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Olympics athletics action starts

The first day of track events at the London Olympics gets underway today. It promises to be dramatic, with rival sporting heavyweights in several different events vying for gold.

The highly anticipated athletics program at the London Olympics is to get underway on Friday, with the shot put and female sprinting taking center stage.

The big men of the shot put have opened the 10 day athletics program, with contenders hoping to claim the first gold medal for track at the Games. Hopes are high for the USA- on the American squad, Reese Hoffa, Christian Cantwell and Ryan Whiting are all out to win the title.

If successful, it would be a powerful comeback for the Americans. They sought after gold four years ago in Beijing, only for the relatively unknown Pole Tomasz Majewski to snatch the crown. Majewski is in London to defend his title. The German world champion David Storl will also be making a bid for first place.

Battle of the females

Later on in the day, London is set to host a fierce battle of the East Africans in the distance runnning; in the female 10,000 meters final, Vivian Chruiyot of Kenya and and Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba will go head-to-head for gold in what is anticipated to be a thrilling end to the day.

USA's Carmelita Jeter, center, crosses the finish line ahead of Trinidad's Kelly-Ann Baptiste

Jamaica and the USA are historic rivals in the women's 100m event

There will also be eyes on the best of the world's 100m female sprinters today, as the latest chapter in the historic rivalry in the event between the United States and Jamaica gets written; American world champion Carmelita Jeter and Jamaican Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are set for a showdown in the afternoon.

The first four of the seven events of the female heptathlon competition have also begun, with the high jump and the 100m hurdles events already concluded. British hopeful Jessica Ennis clocked the fastest ever time for the 100m event in the heptathlon.

The long-awaited start to the track events at the Olympics coincided with severe delays on London's public transport; the Central Line, the only Tube line that links the center of the city with the Olympic complex, had been partially suspended due to a signal failure. Transport officials advised passengers trying to get to the Olympic Park to use other subway or overground lines or buses.

sej/ (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)

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