Archery: Individual and team medals are awarded for men and women. The U.S. men have won six gold medals since the sport returned in 1972, including winning team and individual golds in Atlanta. South Korea dominates the women's sport, winning individual and team gold at the last three Olympics.
Badminton: Single-elimination tournaments are held for men's and women's singles and doubles and mixed doubles. Asian countries won 14 of the 15 medals in Atlanta and nothing much is expected to change this year.
Baseball: Professionals are allowed to compete for the first time in the Olympics, although the United States will use minor league players because the major league teams are in the middle of their pennant race. Cuba won the first two Olympic gold medals in 1992 and 1996, but could face stiff challenges this year. During the 1999 Pan American Games Cuba barely beat American and Canadian teams stocked with professionals.
Basketball: Since professionals have been allowed in 1992, the American men's "Dream Team'' of NBA players has gone undefeated. That dominance will continue this year. The American women won the gold in 1996, 1988 and 1984. The former Soviet Union won it 1976, 1980 and 1992. The Americans will make a strong defense of their title, with challenges expected to come from Russia, Australia, Brazil and China.
Beach Volleyball: After a popular debut in Atlanta this sport is likely to draw huge crowds in Sydney, where it will be played on a real beach, Bondi Beach. Brazil looks like the team to beat in men's and women's competition. The United States and Australia will contend for the women's medals while Argentina and Switzerland are the other top men's teams. If American Karch Kiraly and partner Adam Johnson can overcome the odds and Kiraly's injured shoulder to win a gold medal, Kiraly would join Carl Lewis and Al Oerter as the only athletes to win gold in four Olympic Games.
Boxing: Cuban heavyweight Felix Savon is trying to become the third three-time Olympic champion. The United States has not won more than one gold medal since they won three in 1988, but it did qualify boxers in all 12 weight classes. Cuba is the top-rated team.
Canoe-Kayak: The United States qualified in only two men's races and one women's race. Women compete in kayaks while men compete in canoe and kayak.
Cycling: There are competitions in mountain biking, road racing and track racing. France leads the way in track racing, followed by the United States, Germany and Australia. America's Lance Armstrong, two time Tour de France champion, is the man to beat in the road race, even after being struck by a car while practicing in France two weeks ago.
Diving: The United States has won 125 of the 225 Olympic medals, but it could get shut out this year. China won three of four gold medals in Atlanta. New this year is a synchronized event with eight pairs of divers competing.
Equestrian: Competition is in dressage, jumping and the three-day event combining dressage, cross-country and showjumping. Germany has been the big winner in the last four Olympics. European and U.S. riders have dominated the three-day event, although Australia and New Zealand have come on strong.
Fencing: Men compete in individual and team events in foil, sabre and epee. Women compete in individual and team events in foil and epee. Russian men dominated in 1996 and are expected to do well again.
Field Hockey: Australia is a top contender in both men and women's events. The United Stated didn't qualify a team in either tournament.
Gymnastics: Individual and team competitions take place in artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, and in a new discipline, trampoline. Russia and China are favored in the men's artistic gymnastics, but tattooed and pierced American Blaine Wilson could challenge for the individual all-around title. The American women, dubbed the "Magnificent Seven," won in Atlanta, but with only two of the team returning, they are not expected to compete for the gold. Trampoline makes its debut this year. Dominique Dawes and Amy Chow are the returning veterans. In the women-only rhythmic gymnastics the Ukraine leads the way, followed by Russia, Bulgaria, Belarus and Spain. Russia, France and Belarus stand out in trampoline.
Handball: Europe dominates this fast and physical sport for men and women, with Sweden, Russia and Yugoslavia the men's favorites and defending champion Denmark, South Korea and Norway the top women's teams. The United States didn't qualify.
Judo: Men and women each compete in seven weight classes. Belgium, France, Japan, Korea and Germany top the men's field and Cuba tops the women. Judo, derived in part from jujitsu, the hand-to-hand combat technique of ancient samurai warriors, mean "the gentle way" in Japanese. While throwing opponents to the floor wins most matches, it is the only Olympic sport where submission holds allow choking an opponent or breaking an arm.
