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Men's 200m PREVIEW

U.S. champion and world leader Shawn Crawford comes to Athens as a prohibitive favourite. The 2001 World Indoor Champion in the event has posted three of the year's four fastest times, including his year-pacing 19.88 and his 19.99 win at the U.S. Trials.

Crawford has raced only once since winning the U.S. Trials, choosing to rest instead. Before the half lap gets underway on August 24, he'll already have run up to four rounds in the short dash, so rest is certainly a good idea.

If the 26-year-old Crawford succeeds in his double dash quest, he will become the first Olympic double winner since Carl Lewis turned the trick two decades ago. Crawford's training partner Justin Gatlin, second at the U.S. trials, is oftentimes perceived as a better half-lap runner, and arrives in Athens as a solid medal threat.

But there are others in the script as well. Usain Bolt, who will celebrate his 18th birthday just three days before competition begins, has been dubbed a medal favorite since his blistering 19.93 World Junior record in early April.

But with a persistent hamstring problem, the young Jamaican has withdrawn from every competition since as a precautionary measure, thus remains untested prior to his first - of what may certainly become many - Olympic appearances. Portugal’s Francis Obikwelu clocked a national record 20.12 for Portugal during his double win in Paris last month, Stéphan Buckland (20.20) of Mauritius was the winner in Rome, and Bernard Williams, the third U.S. entrant, won handily in Zurich.

A sentimental favourite is the ever-popular Frank Fredericks of Namibia, the second-fastest ever over the distance, who will make his 3rd Olympic Games appearance. The 36-year-old, who captured the silver in Atlanta behind Michael Johnson’s world record run, was the winner in Lausanne in 20.21, his season’s best. The 1992 and 1996 double sprint silver medallist has won all of his country’s Olympic medals.