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World's Top 2008 Olympic Contenders

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The following athletes were the world's top gold medal contenders going into the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

1. Usain Bolt

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Usain Bolt entered the 2008 Olympics as the new world record-holder at 100 meters. He left the Games with more records, and three gold medals.

2. Veronica Campbell-Brown

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Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown hoped to defend her 200-meter Olympic title in Beijing. She succeeded.

3. Liu Xiang

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China’s Liu Xiang hoped that home track advantage would help him win in Beijing, but he never got the chance, staggering off the track with a foot injury.

4. Dayron Robles

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The highly anticipated battle between Robles and Liu Xiang didn't happen in Beijing, thanks to Liu's injury. But Robles' gold-medal performance was still impressive.

5. Pamela Jelimo

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A change of events earlier in 2008 brought an amazing change to rising star Pamela Jelimo’s meteoric career. At 19, she raced to Olympic gold in Beijing.

6. Meseret Defar

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In 2004, Meseret Defar was a surprise gold medalist at Athens. In Beijing, she had to settle for bronze in the 5000.

7. Kenenisa Bekele

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Kenenisa Bekele faced star-studded fields in his second attempt to win Olympic gold medals in both the 5000 and 10,000 at Beijing.

8. Tirunesh Dibaba

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The only runner, male or female, to win both the 5000 and 10,000 at the same World Championship meet, Tirunesh Dibaba added a pair of Olympic golds to her medals collection in 2008.

9. Haile Gebrselassie

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After seeming to set his sights on the 2008 Olympic marathon – and setting a world marathon record along way, in 2007 – Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie reversed course and ran in the 10,000 meters at Beijing because he was concerned about the city's air pollution.

10. Ezekiel Kemboi

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The 2004 Olympic steeplechase champion hoped for a repeat in 2008, but had to be content when a different Kenyan runner earned the gold medal in Beijing.

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