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Olympic Viewing Guide: Dara Torres' Medal Quest for the Ages

July 1: Ageless at 45, Torres competes in the 50m freestyle.

By Colin Bertram
|  Sunday, Jul 1, 2012  |  Updated 2:32 PM EDT
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Olympic Fashion Through the Ages

AP

Jordyn Wieber, seen here pushing off the vault during the preliminary round of the women's Olympic gymnastics trials, is hoping to make the Games at 16. In swimming, SoCal native Dara Torres is trying to make the team at 45.

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The major U.S. Olympic trials are under way through July 2 in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Live coverage of many events can be found on the NBC Sports Network, and selected videos will appear on NBCOlympics.com. Here's what you should watch Sunday, July 1:

The event: Swimming: women's 50m free (semifinal); women's 200m back, 800m free (final); men's 100m fly, men's 50m free (finals).

When: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network and 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET, July 1, NBC.

Where: CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

One to watch: At 45, 12-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres continues to prove that age does not have to be a factor in elite competition swimming. If Torres makes it through today's 50m rounds and then finishes in either first or second place in the final, she'll become the first American swimmer to make 6 Olympic teams.

Four years ago in Beijing, Torres won three silver medals and was then the eldest member of the U.S. Olympic swimming team. Since the 2008 Games, Torres has undergone shoulder surgery to alleviate osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint disease) and also had radical knee surgery to reconstruct another joint and grow new cartilage.

Recovery was arduous, the single mother of a 6-year-old daughter tells Sporting News, but adds she’s now in the best shape of her life, fitter and more flexible than she was 20 years ago. Torres has no illusions, though, about her age or her teammates. “I’m middle age and I have middle age pains and aches like everyone. My hormones are dropping and it takes me longer to recover,” she says. “I envy the younger kids, the way they can bounce back from a hard training and eat anything and then train hard again. There are days when I need a nap, I’m so tired. But this is something I want to do it until my body tells me it absolutely can’t take anymore.”

What happens: The fastest two swimmers in each individual event earn a place on the U.S. Olympic team bound for London.

Read more about the Olympic swimming trials and events

 

The event: Track & Field: women's 400m, 1,500m and men's 400m hurdles, 1,500m, and 200m (finals).

When: 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET, July 1, NBC.

Where: TrackTown USA in Eugene, Ore.

Ones to watch: It's day 10 of the U.S. Olympic Track & Field team trials - the final day of competition.

Jeshua Anderson grabbed the second fastest 400m hurdles time in the world in 2011. Now 22, this graduate of Washington State aims to challenge two-time Olympic champion Angelo Taylor and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Bershawn Jackson today for a coveted berth on team U.S.A. And he'll be mounting that challenge on the very track that he won a National Championship..

"Man it'd mean a lot to me, especially putting that Team USA on my chest, representing my country. I've been feeling good running well... go out and make that team," Anderson told Washington station KXLY of his London aspirations. And if he does become an Olympian bound for the 2012 Summer Games, his goal is simple: "Any medal will do, but the gold medal is preferred."

What happens: The top three athletes in the men's 400m hurdles will qualify to make the Olympic team and journey to London.

Read more about the Olympic track & field events.

 

The event: Gymnastics: women's final.

When: 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, July 1, NBC.

Where: HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

Ones to watch: Gabby Douglas, 16, is set to give trail favorite Jordyn Wieber a run (or should that be jump?) for the top spot at the women's gymnastic trials today. If Douglas makes the five-woman Olympic team, she will be the first African American appointed since Dominique Dawes in 2000. And if she makes the podium in London, she would be the first African American woman in history to win an individual Olympic medal.

While Wieber is know for her power and consistency in events, Douglas brings a flair that's all her own. Her lightness and agility while in the air led national team director Martha Karolyi to nickname her the "flying squirrel." It's a moniker Douglas - who left her family in Virginia Beach at age 14 to move to to Des Moines, Iowa, to train - has adopted with pleasure. "I took that name in," she told the Mercury News. "I love people calling me the squirrel." Her mom Natalie Hawkins has even had team Gabby t-shirts made with what else, a squirrel on the back.

What happens: Five men and five women will be chosen to represent the United States in men's and women's gymnastics at the 2012 Olympic Games. For the men, two athletes will be identified following the conclusion of the second day of competition, with the remaining members announced July 1 in conjunction with the women's final session.

For women, the individual all-around champion at the conclusion of two days of competition at the trials will automatically make the Olympic Team. The remaining four athletes will be determined by the selection committee and announced on July 1.

Read more about the Olympic gymnastic trials and events.

For broadcast information, visit NBC 's Olympic website and click on "TV Listings" for your local listings.

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