Modern pentathlon: Sweden dominated this event, which features shooting, fencing, swimming, showjumping and a 3000-meter run, until the 1960s, when Hungary and Russia began to dominate. Women compete for the first time this year.
Rowing: Men and women compete in a variety of races, with from one to eight people rowing. While a record 51 countries qualified for Sydney, the United States is the only country to send a full contingent of 14 boats and 48 athletes. Steve Redgrave of Great Britain, widely hailed as the greatest rower ever, is a six-time World Champion, and won gold medals at the last four Olympic Games. Women compete in six of the 14 medal events. The races are divided into sculling and sweep oar, with heavyweight and lightweight divisions. A rower has one oar in sweep rowing, an oar in each hand in sculling. Australia won the most medals in Atlanta in 1996, but the United States, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and Switzerland all could win gold in Sydney. Athletes training at the Augusta Rowing Center will compete in double and quad sculling events.
Sailing: There are 11 sailing events in nine classes of boats. With Sydney Harbour offering one of the most picturesque settings of the Olympics, this should be a popular sport. American sailors will try to make up for their embarrassing two-bronze performance in Savannah in 1996. The United States has won the most Olympic sailing medals, with Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain and France also doing well. Australia won the most medals in 1996 and is favored again.
Shooting: Men and women compete in several pistol and rifle events. European shooters, particularly from countries of the former Soviet Union, dominate men's rifle and pistol, while Australia and Italy lead men's shotgun. Eastern Europeans also head the women's competition after winning three of five categories in Atlanta. Germany and China also have top competitors.
Soccer: U.S. women, who won the first women's gold medal in 1996, are again favored. Nigeria, Brazil, Argentina and Germany head the men's field.
Softball: American women electrified the Atlanta Olympics by winning the inaugural gold medal and are heavy favorites to repeat. Lisa Fernandez pitched five consecutive perfect games in the U.S. team's pre-Olympic tour. Dot Richardson has competed her medical studies and is back on the team, moving from shortstop to second base.
Swimming: This could be the scene of the hottest action at the Olympics, as swimming-mad Australians will pack the pool to cheer on their team. The United States has dominated Olympic swimming, but the Aussies have closed the gap since 1996, losing a meet to the U.S. by one event last year. The Olympic pool is lightning-fast, with 14 world records in two years.
Synchronized swimming: Competition is in women's duet and team. The United States and Canada won every gold and silver medal in the first four Olympic meets, but all their top swimmers retired after 1996. Russia and Japan have moved up in the world rankings.
Table Tennis: China has dominated the past three Olympics, as the women took all six gold medals while the men won four.
Taekwando: A new sport this year, there will be four weight classes each for men and women. Korea dominates, but other Asian and European countries have begun to challenge.
Tennis: Professionals are allowed in the Olympics, but participation by the top stars is spotty. A strong American team, lead by sisters Venus and Serena Williams, could be the best in the world.
Track: The highlight could be Marion Jones as she goes for an unprecedented five gold medals in the 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter and 1,600-meter relays and the long jump. Michael Johnson tries to repeat in the 400-meter and Maurice Greene tries to keep the title of world's fastest human in the 100-meter sprint. Former gold medalist Javier Sotomayor of Cuba makes a controversial return after testing positive for cocaine and Australia's Cathy Freeman hopes for gold in the 200-meter and 400-meter runs.
Triathlon: A new sport this year, the first triathlon race was held in San Diego in 1974. In consists of three legs, swimming, bike riding and running, with no stop between legs. The United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have been the top competitors, but Australians now dominate the world scene for both men and women.
Volleyball: Cuba will try for its third straight gold in the women's competition while Cuba, Italy and the Netherlands lead the men's field.
Water Polo: Women's water polo debuts, with the United States one of the favorites. European teams have dominated the men's game in the Olympics except for occasional wins by the United States. Hungary, Russia, Italy and defending champion Spain and the teams to beat.
Weightlifting: China should dominate in the debut of the women's competition, but Savannah's Cheryl Haworth could bring home a gold. Greece and Turkey are top contenders in the men's weight classes.
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