The big push begins Thursday for the conclusion of the Olympic Games in Beijing. A total of 23 medals are to be awarded as four days of competition remain. VOA's Jim Stevenson reports from China where tournaments are concluding and individual events are requiring the best from the finalists.
Wrestling wraps up its long run at the Beijing Games with three final events. Medals will go out in the men's 84-, 96- and 105-kilogram weight divisions.
The women's water polo tournament ends with the gold medal match between the United States and the Netherlands. American Natalie Golda wants gold.
"You know, you see all those other people getting their medals watching TV. Everybody is getting medals every day. And you just want one for yourself. So hopefully we can bring home that gold medal," she said.
Gold will also be won on the sand in women's Beach Volleyball at the special venue constructed at Chaoyang Park. Men's and women's BMX cycling rolls to the finish line at Laoshan Bicycle Motocross venue.
The final Olympic softball game is between the United States and Japan at Fenghai Field. The sport bids farewell to the Olympics as it is being dropped from the games for 2012 in London. Women's football finishes with the bronze and gold medal games at Worker's Stadium. The United States women face Brazil for the Olympic title.
Sailing finals will be held in the men's Keelboat Star event and Multihull Tornado race. The men endure the 10-kilometer swimming marathon while the women will jump and fall for gold in the 10-meter platform diving final.
American Laura Wilkinson says Beijing is a great place to have the final.
"The Chinese crowd knows a lot about diving. And they love diving. It is one of their nation's biggest sports. So they are very interesting. And they really love their Chinese divers. But the great part is they respect the divers from other countries. And when they do hard dives or when they do really good dives, they will cheer you on as well. So it is definitely a good atmosphere," she said.
But in that atmosphere, Wilkinson says there is a field that will try to keep the Chinese from collecting another diving gold. "They will probably have a lot of pressure. I am sure some of them might crack a little bit under it. But you are going to see a lot of them hold up to it as well. So it will be interesting to watch what happens. But I think that is also a good opportunity for us to go in there and try to put pressure on them and dive really well and kind of see where they fall," she said.
Five disciplines - shooting, fencing, swimming, riding and running - make up the grueling but entertaining men's Modern Pentathlon. Every athlete, including American Dennis Bowsher, has his favorite and least favorite event.
"For me the easiest I think would be shooting. It is something that I have done well at and was able to just pick up pretty easily. And then the most difficult is fencing because it is a combat sport. You are going against somebody. I have fenced for five years. But if I am going against somebody who has fenced for 15 years, they are going to have a little bit more experience so a little bit more of an advantage," he said.
Marquee events in the women's 200-meter and men's 400-meter finals highlight track and field action. The men also go for medals in the triple jump and 110-meter hurdles, while the women contest javelin throw and 20-kilometer walk.
Taekwondo champions will emerge in the women's under-57 and men's under-66 kilogram weight classes.