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A guide to the competition ahead

Day 1: Saturday 28 July

Gold medals to be won 12

Highlights The Games get under way in a frenzy, 19 of the 26 sporting disciplines are in action, and for the hosts there will be fingers crossed for that all-important early medal rush. Mark Cavendish, the only British man to miss out on a cycling medal four years ago, should come haring down The Mall sometime around 4pm – the Manxman is a strong favourite to win road race gold and Britain's first of the Games. The very first gold of London 2012 will be secured in less spectacular fashion, and it will almost certainly go to China in the 10m air pistol at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. There will be drama in the pool for the first finals night as Michael Phelps chases the first of his seven golds.

Brit watch Cavendish apart, home medal hopes will be centred on the pool. Hannah Miley has a good chance of winning in the 400m individual medley, while the women's freestyle relay team may also squeeze on to the podium. The women's football team play Cameroon in Cardiff.

Picks of the day

Men's road race 10-16.15

Swimming finals 19.30-21.15

Women's football GB v Cameroon 17.15

Day 2: Sunday 29 July

Gold medals to be won 14

Highlights There is the potential for this to become a red, white and blue day. But first one of the Games' greats is back in the pool. MICHAEL PHELPS took eight golds in Beijing but has lowered his sights – everything's relative – in London to seven. But the Baltimore Bullet's hopes of making his target will be tested by compatriot RYAN LOCHTE – don't miss the all-American duel in the pool. Britain's main swimming hope REBECCA ADLINGTON goes in her weaker event, the 400m freestyle, while FRAN HALSALL also has freestyle medal chances. Back on land the women's road race went Britain's way four years ago and could again.

Brit watch The rowers are in full swing at Eton Dornay – a sport in which Britain will excel – the men's football team play the United Arab Emirates in front of a full house at Wembley and the women's hockey team, strong medal contenders, begin against Japan.

Picks of the day

Swimming finals 19.30-21.25

Men's football, GB v UAE, 19.45

Women's hockey, GB v Japan, 19.00

Day 3: Monday 30 July

Gold medals to be won 12

Highlights Events beneath the stunning, wave-shaped roof of the Aquatics Centre dominate the first few days of the Games and tonight is no exception. It will be Lochte's bid to claim his seven golds (if it is still on track) that will be the focus. Phelps made the surprise decision not to defend his 200m free title (he has a rare night off), but Lochte will still find this tough to win – look out for France's YANNICK AGNEL. South of the river in the North Greenwich Arena, the men's gymnastics team event will provide some of the most breathtaking images – and there might even be a surprise British medal. Japan, led by the brilliant KOHEI UCHIMURA, are favourites.

Brit watch TOM DALEY and PETE WATERFIELD look to spring a surprise on the all-conquering Chinese in the 10m synchronised event and pull off a gold that would be one of the most popular British wins. They should at least make the podium.

Picks of the day

Swimming finals 19.30-21.15

Diving, 10m synchro final, 15.00

Gymnastics, men's team final, 16.00

Day 4: Tuesday 31 July

Gold medals to be won 15

Highlights MICHAEL PHELPS is back in action. Add eight golds from Beijing to six from Athens and remember he is still only 27. Tonight is perhaps his signature event, the 200m fly. He will then be back in the pool minutes later when the US go for relay gold. FRAN HALSALL and HANNAH MILEY both hold hopes of home medals tonight. In Greenwich, crowds will cheer on Britain's eventers in the team and individual competitions. In gymnastics a highly-rated young American team are looking to reclaim the women's team event.

Brit watch The best of the women's football qualifiers sees Britain take on Brazil in front of a full house at Wembley. The women's hockey team take on Korea, while DAVID FLORENCE is a medal prospect in the slalom canoeing and EUAN BURTON chases Britain's first judo medal for 12 years.

