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WHAT TO WATCH

The Baltimore Sun

What to watch Ray Frager's guide to the 2008 Olympics, which begin tonight with the opening ceremony at 7:30 (all prime-time listings for chs. 11, 4)

AUG 9

HIGHLIGHTS

It's the first episode of the Phelps and Hoff Show, as Baltimore's gifts to the swimming world compete in their versions of the 400-meter individual medley. They hold the men's and women's records for the 400 IM and could be holding gold medals tonight (though it will be day in Beijing).

Locals to watch

Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff, of course. And you'll be watching them for a week.

Prime time

Beach volleyball (men, women), gymnastics (men), swimming (men, women)

8 p.m.-midnight

AUG 10

Highlights

Hoff goes in the 400 freestyle, and Phelps swims in the 400 freestyle relay. At the U.S. trials, Hoff pulled away to win this race after sitting in fourth halfway through. The men's 100 breaststroke could be a Brendan Hansen-Kosuke Kitajima showdown.

Local to watch

Carmelo Anthony has played against Yao Ming before, but never like this (U.S. vs. China basketball).

Prime time

Gymnastics (women), rowing (men, women), swimming (men, women), synchronized diving (women)

7 p.m.-midnight

AUG 11

Highlights

If things go according to plan, Phelps will pick up gold medal No. 3 in the 200 freestyle. No finals for Hoff this night/day. In a drier environment, the men's team gymnastics concludes. The Chinese are so good, they don't need home-court advantage.

Local to watch

Look for shots of Debbie Phelps in the stands, cheering on her son.

Prime time

Beach volleyball (men, women), gymnastics (men), swimming (men, women), synchronized diving (men)

8 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

AUG 12

Highlights

Could be a four-medal haul for our swimmers: Hoff is in the 200 freestyle and 200 IM finals, and Phelps is in the 200 butterfly and 800 freestyle relay finals.

Local to watch

Scott Parsons of Bethesda, who finished sixth at Athens, paddles in the men's kayak slalom.

Prime time

Beach volleyball (men, women), gymnastics (women), swimming (men, women), synchronized diving (women)

8 p.m.-midnight

AUG 13

Highlights

No need to manufacture any fake Movie of the Week drama out of this: American Eric Shanteau, who should be swimming in the 200 breaststroke final, is competing after being diagnosed with testicular cancer and putting off surgery until after the Games.

Local to watch

Hoff will be seeking another medal in the 800 relay final.

Prime time

Beach volleyball (men, women), cycling (women), gymnastics (men), swimming (men, women), synchronized diving (men)

8 p.m.-1 a.m.

AUG 14

Highlights

Shawn Johnson, 16, will try to join Mary Lou Retton (1984) and Carly Patterson (2004) as the third American woman to win gold in the gymnastics all-around. Johnson won the all-around at the world championships last year. She could be pushed by teammate Nastia Liukin.

Local to watch

The 200 IM final for Phelps - if you're scoring at home, that could be gold No. 6.

Prime time

Beach volleyball (men, women), gymnastics (women), swimming (men, women), volleyball (men)

8 p.m.-1 a.m.

AUG 15

Highlights

Phelps takes on Ian Crocker in the 100 butterfly, and no less an authority than Mark Spitz called this race Phelps' "most difficult hurdle." The pool also hosts the blink-and-you'll-miss-it men's 50 freestyle. Speaking of speed, track features heats in the men's 100.

Local to watch

After this, she can rest: Hoff swims her final race, the 800 freestyle.

Prime time

Beach volleyball (men, women), swimming (men, women), volleyball (men), track and field (men)

8 p.m.-midnight

AUG 16

Highlights

Phelps will need the help of teammates if he is to win the final gold of his Great Eight. He'll most likely be handling the butterfly leg of the 400 medley relay. On the track, Tyson Gay competes for "world's fastest man" in the 100.

Locals to watch

If the U.S. men are alive in soccer, ex-Terps Chris Seitz, Robbie Rogers and Maurice Edu could be in action.

