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London releases 2012 Olympic competition schedule

LONDON AP) — Mark your calendars now.

The date: Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012.

The time: 9:55 p.m.

That's when the starting pistol will go off for perhaps the most eagerly anticipated event of the London Olympics — the men's 100-meter final.

Barring injury or an upset, Usain Bolt will be going for his second consecutive gold medal in the marquee race — and possibly another world record — in front of 80,000 fans on a summer evening at London's Olympic Stadium.

In less than 10 seconds, Bolt — or will it be American rival Tyson Gay, Jamaican teammate Asafa Powell or another sprinter? — will grab one of the most coveted prizes in sports.

London organizers released the full sports competition schedule for the Olympics on Tuesday, exactly one month before the first batch of 8.8 million tickets go on sale.

The games will run from July 27 to Aug. 12, with 19 days of competition featuring 302 medal events in 26 sports. There will be 631 sessions, 62 more than in Beijing in 2008.

"This is a really big moment, a huge moment," said London organizing committee head Sebastian Coe, a former two-time 1,500-meter Olympic champion. "In this project, every day you get closer, every day it becomes more of a living creature. In my own experience as a competitor, this is the point that it suddenly becomes very real."

Among the main changes, the swimming finals will revert to the evenings after having been held in the morning in Beijing to satisfy prime time television viewing in the United States.

Women's boxing and mixed doubles in tennis are on the program for the first time, and an extra day of competition has been added to canoe slalom, BMX cycling, track cycling, shooting and table tennis.

The cheapest tickets will go for 20 pounds ($32), while the best seats for the 100-meter final will cost 725 pounds ($1,160). Already, 2.2 million people have registered interest in buying tickets.

"This is the greatest show on earth and these will be the greatest tickets on earth," Coe said.

There will also be free events, including road cycling, triathlon and the marathon, all taking place in the streets of London.

The track and field competition will run Aug. 3-12.

The men's 100 heats are on the morning of Aug. 4, with the semifinals and finals the next evening.

"There is a recognition now that the men's 100 is a pretty serious moment and we have planned that to be fairly early on the evening of that Sunday," Coe said. "The things people remember are head-to-heads and we could potentially have one of the best, given that Tyson Gay is going to make this a really tough run for Usain Bolt."

If Bolt wins the 100, he'll have a chance to replicate his Beijing sprint double in the 200 final on the evening of Aug. 9.

The women's 100-meter final is on the evening of Aug. 4. That will come just after the men's 10,000 final, which could feature Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele going for a third straight gold medal. British fans will be hoping to see current world and European champion Jessica Ennis going for gold in the final event of the heptathlon, the 800 meters.

The relays will be held during the evening sessions on Aug. 10-11. The women's 800-meter final on Aug. 11 is the last individual track event on the schedule, and could include South Africa's Caster Semenya seeking to match her gold from the 2009 world championships.

The busiest day of the Olympics will be the middle Saturday, Aug. 4, with swimming and track and field overlapping.

The first event of the games will actually take place 150 miles away from London — a women's preliminary-round soccer match at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, on July 25, two days before the opening ceremony. Two other matches will be played that day in Coventry and Glasgow.

Apart from soccer, the first sports action will come in archery at Lord's cricket ground on July 27, just hours before the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in east London.

The first medals will be awarded the next morning in the men's and women's air pistol and air rifle shooting events. The men's cycling road race will finish on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace later in the day.

The first women's boxing finals in Olympic history will take place on the evening of Aug. 9.

In gymnastics, the women's all-around final will be contested on Aug. 2. The women's singles final in tennis will be played on the grass at Wimbledon on Aug. 4, followed by the men's gold medal match the next day.

In swimming, the men's 200 freestyle final on July 30 could feature Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and perhaps Ian Thorpe, the former Australian star who is making a comeback. A day earlier in the men's 400 freestyle relay, France could be seeking to avenge its close defeat to the Americans in Beijing.

The final weekend of the games will feature gold medals in volleyball, basketball, water polo, modern pentathlon, field hockey, handball, sailing, gymnastics, football, diving, mountain biking, canoe sprint, boxing, archery, track and field and men's marathon.

Applications for Olympic tickets open on March 15 on the official London 2012 website for people who over 16 years of age and are residents of the U.K. or designed European countries. Overseas fans must apply through their national Olympic committees.

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www.tickets.london2012.com