Picks of the day

Swimming finals, 19.30-21.20

Equestrian, team and individual eventing finals, 10.30-16.15

Gymnastics women's team final, 16.30-18.45

Day 5: Wednesday 1 August

Gold medals to be won 20

Highlights It's getting busy and it could be a busy day for Team GB too. The first rowing medals are settled at Eton Dornay with the men's eight high on Britain's list of targets. Among the eight will be 40-year-old GREG SEARLE looking for a second Olympic gold 20 years after his first. In the women's pair, HELEN GLOVER and heather stanning have an excellent chance of becoming the first British female crew to win gold. In the pool the Missile is launched in the 100m free – Australia's big hope, JAMES MAGNUSSEN, faces a top clash with the Brazilian CESAR CIELO.

Brit watch The men's and women's time trials at Hampton Court offer strong gold hopes via BRADLEY WIGGINS and co. The men's footballers face Uruguay at Wembley, while the canoeists could bring more sitting down success for Team GB at Lee Valley.

Picks of the day

Rowing finals 09.30-13.10

Cycling time trials 12.30-16.25

Swimming finals 19.30-21.35

Day 6: Thursday 2 August

Gold medals to be won 18

Highlights First night of action in the Velodrome. The test event gave a taste of what is likely to be a raucous atmosphere and a succession of British medals. But it is a tough start for Britain's riders with the men's and women's team sprints. Both are capable of gold but both finished outside the medals at the world championships earlier this year. There are three more golds to be won at the rowing at Eton Dornay, with Britain's lightweight fours the dark horses of the day. The women's gymnastic all-round title is settled.

Brit watch FRAN HALSALL has an outside chance of earning five medals in the pool. Tonight's her best chance in the 100m free. DAVID FLORENCE and RICHARD HOUNSLOW harbour golden ambitions in the canoe slalom two-man event.

Picks of the day

Cycling track 16.00-18.30

Gymnastics, women's all-round 16.30-18.40

Swimming finals 19.30-21.05

Day 7: Friday 3 August

Gold medals to be won 22

Highlights One of the busiest days of the Games – frantic Friday sees 24 of the 26 sports in action from the sailing in Weymouth to women's quarter-final football in Glasgow to all the Olympic sites across London. The athletics begins with JESSICA ENNIS starting her heptathlon campaign, but the main home focus will be in the pool where REBECCA ADLINGTON defends her 800m title. The team pursuit is the best of the action in the Velodrome while at Wimbledon it's semi-final day for the men and women. For a change of pace try the men's trampolining.

Brit watch At Eton Dornay it's the penultimate day of rowing finals with KATHERINE GRANINGER – in partnership with ANNA WATKINS – Britain's big hope of gold after three successive silver medals. The men's hockey team play Pakistan, while CHRIS ADCOCK and  IMOGEN BANKIER will hope to be in the badminton mixed doubles final.

Picks of the day

Cycling track 16.00-18.55

Swimming finals 19.30-20.50

Athletics 19.00-21.55

Day 8: Saturday 4 August

Gold medals to be won 25

Highlights The middle weekend of the Games begins with Super Saturday – organisers have packed both weekends with the biggest events. A huge number of medals are up for grabs – only the final Saturday has more on offer. The stadium will attract most attention with two of Britain's greatest hopes in action – Ennis looks to complete her golden campaign in the heptathlon while MO FARAH goes in the 10,000m. There's also the women's 100m final – and USAIN BOLT is in morning action in the men's heats. It's the final day of rowing at Eton Dornay with the coxless four – long Britain's flagship boat – going for gold, while it's also the last night in the pool, men's quarter-final football and the women's tennis final.

Brit watch LAURA TROTT will go for gold in the velodrome as part of the team pursuit – the women's trio are strong favourites as world champions and world record holders. HELEN JENKINS is the current triathlon world champion and the Welsh woman could set up a British men's and women's double in Hyde Park.

Picks of the day

Triathlon, women 09.00-11.40

Rowing 09.30-13.10

Athletics 10.00-13.45 & 19.00-21.55

Day 9: Sunday 5 August

Gold medals to be won 23

Highlights The presence of the fastest man ever to set foot on earth would have been enough but now that USAIN BOLT has a genuine challenger in YOHAN BLAKE the 100m final promises to be a race like no other. Local interest, real local interest, will centre on CHRISTINE OHURUOGU as the Stratford-born runner defends her 400m title. She has never been favourite to win any of her major races and so by that measure expect her to be back on top of the podium. There is unlikely to be a fairytale finish to PAULA RADCLIFFE'S career in the women's marathon but another British veteran will expect to win gold today – BEN AINSLIE goes for Olympic title number four on the familiar waters of Weymouth harbour. Women's boxing makes its Olympics bow, the men's tennis is settled and there is more action in the velodrome.

