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In London, the sports world once again will be focused on whether Bolt can blow away the field in track’s marquee sprints (despite his unspectacular recent form), and whether Phelps can win the three medals he needs to reach 19 and become the most-decorated Olympian of all time before heading off into retirement.
Beyond that, the home country will be pulling for star heptathlete Jessica Ennis, track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy (going for his fifth gold medal) and doubles rowers Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, among others — though Coe has acknowledged that "Team GB" will have a battle on its hands to finish even fourth in the medal count, the way it did in Beijing.
Countdown to London
Today marks the start of The Salt Lake Tribune’s countdown to the London Olympics that run from July 27 to Aug. 12. We’ll have regular features on the most compelling athletes and top storylines — both local and international — as we tick off the days until the opening ceremony.
U.S. Olympic Trials
Athletes in three of the most glamorous sports in the Olympics will contest high-profile trials in the coming weeks, to determine much of Team USA:
» Track & Field, June 22-25 and June 28-July 1, Eugene, Ore.
» Swimming, June 25 to July 2, Omaha, Neb.
» Gymnastics, June 28 to July 1, San Jose, Calif.
"The Germans are probably going to bring the strongest team they’ve ever brought to a Games," he told the Associated Press. "The French are very, very strong this time, and the Australians will think fourth place is very much up for grabs. We could end up with more medals than we got in Beijing and maybe not finish fourth in the medals table."
And though the sailing toward the opening ceremony has been relatively smooth, organizers have not completely avoided controversy.
Critics have targeted a ballooning $15 billion budget that’s roughly triple the original estimate, a massive security presence that could include deadly surface-to-air rockets on residential rooftops, an ongoing doping dispute that could allow previously banned drug cheats such as sprinter Dwain Chambers and cyclist David Millar to compete, and an Orwellian (if admittedly unenforceable) policy that aims to ban ticket-holders from posting photos or videos to social media sites.
On top of that, beer will cost $11 a pint inside the venues.
But all of that is practically standard operating procedure for the Olympics, anymore.
Surely, organizers are just happy the torch is safe.
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