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Olympic Tournaments Begin to Take Shape in China

A relatively light day of athletic competition sets the stage Wednesday for the final push of events at the Olympic games in China. From Beijing, VOA's Jim Stevenson reports, while just 11 gold medals will be won, several tournaments are nearing their culmination with medal-round contests.

Men's basketball reaches the quarter-final round at the 29th Olympiad. The Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium will be a busy place, with eight teams playing in four games to set up the semi-final round on Friday. The bronze and gold medal games will be Sunday before Closing Ceremonies draw the curtain on the Beijing Olympics.

The U.S. squad of elite National Basketball Association players is undefeated after five games. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski is quick to stress the players know their roles. "It is not an All-Star team. Like we have a starting five (players) and people coming off the bench. The guys coming off the bench are All-Stars on their own (NBA) teams. And so, they have to have the ego of what is good for the team," he said.

Table tennis, canoe and kayak, BMX cycling, water polo and volleyball competitions are also setting up for their finales.

Softball semi-finals and the bronze medal game are at Fengtai Field. Beach Volleyball reaches the semi-finals, while the boxing tournament features semi-finals in the flyweight and middleweight classes.

Baseball also is nearing an end at the temporary Wukesong Field, with four preliminary games on the schedule. The United States plays Japan. The Americans are hoping to improve their 4-2 record so far. Team manager Davey Johnson says all of the Asian teams, even the host nation, are now very good at the American-born sport. "Korea, Taiwan, and now China. China, it is not going to be very long before they produce a lot of good ball players. So, I just think international baseball is growing in popularity all around the world," he said,

Among the medal events Wednesday are the equestrian individual jumping finals, men's and women's windsurfer RSX sailing finals, women's 10-kilometer swimming marathon, and the duet free routine final in synchronized swimming.

Taekwondo winners will emerge from the women's under-49 kilogram and men's 58-kilogram categories. More champions too will come from the wrestling mat in the men's 66- and 74-kilogram divisions.

Just three medals will be won inside the National Stadium Wednesday, with finals in the fast men's 200-meter race, women's hammer throw and women's 400-meter hurdles.