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18 Olympic Finals Scheduled for Monday


The Beijing Olympics may be in their final week, but much of the action is just getting started in several events. VOA's Jim Stevenson has this highlight of the events on the schedule Monday, including a test of endurance that combines three disciplines.

The women's triathlon final will push athletes to the limit as they swim, ride bicycles and run. American Julie Ertel says she always enjoys the part of the race when she gets to lace up her shoes.

"Running, I absolutely love," said Julie Ertel. "Not only because it is very close to the finish line. But just the feeling it gives me. It is a very clean feeling, a very strong feeling. You get to take in so [much] more of the scenery, just because you do not have to worry about what you are riding over with your bike. And just getting to see the different places by foot rather than by bike."

Among the 18 gold medals being handed out will be four in gymnastics. Spectators will see finals in men's rings and vault, and women's uneven bars and trampoline.

Shawn Johnson of the United States is the women's gymnastics All-Around runner-up and silver medalist in the floor exercise. She says going against the host nation will be a test throughout the competition.

"China is probably our biggest competition," said Shawn Johnson. "And knowing that we are going to their home turf and be competing with their own crowd and stuff does give you a little bit more pressure. But it also kind of gives us an advantage, too, just because we will be going in there, and we are working harder than ever to beat that."

The team jumping final will be taking place at the Hong Kong Equestrian Venue. The Qingdao International Marina is the venue for sailing finals in the men's and women's two-person dingy 470.

Back in Beijing, weightlifting features the men's 105-kilogram final, while the team final takes place in men's table tennis. Cyclists also will be on the track at the Laoshan Velodrome in the finals of the men's 4,000-meter team pursuit and women's points race.

Synchronized swimming will be contested in the Water Cube. U.S. veteran Kim Probst enjoys her dedication to the sport.

"As I have gotten older, I have just realized I love working out all day," said Kim Probst. "This is the one sport where it is truly an all-day commitment, six days a week. And I like waking up every morning and seeing my teammates and hopping in the pool. It is hard work. But it is a great life."

Six events will culminate in medals on and around the track inside the Birds Nest, China's new National Stadium. Soaring to perhaps new heights will be the women in the pole vault final, featuring world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, who set a record mark of five meters, three centimeters last month.

Also flying will be the discus in the women's final, while the men leap for Olympic immortality in the long jump final. Runners go for gold in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, 400-meter hurdles and women's 800-meter final.

Women's football has reached the semifinal round. The United States will practice ahead of its game with Japan at Workers Stadium in Beijing, where American Kate Markgraf knows her team will have to work hard to reach the final.

"I think Japan is probably one of the most unpredictable teams in the tournament," said Kate Markgraf. "Their attacking style is lots of numbers, quick movement of the ball, and all 11 players involved in moving the ball forward. So it is very tough to defend them."

The other semifinal is a rematch of last year's Women's World Cup final between champion Germany and Brazil.

Baseball, basketball, boxing, canoe and kayak heats are among some of the other day's events leading to finals later in the week.