London, UK…Olympic medals will be awarded in seven sports on an action-packed first full day of competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Athletes will be chasing gold in archery, cycling, fencing, judo, shooting, swimming and weightlifting on Saturday, with a total of 12 Olympic titles up for grabs.
The men’s team archery competition will take place at Lord’s Cricket Ground, with Korea’s Im Dong Hyun aiming to become the first archer to win three gold medals in the event, following his successes at the 2004 and 2008 Games.
Kim Bubmin and Oh Jin Hyek will join him in the Korean team, but they will face stiff competition from the USA, whose team features individual men’s No.1 Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski and Jacob Wukie.
In cycling, the men’s road race will see competitors tackle a 250km out-and-back course that is the longest in Olympic history and features nine laps of a 15.5km section, the highlight being the short but steep Box Hill climb. Up to one million spectators are expected to line the route, which will start and finish on The Mall in central London.
Reigning world champion Mark Cavendish from Great Britain and Germany’s Andre Greipel will be among the top sprinters while attackers such as the Belgian Philippe Gilbert and Peter Sagan of Slovakia will be hunting for a breakaway.
In the ExCeL centre, which is hosting the fencing competition, Italy’s Valentina Vezzali will be chasing a record fourth consecutive individual Olympic gold medal in the women’s foil. With three individual and two team Olympic gold medals, as well as six individual and seven team world titles, Vezzali is already the most successful single-weapon fencer in history and will also be trying to become the first woman to win four consecutive individual gold medals in any sport at the Olympic Games.
The judo events also get underway on Saturday at ExCeL, with medals up for grabs in the men’s -60kg and women’s -48kg events. Uzbekistan’s world no.1 Rishod Sobirov will be aiming to add an Olympic gold medal to his men’s -60kg world title and the bronze medal he won in Beijing in 2008, while Romania’s Alina Dumitru will be hoping to defend her women’s -48kg title, after winning gold four years ago.
The Excel centre will also play host to the weightlifting events during London 2012, with the women’s 48kg gold medal due to be contested on Saturday. China’s four-time world champion Wang Mingjuan will be among the favourites to strike gold.
Saturday will also see the Olympic medals awarded in both the women’s 10m air rifle and men’s 10m air pistol events, which will take place at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
Defending champion Katerina Emmons from the Czech Republic could become the first athlete to win consecutive gold medals in women’s 10m air rifle, but she will have to beat Olympic debutant Yi Siling of China, who is the world-ranking leader and 2010 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) world champion.
In the pool, fans will be treated to four finals on the opening night, with the USA’s Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps set to go head-to-head in the men’s 400m individual medley, and medals also up for grabs in the men’s 400m freestyle, the women’s 400m individual medley and the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay.