden are the world champs.

- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Shooting

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When: Aug. 14-22.

Top U.S. athletes: Matt Emmons, Todd Graves, Kim Rhode.

U.S. chances: Emmons, a three-time NCAA rifle champion, will compete in three events, a first in U.S. shooting. Graves, a 41-year-old Army sergeant, will compete in his fourth Olympics.

Outlook: Could Mongolia win its first gold medal? Gundegmaa Otryad, 26, ranked No. 1 in women's air pistol, could make it happen.

-- The Sun

Soccer

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When: Aug. 11-28.

Top U.S. performers: Abby Wambach, Briana Scurry.

U.S. chances: Having won the gold medal in Atlanta and the silver in Sydney, the American women would prefer not to complete the set with a bronze in Athens. World champion Germany as well as China and Sweden are their main challengers for the gold this time. A U.S. medal is virtually a certainty. The U.S. men did not qualify.

Outlook: Argentina comes in as the firm men's favorite.

- Los Angeles Times

Softball

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When: Aug. 14-23.

Top U.S. performers: Pitcher/third baseman Lisa Fernandez; pitcher Jennie Finch; shortstop Natasha Watley.

U.S. chances: Team USA is seeking its third consecutive gold medal.

Outlook: The U.S. team lost three games in 2000 but rebounded to win five in a row and win the gold medal. Japan, China and Australia beat Team USA at the 2000 Games and should be the top threats again.

-- Orlando Sentinel

Swimming

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When: Aug. 14-21

Top U.S. performers: Other than that Phelps fellow, Ian Crocker, Brendan Hansen and Aaron Peirsol are world-record holders, as are Amanda Beard and Natalie Coughlin.

U.S. chances: The Americans took gold in 14 of the 32 events in 2000. Now the men are drawing comparisons to the landmark 1976 team, talking about winning 12 of their 16 events (13 individual and three relays). The women don't possess that star power, as only Beard and Coughlin are clear favorites.

Outlook: American Gary Hall Jr. seeks a repeat in the men's 50 freestyle. Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands is the world record-holder in the men's 100 freestyle and reigning Olympic champion, but the ageless Alexander Popov beat him at the 2003 worlds. Ian Thorpe owns history's eight fastest times in the 400 freestyle, but false-started at the Australian trials and is defending only because Craig Stevens bowed out. In the 800 freestyle relay, Australia's men are unbeaten since the 1997 Pan Pacific Championships. The women's sprints feature 30-year-old Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands.

- The Sun

Synchronized swimming

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When: Aug. 25, 27.

Top U.S. performers: Anna Kozlova and Alison Bartosik in duet; Tammy Crow, Erin Dobratz, Becky Jasontek, Sara Lowe, Lauren McFall, Stephanie Nesbitt, Kendra Zanotto, Bartosik, Kozlova in team.

U.S. chances: The U.S. consistently has finished among the top three teams with this lineup; Kozlova and Bartosik are contenders to finish among the top five duets but not necessarily the top three.

Outlook: The 2000 gold medalists, Olga Brousnikina and Maria Kisseleva, of Russia have moved to team competition and been replaced by an even stronger duet of world champions Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova.

- The Sun

Table tennis

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When: Aug. 14-23.

Top U.S. performers: Ilija Lupulesku (men); Gao Jun, Jasna Reed (women).

U.S. chances: Lupulesku is experienced, having won silver in doubles for Yugoslavia in 1988. Reed won a bronze for Yugoslavia in 1988 and Gao won silver for China in 1992.

Outlook: Austrian world champion Werner Schlager will try to prevent a sweep by the Chinese men.

-- Chicago Tribune

Taekwando

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When: Aug. 26-29.

Top U.S. performers: 2000 gold medalist Steven Lopez and Nia Abdallah (only athletes to qualify).

U.S. chances: Lopez, who won the gold in Sydney as a featherweight, is now a welterweight and the reigning world champion; he's the favorite in a tough weight class. Abdallah is a relative unknown with only two international competitions prior to Athens.

Outlook: Greece's Michail Mouroutsos was 20 when he won the gold medal in Sydney and became a national hero. Men's heavyweight Pascal Gentil of France won the bronze in Sydney, then won three consecutive World Cup titles (2000-02). Greece's Areti Athanasopoulou will have the hometown crowd behind her in women's featherweight.

-- Newsday

Team handball

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When: Aug. 14-24, 29.

Top U.S. performers: Neither the U.S. men nor the U.S. women qualified.

Outlook: Croatia's men won the 2004 world championships, but Germany is the gold-medal favorite. France's women were the 2003 world champs.

- Allentown Morning Call

Tennis

When: Aug. 15-22.

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Top U.S. performers: The men's team will include Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Vince Spadea, Taylor Dent and the Bryan twins, Bob and Mike. The women's team will include Chanda Rubin, Martina Navratilova and Lisa Raymond.

U.S. chances: Roddick is among the top singles players in the world and should be in the medal chase all the way, as should the Bryan twins in doubles.

Outlook: Expect Roger Federer, Wimbledon winner the last two years and the current No. 1 player in the world, to have another shootout along the way with Roddick. Women competitors will benefit from the absence of Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova.

-- Los Angeles Times

Track and field

When: Aug. 18-29

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Top U.S. performers: Maurice Greene will defend his title of "world's fastest man" in the 100-meter dash. Marion Jones won't duplicate her three-gold, two-bronze performance at Sydney, but she's likely to vie for a medal in the long jump. Jeremy Wariner has two of the fastest 400-meter times in the world this season. Stacy Dragila should be in the final mix again in the women's pole vault. And Gail Devers will again try for the medal that has eluded her in the 100-meter hurdles.

U.S. chances: As always, good in the men's and women's 100, 200 and 400, the relays, hurdles and long jump, but remote in the middle and long distances. A sweep in the men's shot put is likely. The pole vaulters should contend for gold, and Olympic trials winner Bryan Clay could be in the decathlon picture with compatriot Tom Pappas. It will be tough to match the 20 medals track and field athletes won at Sydney.

Men's outlook: New York-born and USC-trained Felix Sanchez has dominated the 400 hurdles the past few years, but Baltimore's James Carter recorded a world-leading 47.68 in winning the Olympic trials. Greene has regained his Sydney championship form, but Asafa Powell of Jamaica beat him at London on July 30. No one has repeated as 100-meter champion since Carl Lewis in 1984 and 1988.Jamaican sensation Usain Bolt reportedly had a hamstring injury that might keep him out of the 200. That's good news for the U.S. trio, including Baltimore's Bernard Williams. Ethiopia could sweep the 10,000 meters and Kenya the marathon. American Melvin Lister posted this year's world best in the triple jump at the trials. Stefan Holm of Sweden, fourth at Sydney, is the favorite in the high jump. American Dwight Phillips has the four best long jumps this season. U.S. decathlete Tom Pappas is of Greek descent and will be claimed as family by half of Greece if he duplicates the effort that brought him the 2003 world title.

Women's outlook: Carolina Kluft of Sweden has the top two totals in the world this season in the heptathlon. Bulgaria's Ivet Lalova and France's Christine Arron have posted barely faster 100 times than Americans LaTasha Colander and Lauryn Williams. Three of the four U.S. women who combined for a world-leading mark in the 400 relay in April didn't make the team. Elvan Abeylegesse, who left her Ethiopian homeland for better training conditions in Turkey, created a sensation when she set a world record in the 5,000. Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia, the favorite in the triple jump, could beat Jones in the long jump.

- Los Angeles Times

Triathlon

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When: Aug. 25-26.

Top U.S. performers: Hunter Kemper is ranked No. 5. Barb Lindquist has been the top-ranked female triathlete since May 2003.

U.S. chances: The United States could win both gold and silver. The U.S. features the top two female triathletes in the world - Lindquist and Sheila Taormina.

Outlook: The men's competition could be a two-man race between Dmitiriy Gaag of Kazakhstan and Bevan Docherty of New Zealand.

- Orlando Sentinel

Volleyball

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When: Aug. 15-29.

Top U.S. performers: Lloyd Ball, Reid Priddy, Kevin Barnett, Tom Hoff, Logan Tom; Danielle Scott, Heather Bown.

U.S. chances: The U.S. men should make it out of pool play and at least reach the quarterfinals. The women could challenge for the gold medal.

Outlook: The U.S. men have not medaled since 1992, when they won the bronze. The Americans are in the more difficult Pool B with the Netherlands, Brazil, Russia, Italy and Australia. With China, Russia and Germany in their bracket, the U.S. women will have to fight to get to the medal round.

- Los Angeles Times

Water polo

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When: Aug. 15-29.

Top U.S. performers: Wolf Wigo and Tony Azevedo on the men's team. Brenda Villa and Ellen Estes on the women's team.

U.S. chances: The men have a very slim chance for a medal. However, the women are decided favorites.

Outlook: Hungary is the defending men's champion. Other women's contenders include Hungary, Italy and Russia.

- Los Angeles Times

Weightlifting

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When: Aug. 14-25.

Top U.S. performers: Shane Hamman (105 kilogram-plus), Oscar Chaplin III (85 kg), Chad Vaughn (77 kg), Cheryl Haworth (75 kg-plus), Tara Nott-Cunningham (48 kg).

U.S. chances: Haworth won a bronze and Nott-Cunningham won a gold in 2000, and both return for encores in Athens.

Outlook: Turkey's Halil Mutlu has jumped up to men's 62 kg after winning golds at lighter weights in 1996 and 2000. Greece's Pyrros Dimas (85 kg) and Kakhi Kakiasvilis (94 kg) go for fourth straight golds, which no weightlifter ever has managed.

-- Chicago Tribune

Wrestling

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When: Aug. 22-29.

Top U.S. performers: Rulon Gardner, Cael Sanderson, Kerry McCoy, Toccara Montgomery, Patricia Miranda.

U.S. chances: The U.S. team will be hard-pressed to recapture the seven total medals its wrestlers won in 2000.

Outlook: Three-time world champ Irinia Merlini of Ukraine is the favorite in women's 48 kilograms, but Miranda gave Merlini all she could handle in the 2003 world championship finals. Since recovering from his ski mobile accident, Gardner (120 kg Greco-Roman) continues to peak at the right moments. Sanderson (84 kg freestyle) is ranked No. 2 in the world.

- Allentown Morning Call


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