Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates after winning his men's 200m semi-final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 8, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
Jamaican sprinter and world record holder Usain Bolt is out to prove that lightning can strike twice on Thursday when he tries to defend his 200 meters title, while the United States closed onChina at the head of the Olympics medals table.
On the 13th day of competition, Kenyan David Rudisha is favorite in the 800 and world champion Christian Taylor and fellow American Will Claye contest the men's triple jump.
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Women's world record holder Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic will have her eye on another javelin gold while American world record holder Ashton Eaton is the man to beat in the decathlon.
The U.S. women's soccer team will have revenge on their minds when they take on Japan, the side they lost to in last year's World Cup final, in the final at Wembley.
The match is expected to be watched by around 83,000 people, breaking the previous Olympic record for women's soccer and underlining how popular the Games have been with the British public.
Inspired in part by the home team's 22 gold medals, more than at any Games since 1908, many of the main venues have been packed with roaring crowds, and 80,000 people will again cram into the main stadium in the evening hoping to witness history.
Olympic fever has spilled into the Paralympic Games which run in London from August 29 to September 9, with 2.1 million tickets sold so far, surpassing the previous benchmark for the event of 1.8 million in Beijing in 2008.
Bolt goes into the 200 final seeking to become the first man to win the 100 and 200 at two successive Olympics.
The Jamaican and the training partner he playfully nicknames The Beast, compatriot Yohan Blake, comfortably won their 200 semi-finals with both easing up towards the line.
Bolt said he was looking forward to the final of his favorite event and would win it "without a doubt".
"I'm never going to say I'm the greatest until I've won the 200. It was all about this, to successfully defend my titles, because this is what's going to make me a legend," he said after his 100 victory in London on Sunday.
The Americans captured seven of the dozen athletics medals available on Wednesday, with Aries Merritt rocketing to victory in the men's 110 hurdles and Allyson Felix striking gold at her third attempt in the 200.
Brittney Reese registered only two out of six attempts in the long jump but her second leap of 7.12 meters was good enough to win the third U.S. gold of the night.
With Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh picking up their third straight Olympic beach volleyball title in an all-American final, the U.S. lifted their haul of golds to 34 to make up ground on China at the top of the medals table.
The Chinese won in women's taekwondo and the men's team table tennis - completing a second successive Olympic clean sweep in that sport - to advance to 36 golds.
"The guys were talking about closing the gap on China. We will show we are the best track and field nation in the world," said Jason Richardson, runner-up to Merritt in the 110 hurdles.
In fact, on the U.S. team website the United States stands atop the unofficial ranking based on medals won. Overall they have 81 to China's 77.
After a slow start to the Games, Australia's recovery continued on Thursday with gold in the men's K4 1,000 meter canoeing final on Dorney Lake outside London.
Other medal winners on the water included Hungary's Danuta Kozak, who added the K1 500 title to her burgeoning medals cabinet, while German Peter Kretschmer and Kurt Kuschela snatched victory in the men's canoe double 1,000.
The German women added to their country's tally with a win in the women's K2 500 meters and deny their fierce rivals Hungary a third successive Olympic title in the discipline.
Felix, a silver medalist at the last two Olympics, lengthened her stride on the home straight of the 200 final to beat Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Jamaican winner of the 100.
"It's been a long time coming. I am so overjoyed," said Felix, who was runner-up to Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown in 2004 and 2008 and lost her world title to her last year.
The men's hurdles was also a U.S.-Caribbean affair, with Jamaican Hansle Parchment taking bronze behind Americans Merritt and Richardson.
Russia's Natalya Antyukh just held on at the line to beat American Lashinda Demus in the women's 400 hurdles.
American Ashton Eaton was in front after six events of the decathlon, ahead of team mate Trey Hardee and Damian Warner of Canada.
In the boxing ring, where women are competing at the Olympics for the first time, Ireland's Katie Taylor beat a Tajik opponent to set up a lightweight final on Thursday against Russia's Sofya Ochigava.
In the middleweight final, 17-year-old Claressa Shields of the U.S. will face another Russian, Nadezhda Torlopova, who at 33 is nearly twice her age.