Brit watch Britain has never won a gymnastics gold – tonight LOUIS SMITH has the chance to change that in the pommel horse finals. Britain's men's hockey team play Australia in a key group stage game.

Picks of the day

Tennis 12.00-20.30

Gymnastics 14.00-16.30

Athletics 18.50-21.35

Day 10: Monday 6 August

Gold medals to be won 18

Highlights An intense evening beckons in the Velodrome. SIR CHRIS HOY does not get to go for gold again in the men's sprint. The Scot, who won the first of his four Olympic golds eight years ago, has lost his place in the event to the Bolton bullet JASON KENNY. But Kenny will have a real battle on his hands for gold against the flying Frenchman, GREGORY BAUGE, who is the current world champion. In the stadium the men's 400m and 400m hurdles – featuring podium prospect DAI GREENE – are the main events of the night. Outside London, the sailing medal races continue in Weymouth and Old Trafford hosts one of the women's football semi-finals (the other is at Wembley).

Brit watch At the sailing PAUL GOODISON is chasing a second Olympic gold in the laser class after winning in Beijing. BETH TWEDDLE, the grand dame of British gymnastics at 27, will look to finish her career on a high in the uneven bars by adding an Olympic medal to her world honours. There is likely to be British interest in the team showjumping.

Picks of the day

Cycling, track 16.00-18.55

Equestrian 14.00-17.15

Athletics 18.50-21.20

Day 11: Tuesday 7 August

Gold medals to be won 21

Highlights There's no doubt where Sebastian Coe will be tonight – it's the 1500m final. But for the best action of the day look to the Velodrome where LAURA TROTT could be crowned one of the brightest young stars of the Games with a second potential gold in the omnium. It's the final night in one of the Park's signature venues and VICTORIA PENDLETON will look to provide a grandstand finish in the women's sprint. It's not the greatest night of athletics – but ROBBIE GRABARZ could turn it into one for the hosts if he produces a shock win in the high jump. ALISTAIR BROWNLEE and his brother JONNY are after a one/two in the triathlon – Alistair is favourite and Jonny in the form of his life. The men's football semi-finals take place at Wembley and Old Trafford.

Brit watch The dressage finals in Greenwich offer an excellent chance of British success while there may be the rare chance to catch British synchronised swimmers in Olympic action. JENNA RANDALL and OLIVIA ALLISON have made huge progress in recent years and a place in the final is not beyond them.

Picks of the day

Triathlon 11.30-16.00

Cycling, track 16.00-18.30

Football, men's semi-finals 17.00-18.45

Day 12: Wednesday 8 August

Gold medals to be won 16

Highlights One of the great Olympic events, the decathlon, gets under way in the morning with three events, starting with the 100m – there are two more in the evening. It is likely to prove another Herculean American struggle for gold between TREY HARDEE and ASHTON EATON. USAIN BOLT, YOHAN BLAKE and co will be back for a brief appearance in the 200m semi-finals. The big final of the night is the men's 110m hurdles with DAYRON ROBLES and the flaky LIU XIANG the athletes to watch. The women's 200m final will be another US v Jamaica sprint-off. The women's beach volleyball final – one of the latest finishing events of the Games – will be unlike anything seen before at Horse Guards Parade. The women's hockey reaches the semi-final stage – Britain are ranked four in the world so would expect to be involved.

