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(Reuters) – The big men of the shot put open 10 days of athletics action at the London Olympics on Friday morning with the more slender frames of the East African distance runners closing out the day in the much-anticipated women’s 10,000 metres final.
Distance queens Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba will go head-to-head for the second gold medal in athletics in what is expected to be a thrilling final at the Olympic Stadium.
Dibaba won the 5,000-10,000m double at the Beijing Olympics before taking a couple of years off but looked back at her best when her fearsome finish drove her to the fastest time of the year in Oregon in June.
Cheruiyot matched Dibaba’s double at the world championships last year and she and Sally Kipyego, who is also running both races in London, are gunning for Kenya’s first Olympic gold medal in the event.
Jamaica and the United States will renew their rivalry in the women’s sprints in London with Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and world champion Carmelita Jeter spearheading their respective bids for the 100m title.
The top women will have the morning off, however, with the preliminary round sorting out the also-rans before the big names get going in the first round of heats in the afternoon.
Britain’s Jessica Ennis will be looking to the home crowd to give her a boost as she begins her quest for heptathlon gold in the first four of the seven events.
The former world champion should get a good start in the 100m hurdles and is expected to fight for the title with Ukraine’s defending Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska and Beijing bronze medallist Russian Tatyana Chernova.
The first gold medal of the Games will be won by a shotputter and Reese Hoffa, Christian Cantwell and Ryan Whiting are all out to win the title back for the United States.
The Americans also went to Beijing four years ago with high hopes of gold only for relative unknown Pole Tomasz Majewski to steal their thunder.
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Germany’s world champion David Storl should also be in the frame, while Majewski returns to defend his title. (Editing by Patrick Johnston)