Prime time

Marathon (women), swimming (men, women), track and field (men)

7:30 p.m.-midnight

AUG 17

Highlights

Put your money on Chinese gymnast Cheng Fei in the women's vault. She's a three-time world champ. But American Shawn Johnson could win gold in the women's floor exercise. The home crowd also will be roaring for its medal-ready women divers in the 3-meter springboard.

Local to watch

Khankham Malaythong of Rockville said he wants badminton gold. The mixed doubles final is today.

Prime time

Gymnastics (men, women), diving (women), track and field (men, women), triathlon (women)

7 p.m.-midnight

AUG 18

Highlights

You should root for Irina Karavayeva in the women's trampoline. Why? The Russian is 33 and still bouncing, and, in the 2001 world championships, she gave her gold medal to the runner-up when it was discovered Karavayeva had won on a scoring error.

Locals to watch

The U.S. women, featuring former Terps Dina Rizzo, Keli Smith and Lauren Powley, face England in field hockey.

Prime time

Beach volleyball (women), gymnastics (men, women), track and field (men, women), trampoline (women) 8 p.m.-

midnight

AUG 19

Highlights

No, you didn't accidentally tune in the X Games. Those guys riding bikes and flying over dirt jumps are BMX racers, competing in a sport making its medal debut. Just think how snowboarding has changed the profile of the Winter Olympics.

Local to watch

Consider U.S. success in freestyle wrestling good news in College Park, because UM's new coach is American assistant Kerry McCoy.

Prime time

BMX cycling (men, women), diving (men), track and field (men, women), gymnastics (men, women)

8 p.m.-midnight

AUG 20

Highlights

If Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh aren't playing in the beach volleyball final, consider it quite the upset. The U.S. pair, the defending Olympic champion, have a 101-match winning streak coming into the Games. To prepare, they practiced against 1996 medalists Karch Kiraly and Mike Dodd.

Local to watch

Will Carmelo and the Redeem Team be on a roll? All four basketball quarterfinals are played.

Prime time

Beach volleyball (women), BMX cycling (men, women), gymnastics (men, women), track and field (men, women)

8 p.m.-midnight

AUG 21

Highlights

American 400 runners Jeremy Wariner (the Athens gold medalist) and LaShawn Merritt have been going back and forth beating each other this year, including Merritt's win at the trials. They will be trying to extend the U.S. winning streak in this event to seven consecutive Olympics.

Local to watch

To challenge in women's table tennis, Gaithersburg's Gao Jun has mostly lived and trained in her native China.

Prime time

Beach volleyball (men), diving (women), track and field (men, women)

8 p.m.-midnight

AUG 22

Highlights

The "world's greatest athlete" is crowned with the completion of the decathlon. American Bryan Clay, who has the world's highest point total this year, will try to win gold to go with his Athens silver. The U.S. hasn't won this event since 1996.

Local to watch

Former Oxon Hill sprinter Mechelle Lewis will find out whether ditching Madison Avenue results in a 400 relay gold.

Prime time

Diving (men), track and field (men, women)

8 p.m.-midnight

AUG 23

Highlights

The men's marathon, often considered the climax of the Games, starts at Tiananmen Square and runs past the Forbidden City. Ryan Hall gives the United States a contender for a medal. Meb Keflezighi won silver in Athens, but he failed to qualify for the U.S. team.

Local to watch

Gary Russell Jr. of Capitol Heights might have fought his way into the bantamweight boxing final.

Prime time

Diving (men), marathon (men), track and field (men, women)

7:30 p.m.-midnight

AUG 24

Highlights

All of those happy, smiling faces - the athletes can finally relax and enjoy the show as the Games come to a close.

Local to watch

How many medals will Phelps wear as he walks in the closing ceremony?

Prime time

Closing ceremony, volleyball (men)

7 p.m.-11 p.m.

Compiled from nbcolympics.com, wire reports and other publications.

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