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Athletes Face Busy Olympic Schedule, Saturday


Saturday will be one of the busiest days at the Olympics in China, with 30 medal events on the schedule. VOA's Jim Stevenson has this preview from Beijing, where rowing will account for nearly half of the gold medals up for grabs.

Beijing's Shunyi Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Park will host nothing but medal events Saturday, with eight among the men and five women's races. Among the men, years of training and survival through qualifying heats all lead to the sprints that will decide gold medals.

Podiums will be filled with the fastest in lightweight double sculls, lightweight fours, quadruple sculls, men's eight, single sculls, men's pair, doubles sculls and men's four. The women pull their oars in lightweight doubles sculls, quadruple sculls, single sculls, double sculls and the pair discipline.

More opportunities for US swimming medals

Also on the open water, heavyweight dinghy-Finn and women's keelboat finals will lead the sailing action at Qingdao International Marina. Back in Beijing, swimming features four medal opportunities. The men go all out in the 50-meter event, while Michael Phelps aims for a record-tying seventh gold medal when he swims in the 100-meter butterfly finals.

"Tomorrow is going to be a very tough race," Phelps said. "For me to be sort of a player in that race tomorrow, I have to be closer at the 50 (meter mark). You know, I was over a body length behind yesterday in the preliminaries and came up a little short."

The women use the backstroke to cover 200-meters while needing stamina and consistent form in the 800-meter freestyle race.

Tennis men's and women's doubles finals

On the tennis courts, gold awaits the winners in men's and women's doubles. Smaller rackets in Badminton will be used to claim medals in men's doubles and women's singles matches. Track cycling adds to the cascade of medals in men's Kerin, individual pursuit and the points race. American Sara Hammer has her sights on one specific rider.

"There are five or six of us who are right there," Hammer said. "But the main competition, the one who I think about during training, is Rebecca Romero. That is the one who I think about what she is doing."

Fencing, shooting competition continues

Women's team foil highlights fencing, while shooting champions will emerge in men's skeet and the 25-meter rapid fire pistol. Weightlifting gold in the over-75 kilogram women's class, and wrestling titles in the women's 48 and 55-kilogram divisions will be awarded Saturday.

American men eye gold in water polo

Tournament play continues in several sports, including water polo. The American men play Croatia in a Group-B match. U.S. goalkeeper Merrill Moses knows several nations have a chance to medal.

"You are looking at Montenegro. You are looking at Hungary, Croatia," Moses said. "But every Olympic game is usually about a one goal difference. So you have to bring your best game. You have to bring your A-game (the best). But I would say Serbia and Hungary are the teams probably to beat."

At Bird's Nest Stadium, men's 20k walk, women's shot put, men's 100m sprint

The men's 20-kilometer walk finishes at China's National Stadium, where the women's shot put final will be held.

And the day's big event will be the crowning of the world's fastest man in the 100-meter sprint, featuring world record holder Usain Bolt and fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell.

American challenger Tyson Gay will be there too. He ran the fastest time ever recorded for the 100-meter distance. His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials is not a world record because it was wind assisted.

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