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MISTY MAY KERRI WALSH AGE 27 (May), 25 (Walsh) HOMETOWN Long Beach, Calif. (May); Redondo Beach, Calif. (Walsh) EVENT Beach volleyball THE DRAMA They're the top-ranked duo in this two-person game, but May recently suffered an abdominal strain. Walsh says they'll play anyway. THE COMPETITION Beach volleyball was a sensation in Sydney. This year Americans Holly McPeak (May's ex-partner) and Elaine Youngs, as well as second-ranked Brazilians Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede, are primed to capitalize on any openings May-Walsh may leave.
CARLY PATTERSON AGE 16 HOMETOWN Baton Rouge, La. EVENT Gymnastics THE DRAMA The world's No. 2 in the all-around competition, she risks the most difficult dismount from the balance beam of any competitor: a round off back handspring double Arabian. THE COMPETITION It's formidable but not invincible. In the team contest, the U.S. must vault past the solid Romanian and Chinese squads. For the individual all-around title, Patterson faces three-time world champion Svetlana Khorkina of Russia and newcomer Daniela Sofronie of Romania.
PATRICIA MIRANDA TELA O'DONNELL AGES 25 (Miranda), 22 (O'Donnell) HOMETOWNS Saratoga, Calif. (Miranda); Homer, Alaska (O'Donnell) EVENT Women's wrestling THE DRAMA The event is making its Olympic debut--a victory in itself. Miranda's dad begged her not to wrestle. Sorry, Pop, the kid's good. THE COMPETITION Two Japanese sisters, Chiharu and Kaori Icho, are medal favorites.
MIA HAMM AGE 32 HOMETOWN Austin, Texas EVENT Soccer THE DRAMA The greatest women's player ever, probably competing in her last Olympics, wants to avenge her team's shattering overtime loss to Norway in the 2000 gold-medal game. THE COMPETITION Germany and Sweden finished 1-2 at the 2003 World Cup.
MARION JONES AGE 28 HOMETOWN Los Angeles EVENT Long jump THE DRAMA In 2000, "Super Marion" aimed for five gold medals and won three. Giving birth last year and then becoming embroiled in doping allegations depleted her physically and emotionally; she failed to qualify in the 100 m and 200 m, events she won in Sydney. A slot could open for her in the 100--if a teammate is disqualified for doping. THE COMPETITION Jones' long-jump mark at the trials was her best in six years (she won bronze in 2000). Two Russians, Irina Simagina and Anna Pyatykh, will try to keep her from gold.