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Day-by-day guide to the Olympics

Don't Miss: A T.V. audience of about 1 billion people worldwide is expected to tune in as Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of "Slugdog Millionaire" transforms the London Olympic Stadium into a "green and pleasant land," complete with 120 farm animals, a cricket ground, meadows, rivers, and fake rain clouds. The three-hour ceremony was inspired by William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and will include a musical performance by (who else?) Sir Paul McCartney. More than 10,000 athletes from 200-plus countries will march in the Parade of Nations. The U.S. delegation will be wearing berets and somewhat controversial Made in China suits by Ralph Lauren. As usual, the lighter of the Olympic flame, and method of lighting, remained a closely-guarded secret during the final days of preparation.

Don't Miss: The most-hyped rivalry of these Olympics gets under way in the swimming pool with Americans Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte in the 400-meter individual medley final. Buckle your seat belts!

Other Highlights: The U.S. women's volleyball team play its opening match against South Korea. Plus, three other gold-medal swimming finals-the men's 400 free and women's 400 IM and 400 free relay; unusually colorful first-round tennis matches from Wimbledon (all-white dress code suspended for Olympics); US women's basketball vs. Croatia; men's gymnastics begins; US women's soccer (Abby Wambach, Hope Solo & Co.) vs. Colombia.

Don't Miss: Women's gymnastics gets going, and NBC cameras are sure to focus on Team USA, featuring Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas. This U.S. team is very strong and favored to win gold over Romania and Russia.

Other Highlights: LeBron James and the star-studded U.S. men's basketball team takes on France at 8:30 a.m. EDT. At the pool, four gold-medal finals-the men's 100 breaststroke and 400 free relay and the women's 100 butterfly and 400 free, featuring defending Olympic champ Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain, who is also favored in the 800.

Don't Miss: 17-year-old Missy "The Missile" Franklin, she of the size 13 feet, competes in the 100-meter backstroke final. Last year, at 16, she won five world medals. By the end of these Games, she will have raced in seven events.

Other Highlights: Danell Leyva aims for team gold in men's gymnastics. The U.S. hasn't won men's gymnastics team gold since the Soviet-boycotted 1984 Olympics, and Japan and China will be tough to beat. Huge women's volleyball match between the U.S. and reigning Olympic champion Brazil.

Don't Miss: The pixies are back in the spotlight as Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and the U.S. women's gymnastics team goes for the gold-medal team final. Will there be another Kerri Strug-like dramatic moment? The U.S. is favored after winning the 2011 world title. Stay tuned.

Other Highlights: Another busy day at the pool, including Phelps in the 200 fly and the U.S. team in the men's 800 free relay and Franklin in the women's 200 free, who will battle fellow American Allison Schmitt. The U.S. women's soccer plays North Korea, the U.S. men's volleyball team faces Germany, and the U.S. men's basketball team will be heavily favored over Tunisia.

Don't Miss: Leyva is back in the spotlight as he competes for the men's gymnastics all-around final. The man to beat is Kohei Uchimura of Japan, the three-time world champion, who won silver at the 2008 Beijing Games. Leyva's U.S. teammate, John Orozco, is also a medal contender.

Other Highlights: The telegenic beach volleyball players will get plenty of airtime, as they play on a makeshift beach near Buckingham Palace. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh try to three-peat. The U.S. women's volleyball team has a tough match against China, and the U.S. women's basketball team plays Turkey. Track cycling is sure to get a lot of coverage in England with British star Chris "The Real McCoy" Hoy in action.

Don't Miss: Grab your American flags. Big Day for the U-S-A as Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte go head-to-head in the 200 IM final, and Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas go for gold in the women's all-around gymnastics competition. An American gymnast has won the last two Olympic gold medals. Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina will try to topple the U.S. favorites.

Other Highlights: Singles and doubles quarterfinals in tennis, U.S. men's basketball vs. Nigeria, and the Cycling Team Sprint final, which always makes for exciting television.

Don't Miss: Attention moves to the London Olympic Stadium, where track and field gets going with many, many heats and the women's 10,000 meter final, which is likely to be dominated by African runners.

Other Highlights: Yes, Michael Phelps is back for more, swimming the 100 fly. Same goes for Missy Franklin, competing in the 200 back (her signature event). Earlier in the day, women's soccer and beach volleyball begin elimination rounds.

Don't Miss: The marquee track event tonight is the women's 100-meter final, where Jamaicans Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce battle Americans Carmelita Jeter and Allyson Felix.

