LONDON 2012 will serve up some of the biggest clashes on Earth in a 16-day feast of sport. Here are some of the best choices on the Olympic menu.
Usain Bolt v Yohan Blake (athletics)
Bolt took the Games’ glamour events to another level with his world record performances in Beijing. Since then, fellow Jamaican Blake has emerged from his shadow, winning the 100m and 200m at Olympic trials. Millions will tune in when they go head-to-head – make sure you’re among them.
Men’s 100m final: from 3.45am, Mon Aug 6; 200m from 4.30am, Fri Aug 10
Michael Phelps v Ryan Lochte (swimming)
These chalk-and-cheese American teammates face off in the 200m and 400m individual medley. The flamboyant Lochte lost to a reserved Phelps 17 times in the shorter race before beating him at the 2010 US nationals. Phelps turned the tables at the Olympic trials but not before Lochte had beaten him in the 400m.
Men’s 200m IM final: from 6.55pm, Sat Jul 28
Men’s 400m final: from 6.55pm, Wed Aug 1
Stephanie Rice vs Alicia Coutts (swimming)
Rice’s best chance is in the 200m individual medley, where she will face fierce resistance from fellow Australian Alicia Coutts. Throw China’s Siwen Ye into the mix and the race should be a cracker.
Women’s 200m individual medley: from 6.55pm, Mon Jul 30.
Sally Pearson v Kellie Wells and Dawn Harper (athletics)
Pearson’s shock defeat to Wells after a fall in the warm-up for her final pre-London event was a timely reminder of how hot the competition will be in the women’s 100m hurdles. Defending champion Harper is also a threat to the Australian race favourite, while a third American, Lolo Jones, cannot be discounted.
Women’s 100m hurdles: from 4.12am, Wed Aug 8.
Anna Meares v Victoria Pendleton (cycling)
With no love lost between these two, the tension at the velodrome will be cranked up. Briton Pendleton knocked Meares off her Olympic perch in the sprint in Beijing and the introduction of the keirin in London – an event which sparked their feud years ago – just adds spice.
Women’s keirin final: from 12.55am, Sat Aug 4; sprint from 12.55am, Wed Aug 8
Australia v Britain, team pursuit (cycling)
The Australians have a proud history in this event, dating back to their 1984 gold medal in Los Angeles. But the British are the reigning world record holders and Olympic champions and will have the home crowd roaring them home like thunder.
Men’s team pursuit final: from 12.55am, Sat Aug 4
Australia v Britain, coxless fours (rowing)
This has been billed as the Ashes on water and will be just as keenly contested with 37-year-old veteran Drew Ginn lining up with Joshua Dunkley-Smith, James Chapman and Will Lockwood. Australia and Britain between them have won gold in the past five Olympics, with Britain taking the last three.
Men’s four final: from 6.25pm, Wed Aug 4
Opals v US (basketball)
Bridesmaids Australia will be looking to break a run of three silvers but they must contend with the powerful Americans, who have won the past four Olympic titles.
Women’s basketball preliminaries: from 1.35am, Sun Jul 29
Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic (tennis)
One of the great rivalries in world sport and, with the injured Rafael Nadal out of the picture, the competition intensifies. Federer returns to Wimbledon, where he won his 17th Grand Slam title three weeks previously.
Tennis starts Sat Jul 28
Tom Slingsby v Paul Goodison (sailing)
A rivalry that spilled into the pub when Britain’s defending Olympic champion Goodison confronted gold medal favourite Slingsby over a move in a warm-up regatta, where the Australian won in the Laser class. “We used to be good mates, we don’t really get along too good any more,” Slingsby said.
Sailing competition starts Sun, Jul 29.