olympic duels

PARIS - Potential athletics duels at the Beijing Olympic Games to look forward to:

PARIS - Potential athletics duels at the Beijing Olympic Games to look forward to:

l Men's 100m: Usain Bolt (Jamaica) v Asafa Powell (Jamaica) v Tyson Gay (USA). Not really a duel as much as a three-way fight, but none of the trio can be discounted. Powell and Bolt are the past and present record holders in the event, while Gay ran even faster but it was not counted because of the wind.

There are doubts over all three of them, the two Jamaicans because of their big race temperament and Gay - who is bidding to add Olympic glory to his world crown - because of a left hamstring injury. That caused him to pull out of the London Grand Prix meeting and he will go into the Olympics without a race for over a month.

l Men's 400m: Jeremy Wariner (USA) v LaShawn Merritt (USA). Should the men's 100m fail to live up to expectations then this event should prove a remedy for those feeling let down.

Wariner has perhaps been given a timely wake-up call this season by Merritt, seeing his nine-race unbeaten streak ended in Berlin on June 1 and then edged out for the US Olympic trial title. Wariner has hit back with two successive wins over Merritt in Rome and Paris.

l Men's 1500m: Bernard Lagat (USA) v Augustine Choge (Kenya). This should be a battle worth seeing as Lagat bids to add a gold to the bronze and silver he has already won in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. Only this time if he does get to the top step of the podium it will not be the Kenyan national anthem that rings out but the Stars and Stripes of his adoptive country. Thus no greater incentive than for the Kenyans to frustrate his plans and Choge looks to have the best chance of achieving that.

l Men's 110m hurdles: Liu Xiang (China) v Dayron Robles (Cuba). China's best hopes of landing gold in the track and field lie with Liu Xiang, the reigning Olympic and world champion and former world record holder. The 25-year-old has kept a low profile this season and has shunned media interviews while he prepares for the Games. His thunder on the European circuit has been stolen by 21-year-old Robles, who has set a new world record of 12,87 seconds.

l Women's 400m: Sanya Richards (USA) v Christina Ohuruogo (Great Britain). Ohuruogo may be the world and Commonwealth champion but the Jamaican-born Richards is still seen as the dominant force on the circuit in the event. The 24-year-old Briton will put up a tough fight but Richards, coached by Dudley Hart, looks too strong.

l Women's 800m: Janeth Jepkosgei (Kenya) v Pamela Jelimo (Kenya). It is an extraordinary statistic that no Kenyan female athlete has won a track and field gold but in these two they probably have the fireworks to end that barren run. Ordinarily Jepkosgei must have thought that she was the one most likely to become a heroine having been crowned world champion last year. But the 25-year-old has seen her number one status usurped by the young pretender, who has trounced her every time they have met this year. Jepkosgei does have the advantage of experience at big championships. - Sapa-AP