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In exactly one month's time, the Olympics in Beijing will finally get going. Which athletes will you be watching, and why?

If you're British, the answer is usually somebody else who's British.

But with almost 300 Brits competing in Beijing, you might struggle to narrow the list down to 10. That's what we've been trying to do in the office, and I bring you the results of the subsequent, incredibly unscientific, straw poll.

If you're not British or bored with national fervour on the back of Wimbledon and Silverstone, read on to see the international athletes we've picked.

BMX star Shanaze Reade (left) and hurdler Dayron Robles

We chose athletes according to a number of factors - for example how likely they are to win gold, how captivating their path to Beijing has been, and the profile of their sport - but it boils down to choosing 10 athletes you think are going to be worth watching above all others, whatever the reason.

Once you've read through our list, tell us which ones you think we've missed out, or who you will be watching, and why. (Finding them attractive is not a good enough reason, so come up with a better excuse for including your Olympic hunk/babe of choice.)

The BBC Sport Olympics office's (preliminary) ten to watch are:
Tom Daley, 14-year-old diving prodigy - he's not a medal favourite but has worked wonders to even reach the Games
Phillips Idowu, the triple jumper with wild hair, facial piercings and a world indoor title to his name
Shanaze Reade, the girl from Crewe who wins most of her BMX races by miles, a gold medal prospect in the sport's Olympic debut
Ben Ainslie, the Cornishman going for a hat-trick of gold medals in Olympic sailing
Christine Ohuruogu, set to run in the 400m having had her Olympic ban (for missing three drugs tests) overturned
Katherine Grainger, the Scot aiming to lead Britain's women to their first ever Olympic rowing gold at her third Games
Liam Tancock, short course world champion in the 100m backstroke and world 50m backstroke record holder
Victoria Pendleton, the track cyclist who bombed at Athens in 2004 but has come back a strong favourite for Beijing
Kelly Sotherton, who won't have to face her two main heptathlon rivals, Carolina Klüft (withdrew) and Jessica Ennis (injured)
Frankie Gavin, the Birmingham southpaw boxer at the head of British boxing's unprecedented eight-man Olympic squad

Bubbling under: Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson in the badminton, cyclist Mark Cavendish, kayaking's Campbell Walsh and many, many more. What about Paula Radcliffe and Dwain Chambers if they make the trip? (Big "ifs", for wildly differing reasons.)

And here is our international selection:
Michael Phelps, the US swimming legend aiming to beat Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in a single Games
Liu Xiang, China's great hope and billed as the (male) Cathy Freeman figure of the 2008 Olympics. The entire country expects gold in the 110m hurdles
Dayron Robles, who smashed the 110m hurdles world record in June. The Cuban stands between Liu Xiang and immortality
Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay, who have traded record 100m times in 2008, and who ought to produce a sub-10 seconds duel that defines the Games
Kobe Bryant, the NBA's most-valuable player heading the latest "dream team" vying to salvage some Olympic pride for US basketball
Yao Ming, at 7'6" literally China's biggest star, and the most recognised Chinese athlete around the world
Roman Sebrle, Czech world record-holding world champion in the decathlon, possibly the world's greatest all-rounder
Natalie Du Toit, the inspirational swimmer whose left leg was amputated after a scooter accident, has qualified to compete in the open water race
Gete Wami, one of the greatest female distance athletes of all time, bidding to win marathon gold
Gro Hammerseng, Norwegian handball captain who plays a part in a campaign for human rights in China

A little closer to the big Olympic kick-off we'll be writing in-depth profiles of athletes that make it into our final ten, so this is your chance to influence who makes it in.

Help us refine the list by telling us who else deserves consideration and why - and don't be afraid to say which athletes in our list ought to lose their places to make way!

Ollie Williams is a BBC Sport journalist. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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