Brit watch Britain has high hopes of its men's and women's boxers – it's semi-final day for the women, quarters for the men. TIM BRABANTS will defend his C1 sprint canoe title at Eton Dornay

Picks of the day

Athletics 10.00-13.40 & 18.00-21.55

Boxing, women semi finals 13.30-15.00

Beach volleyball 19.00-22.30

Day 13: Thursday 9 August

Gold medals to be won 23

Highlights A potentially fantastic night in the Olympic Stadium. USAIN BOLT defends his 200m title – he has run the distance only once ahead of the Games and that, in the Jamaican trials, saw him come second to YOHAN BLAKE. Meanwhile, British triple-jumper PHILLIPS IDOWU has long been seen as one of the host nation's bankers in track and field but there have been increasing fears over his fitness and lack of competition as the Games have approached – will tonight be his night? The decathlon is settled in the evening session with the torture that is the 1500m. The women's football final is expected to fill Wembley; rather fewer will take in the women's water polo final but those that do will be rewarded by a vicious, full-blooded sport in which competitors are known to give each other wedgies. Likewise the women's wrestling finals are not for the faint hearted.

Brit watch KERI-ANNE PAYNE was the first name on the Team GB team-sheet after she qualified by winning the open-water swimming at the world championships last year – she is a strong favourite to win gold in the Serpentine.

Picks of the day

Swimming, women's open water 12.00-15.00

Athletics 18.30-22.10

Football, women's final 19.45

Day 14: Friday 10 August

Gold medals to be won 16

Highlights The focus will leap from venue to venue around the Olympic Park and beyond this evening. In the stadium it's the thrills and spills (if Britain are involved) of the relays plus the women's 1500m and 5,000m. The BMX will be spectacular with the winner almost impossible to predict such is the propensity for crashes, pile-ups and injury – SHANAZE READE was the favourite in Beijing but crashed painfully out. She is determined to make amends on home soil. Fingers crossed. The women's hockey medals are settled, while the men's basketball crosses the Thames for semi-final night in the North Greenwich arena.

Brit watch SARAH STEVENSON bids to add Olympic gold to her world taekwondo title. It would be a popular triumph; both her parents died of cancer last year and Stevenson has overcome serious injury to make the Games. There will also be plenty of interest in LUTALO MUHAMMAD – the fighter controversially chosen ahead of world No 1 Aaron Cook. Cook would have been a contender for gold – can Muhammad justify his selection? He is under pressure to claim a medal.

Picks of the day

BMX 15.00-17.20

Hockey, women's final 20.00

20.00-23.15

Day 15: Saturday 11 August

Gold medals to be won 32

Highlights Golden Saturday – the busiest medal day of the Games. Action in the stadium – barring tomorrow's closing ceremony – is wrapped up with five finals to be settled. The pick is the 4x100m relay – can anyone stop the Jamaicans? Will it be a third gold for USAIN BOLT? Or even a treble for YOHAN BLAKE? The home focus among the 80,000 spectators will be on MO FARAH, who will be hoping to complete a roof-raising double gold Games in the 5,000m. There are finals for women's basketball – odds favour a US v Australia clash – women's handball (a high-speed sport well worth watching) and the men's hockey. Wembley hosts the men's football final at the old-fashioned Saturday kick-off time of 3pm.

Brit watch TOM DALEY goes in the 10m platform – a medal is well within his reach given his form in the build-up but he will have to produce the dive of his life to beat BO, China's overwhelming favourite, to the gold. There is also likely to be British interest in the first slew of boxing finals.

Picks of the day

Football, men's final 15.00

Athletics 18.45-21.25

Diving 20.30-22.10

Day 16: Sunday 12 August

Gold medals to be won 15

Highlights The last medal of the Games will come in Greenwich when a long day for the modern pentathletes is settled around 6pm – there is a good chance it could provide Britain's last medal of the Games too. MHAIRI SPENCE is the current world champion and while it is an entertainingly unpredictable sport – the riding element is something of a lottery as athletes select a horse at random from a central pool – she would expect to finish on the podium. The event of the day (excluding the closing ceremony) will come in the North Greenwich arena where the US will expect to win the men's basketball final. Other events to be wrapped up usually inspire little interest among a British audience: handball, volleyball, water-polo and wrestling. The men's marathon is more noteworthy although similarly Britless come the sharp end of the race past Buckingham Palace and down The Mall.

Brit watch There will though be an expectation of British medals in the last of the boxing finals, including ANTHONY JOSHUA in the super-heavyweight division.

Picks of the day

Boxing 13.30-16.00

Basketball 15.00-17.30

Closing ceremony, starts 19.00

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