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Hicham El Guerrouj

Morocco, 1500m

Had this 22-year-old not stumbled at the bell in Atlanta last year, he - not Noureddine Morceli - might be the Olympic 1500m champion. In February he took 2.98sec off Morceli's indoor record; earlier this month he missed Morceli's mile record of 3min 44.39sec by just 0.51sec. Can Morceli resist any further?

Okkert Brits

South Africa, pole vault

At 23, Brits has looks, charisma and talent. His 6.03 metres effort has put him second on the world's all-time list behind his idol Sergei Bubka - after whom he has named his Staffordshire terrier. He's ready to improve on his fourth place in the 1995 World Championships.

Wilson Kipketer

Denmark, 800m

Having smashed the world indoor record this year, he recently equalled Sebastian Coe's 16-year-old outdoor record of 1min 41.73sec. Coe has forecast that Kipketer might beat the mark more than once in Athens. Barring accident or injury, it will be a case of seeing how far into new territory he can take the event.

Marion Jones

United States, 100m

After finishing fifth in the 1992 US Championships at 16, in a world class time of 11.14sec, Jones left for three years to play basketball, winning the US Collegiate title. Now the powerfully-built 21-year-old has returned to track and field in a big way, and she has strong medal prospects in the 100m and long jump.