Including the start of the Olympic football tournament two days before
the Opening Ceremonies, the Beijing Olympics have reached the halfway
point of scheduled competition. VOA's Jim Stevenson has this preview
of the action Friday, which is highlighted with 18 event finals.
The midway point of the Olympics marks the gradual shift from swimming
to track and field, the two marquee series of events of the games.
China's National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest because of its
intertwined steel exterior, is the venue for the first two athletics
finals of the 29th Olympiad.
Gold medals will be awarded for the longest distance in men's shot put and the fastest time in the women's 10,000-meter final.
continues inside the nearby Water Cube, where four more events will
produce Olympic champions. American Ian Crocker has his own
explanation for the tidal wave of records set at these Olympics.
is unique versus track and field because there is more resistance in
the water. And so you are trying to overcome a little bit more in
swimming. And therefore there is more room for improvement. And that
is why I think the world records keep improving year after year," says
The women go for speed in the 100-meter freestyle and
200-meter breaststroke. The men will swim the 200-meter backstroke, a
race that features Americans Ryan Lochte and Aaron Piersol. Both men
share the world record in the event (1:54.32).
200-meter individual medley will be highlighted by world-record holder
Michael Phelps. The American will be trying to win his sixth gold
medal in Beijing.
Badminton awards its first title of the
games in women's doubles. Arrows fill the air in the men's individual
archery final while the swords slash and jab in the men's team epee
final. The coveted women's individual all-around gymnastics title will
come at the National Indoor Stadium.
Judo culminates with its
heaviest weight categories as the women compete in the over-78 kilogram
division and the men go for gold in the over-100 kilogram class. The
most accurate aim will be needed to win the men's 50-meter rifle in the
Beijing University of Aeronautics and
Astronautics is the location for weightlifting finals in the women's
76-kilogram and men's 85-kilogram weight divisions. The men's team
sprint finals open track cycling. Canoe and Kayak finals are also
Tournament play continues in basketball, baseball and softball.
U.S. women are 2-0 so far in softball. With the event being dropped
after Beijing, U.S. infielder Crystal Bustos says the tournament will
hopefully show that softball should remain an Olympic sport.
sport is not necessarily popular in some parts of the world," said
Bustos. "It is definitely a worldwide sport, but there are some parts
of the world that is not as popular and there is some confusion as to
exactly what softball is. And I think if we go over there to Beijing
and we put on the best show you have ever seen of Olympic softball,
that people are going to understand this needs to stay in the Olympics."
volleyball, the U.S. women have a 2-1 record in Pool-A. Nicole Davis
says her team knows which nations will likely be the most challenging.
"Brazil, Russia, Italy, China, I think we are all at a very, very high level now, pretty even," said Davis.
tournament action includes beach volleyball, boxing, field hockey,
football, sailing, table tennis, handball, tennis and water polo.