Other Highlights: Serena Williams, fresh off her fifth Wimbledon title, could be going for her first Olympic singles gold medal. Think of it as Breakfast at Wimbledon Part II, as the match will be shown live at 9 a.m. Also, the U.S. men's basketball team should get a test against medal hopeful Lithuania. Final night of swimming with men's and women's 400 medley relays. Africans have won every medal since 1988 in the men's 10,000 meter run, but that streak could end today. Mo Farah was born in Somalia, but is competing for host Great Britain and favored over Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia

Don't Miss: The glamour event of the Olympics - the men's 100-meter final - is sure to be spectacular with reigning champion Usain Bolt of Jamaica going up against countryman Yohan Blake and Americans Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay. Don't blink, you might miss it!

Other Highlights: The men's singles tennis final will be shown live at 6 a.m. Can Roger Federer win again on the grass he loves so much? Will Andy Murray finally give British tennis fans a trophy? In women's basketball, the U.S. plays China. The gymnastics apparatus finals continue. Watch for 37-year-old Oksana Chusovitina, born in Uzbekistan and competing for Germany, who could medal in the vault two decades after making her Olympic debut at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Don't Miss: In track, LaShawn Merritt is the man to beat in the 400 meters, where he has won eight of 11 finals since coming off a 21-month drug suspension. But the runner getting the most attention is likely to be Oscar "The Blade Runner" Pistorius of South Africa, a double amputee who is making history by becoming the first amputee runner to compete in the able-bodied Olympics. Some critics claim his springy prosthetic legs give him an advantage, so his inclusion in the London Games has gotten much publicity.

Other Highlights: The U.S. men's basketball team plays its final group stage game vs. Argentina.

Don't Miss: Gymnastics concludes tonight, and Miami's Danell Leyva could medal in his favorite event, the parallel bars. Men's high bar, and women's balance beam and floor exercise are also on the menu. Romania's Larisa Iordache, "The New Nadia", is expected to dazzle on the floor while Aly Raisman is America's best hope.

Other Highlights: Women's basketball quarterfinals, men's soccer semifinals at Wembley and Old Trafford. Brazil has won five World Cups, but never an Olympic gold. This could be the year, with superstar Neymar leading the way.

Don't Miss: Huge night at the track. Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown beat American Allyson Felix for gold at 200 meters in 2004 and 2008, and Felix is determined to turn things around. Sanya Richards-Ross is favored to win the 400. Liu Xiang of China will be the man to watch in the 100-meter hurdles. He was expected to win in Beijing, but pulled out of his first heat.

Other Highlights: Men's basketball quarterfinals, women's beach volleyball gold-medal game. U.S. diver Brittany Viola competes on the platform, and the decathlon gets going with the 400 meter run. American Ashton Eaton is the world record holder, and teammate Trey Hardee is also a medal hopeful.

Don't Miss: The U.S. women's soccer team won the past two Olympics, and is hungry to win a third to avenge the loss to Japan in the 2011 World Cup final. Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, are among the returning players. Japan and Brazil are also strong. The final is being played at Wembley Stadium, making it extra special.

Other Highlights: Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake go at it again in the men's 200 meter run. Blake won at the Jamaican trials. Other track finals include the men's decathlon, where American Ashton Eaton is the gold-medal favorite. Women's basketball semifinal, women's volleyball semifinal, men's water polo gold medal game, and men's beach volleyball final

Don't Miss: The final weekend kicks off with the men's basketball semifinals (U.S., Spain, Lithuania, Argentina, France all contenders) and the women's 400-meter track relay. The U.S. women have botched the baton hand-off in the past two Olympics and are eager to beat Jamaica in this exciting event.

Other Highlights: Chinese diver Qiu Bo earned 25 perfect 10s at a meet in 2011, the highest score ever recorded in platform diving. He goes for gold against Great Britain's beloved Tom Daley.

Don't Miss: Team gold medal games dominate the schedule with the men's soccer final, women's basketball final, and women's volleyball final. The U.S. women's basketball team beat opponents by an average of 37.6 points in Beijing, and appears a lock for the gold medal again. The men's soccer gold-medal favorites are Brazil, Spain and Great Britain (the U.S. did not qualify).

Other Highlights: Track relays - men's 4x100 and women's 4x400 - and the women's 800 final, where Caster Semenya of South Africa hopes to make headlines for her running rather than her gender. Two years ago, she was forced to undergo gender testing after opponents accused her of being too masculine.

Don't Miss: The Olympic men's marathon is always good for some drama. Back in 1908, the first time London hosted the Olympics, the iconic image was of staggering Italian marathoner Dorando Pietri being helped over the finish line by British officials. Pietri entered the stadium first, but collapsed on the track a few times before he was carried to the finish. He was disqualified for receiving aid, and become an international hero.

Other highlights: Men's basketball gold medal game (otherwise known as the NBA All-Star Game), men's volleyball gold medal game, men's water polo gold medal game, wrestling finals in 66 kg and 96 kg. The closing ceremonies will be shown on prime time. The big news there is that the Spice Girls are reuniting for the big occasion! Oh, yes, and good news for teeny bopper girls everywhere-One Direction is expected to perform.