Last updated at 15:07 BST, Thursday, 26 July 2012

Olympic hopefuls

Summary

26 July 2012

The organisers and the athletes are making last minute preparations for the London 2012 Olympics. For many of the competitors this will be the pinnacle of their sporting career. Some will be taking part in the Olympics for the first time while others have become regulars at the event.

Reporter:

Alex Capstick

The Olympic gold medal

Who will take a gold medal home?

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Not everyone has the same profile as Usain Bolt, but there are other Olympic athletes here in London who've gained superstar status, albeit within the confines of their own national boundaries. Take the Ukrainian fencer, Olga Kharlan, who caused a sensation in Beijing by almost single-handedly prising the team gold medal from the Chinese. She was just 18 then, and the former dancer and model is hoping for further success.

Another celebrity in his homeland, but at the opposite end of the age scale, is 71-year-old Hiroshi Hoketsu. The Japanese dressage rider is poised to become the second oldest Olympian of all time. Still fit and lean, he puts his longevity down to an avoidance of oily food.

China topped the medals table four years ago and another strong performance is expected. Their star turn could come in the aquatic centre. Sun Yang is considered the finest distance swimmer in the world. Standing at an imposing two metres tall, he might even eclipse the serial champion Michael Phelps.

Finally to track and field and Caster Semenya, who will be making her Olympic debut. The South African wasn't allowed to celebrate her 800 metres world title in 2009 as doubts over her gender emerged. She said that's now all behind her and if she wins a medal in London will dedicate it to Nelson Mandela who helped her through those tough times.

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Vocabulary

superstar status

extreme popularity

fencer

someone who does fencing (a sport of fighting with swords)

single-handedly

without assistance

dressage rider

person who rides a horse trained to perform a special routine

poised to

ready to, prepared to

longevity

long life

topped

reached the top of

eclipse

do better than

track and field

the sports that include running, jumping and throwing

gender

state of being male or female