LONDON: Jamaican sprinter and world-record holder Usain Bolt is out to prove that lightning can strike twice Thursday when he tries to defend his 200 meters title, while the United States closed on China at the head of the Olympic medals table.
On the 13th day of competition, Kenyan David Rudisha is favorite in the 800 and world champion Christian Taylor and fellow American Will Claye contest the men's triple jump.
Women's world-record holder Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic will have her eye on another javelin gold while American world-record holder Ashton Eaton is the man to beat in the decathlon.
The U.S. women's soccer team will have revenge on their minds when they take on Japan, the side they lost to in last year's World Cup final, in the final at Wembley.
The match is expected to be watched by 83,000 people, breaking the Olympic record for women's soccer and underlining how popular the Games have been with the British public.
Inspired in part by the home team's 22 gold medals, more than at any Games since 1908, many of the venues have been packed with roaring crowds, and 80,000 people will again cram into the main stadium in the evening hoping to witness history.
Olympic fever has spilled into the Paralympic Games which run in London from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9, with 2.1 million tickets sold so far, surpassing the previous benchmark for the event of 1.8 million in Beijing in 2008.
Bolt goes into the 200 final seeking to become the first man to win the 100 and 200 at two successive Olympics.
Ed Moses, twice 400 hurdles champion, said he believed Bolt was so dominant that it would take a major error or injury to deny him the double.
"If he gets up to speed, there is no stopping him because he can take advantage of the incredible leverage his legs give him," Moses said in an article published in the Daily Telegraph.
Warm temperatures in London could help to reduce the times in the final, although much also depends on the strength and direction of the wind.
The Americans captured seven of the dozen athletics medals available on Wednesday, lifting their haul of golds to 34 to make up ground on China at the top of the medals table.
The Chinese won in women's taekwondo and the men's team table tennis - completing a second successive Olympic clean sweep in that sport - to advance to 36 golds.
On the U.S. team website, the United States stands atop the unofficial ranking based on medals won. Overall they have 81 to China's 77.
On the track on Thursday, Eaton came closer to decathlon gold, although compatriot Trey Hardee was breathing down his neck after seven of the 10 events.
In the 4x400 relay, South African double-amputee Oscar Pistorius was denied the chance to run his team's third leg in qualifying when second-leg runner Ofentse Mogawane collided with Kenya's Vincent Mumo Kiilu, sending both men crashing to the ground.
South Africa were given a place in the final on appeal.
Jamaica failed to qualify in the event after Jermaine Gonzales pulled up injured midway through his leg.
After Australia's slow start to the Games, their recovery continued on Thursday with gold in the men's K4 1,000 metres canoeing final on Dorney Lake outside London.
Other medal winners on the water included Hungary's Danuta Kozak, who added the K1 500 title to her medals cabinet, while German Peter Kretschmer and Kurt Kuschela snatched victory in the men's canoe double 1,000.
The German women added to their country's tally with a win in the women's K2 500 meters, denying their fierce rivals Hungary a third successive Olympic title in the discipline.
In the boxing ring, where women are competing at the Olympics for the first time, Ireland's Katie Taylor beat Tajik Mavzuna Chorieva to set up a lightweight final on Thursday against Russia's Sofya Ochigava.
In the middleweight final, 17-year-old Claressa Shields of the U.S. will face another Russian, Nadezhda Torlopova, who at 33 is nearly twice her age.
Home hopes rest with Nicola Adams, who could become the first woman to win Olympic boxing gold when she fights three-time Chinese world champion Ren Cancan in the fly.
Belgian track cyclist Gijs Van Hoecke was sent home from the Games after photographs appeared in British newspapers of him apparently drunk and being carried into a taxi after a night out in London.
In a doping case dating back to 2004, American time-trial cyclist Tyler Hamilton will officially be stripped of his Athens Olympic gold medal on Friday after he admitted to doping, a source at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said.
Retired Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov will move up to gold.
Attention began to turn to Sunday's Olympic closing ceremony which will be titled "A Symphony of British Music" and feature a host of pop stars and some 4,000 local volunteers.
Music director David Arnold, who has devoted much of the last two years to the final act of the London 2012 Games, said he wanted it to be "the greatest after-party in the world".
"It's a big 'arms around the world' event, where we are going to be asking people to get involved," he told the Telegraph.
George Michael, Ed Sheeran and Muse are among the acts who have leaked their participation ahead of time, and the music press is swirling with rumors that everyone from The Who to The Spice Girls and Adele could join them.