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Beijing Olympics Sprint to the Finish


Saturday's schedule at the Beijing Olympics is the second busiest of the games. With 32 medal events, the pace is stepping up to bring the Olympics to a conclusion. VOA's Jim Stevenson has this preview of the penultimate day of competition in China.

Baseball, men's football and field hockey, women's basketball, women's volleyball and team handball bring several high profile tournaments to a golden end.

Nigeria will play defending champion Argentina in the gold medal game of the Olympic men's football tournament. The game at the Birds Nest national stadium is a rematch of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics final, when Nigeria defeated Argentina, 3-2, to become the first African team to win Olympic football gold.

Cuba and South Korea will play in perhaps the last Olympic baseball final ever. The sport is being dropped after the Beijing Games. The United States and Japan will play for bronze.

U.S. team manager Davey Johnson says the end of the tournament tops his long baseball career. "That to me would be probably one of the last steps on a long journey working with USA Baseball. I have enjoyed my time when I managed the Dutch team. So, I have really taken care of my baseball fix (craving). This is going to be the pinnacle really of my career," he said.

The United States faces Australia in a battle of undefeated teams in the women's basketball final. U.S. head coach Anne Donovan says the path to victory will be tough. "We have had tremendous competition with Russia, with Australia, with Cuba recently. So we know we are going into a challenging situation. And looking forward to coming away with the gold."

Another U.S. women's team plays Brazil in the volleyball gold medal match. Norway and Russia battle in the women's handball title game.

Finals are also scheduled in men's 10-meter platform diving, individual all-around rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming's team free routine, men's singles table tennis and cross-country mountain biking.

Boxing features five finals in the flyweight, featherweight, welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight categories, all inside the Worker's Indoor Arena. Six champions will be crowned in Canoe and Kayak events, four men's and two women's finals each covering 500 meters.

Taekwondo wraps up with finals in the women's over-67 kilogram weight division and men's over-80 kilogram class.

Athletics finals will continue to grab the spotlight with the men's 800- and 1,500 meter finals, and the women's final run over 1,500 meters. The athlete who launches a javelin the farthest inside the massive National Stadium will be rewarded with a gold medal.

A women's high jump champion will be determined. And exciting relay races will feature men's and women's four-member teams with each runner covering 400 meters.