The United States has never won a field hockey medal outside of Los Angeles, where the men won the bronze in 1932 and the women in '84. Neither team qualified for Barcelona, but both received automatic berths as the host country this time.
The American women hardly needed the leg up. They are ranked third in the world with an experienced team that includes four 1988 Olympians--Tracey Fuchs, Barb Marois, Marcia Pankratz and Patty Shea. Australia and Argentina are the top contenders, and South Korea, which is billed as the fastest team in the world, could be a spoiler.
Germany won the men's gold in 1992, followed by Australia and Pakistan, which won the most recent world championship. The U.S. men, led by Larry Amar and Marq Mellor, face a tough draw, competing in a pool with Pakistan, Germany and India, a somewhat diminished but still daunting power.
India still owns one of the most impressive streaks in Olympic history. From 1928 through 1956, India won six gold medals and 30 consecutive games, outscoring its opponents, 197-8.
Georgia World Congress Center
The word judo in Japanese means gentleness, which doesn't seem to fit with such techniques as Shime-waza (strangulation), Tomoe-nage (whirl throw) or Tani-otoshi (Valley drop throw).
Heavyweights tend to be in the 300-pound range, but one of Japan's darlings is Ryoko Tamura, who won the 1992 silver in the 106-pound division at the age of 16. The pink hair ribbon she wears in imitation of a Japanese comic book character is her good-luck charm--and since she won 73 consecutive matches after the Olympic final, who's to argue?
The Japanese dominate the sport, but American half-middleweight Jason Morris claimed a silver in 1992, only the seventh U.S. judo medal ever. Lightweight James Pedro could win the next.
Middleweight Liliko Ogasawara and extra-lightweight Hillary Wolf are among the best U.S. women (Wolf also has gained notice for acting in the "Home Alone" movies). The most acclaimed of the women competitors, though, is Israel's Yael Arad, who in 1992 won her country's first Olympic medal, dedicating the silver to the Israeli athletes killed in Munich in 1972.
Wolf Creek Shooting Complex (Shooting), Georgia World Congress Center (Fencing), Georgia Tech Aquatic Center (Swimming), Georgia International Horse Park, Conyers, Ga. (Riding, Running).
First off, of course, there is nothing modern about it. Unless you consider the frantic pace competitors will undertake as the competition--which once covered five days--is squeezed into a single day. Merely reaching all the venues could be challenging for the athletes--much less shooting, fencing, swimming, riding horseback and running their way to the gold during a 12-hour stretch.
With only about 5,000 participants worldwide and a decidedly oddball reputation--a mere triathlon somehow seems more dignified, involving neither guns nor swords--modern pentathlon will have to struggle to maintain its place in the Olympics, much as synchronized swimming will.
The top-ranked American is Michael Gostigian, who has won four national titles in a row and was ninth in Barcelona, where the United States finished fourth.
Dmitri Svatkovsky of Russia is the favorite.
Lake Lanier, Gainesville, Ga.
Their prowess is little known outside rowing circles, but the U.S. women's eight has an air of dominance. Not only the prohibitive gold-medal favorite, the U.S. women have a chance to break the six-minute barrier in the 3,000-meter race. (Canada won the gold in 6:02.62 in 1992.)
Led by Betsy McCagg--whose 6-foot-2 identical twin, Mary, is also on the squad--the women are coached by Hartmut Buschbacher, who guided the East German crew to gold in 1988.
In the single sculls, Canada's Silken Laumann returns after her dramatic bronze medal in 1992. Laumann suffered terrible leg injuries only two months before the Barcelona Games when she was rammed by another boat in a warmup area. Doctors told the gold-medal favorite she would need six months to recover, but after five operations, she made it to Barcelona walking with a cane, and finished third even though she couldn't stand for long period.
Thomas Lange of Germany has won the last two men's single scull titles, but Itzok Cop of Slovenia could provide stiff competition.
Another distinguished oarsman is Great Britain's Steven Redgrave, who will team with Matthew Pinsent to defend the gold in coxless pairs. Should Redgrave win another, it will mark the fourth consecutive Olympics he has won a gold medal.
Wolf Creek Shooting Complex
This, interestingly, is a sport dominated by Americans.
The United States has won more shooting medals than any other country, and only American swimmers and track and field stars have won more golds for the United States than shooters.