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Fourth-Place Medal

Eight stories to watch out for during Olympic gymnastics

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

China's Yao Jinnan (Getty)

Twelve and a half hours after the Opening Ceremony begins, gymnastics competition will start. The men's team preliminaries run on Saturday and the women start Sunday. Here are the 10 things to watch for as you tune in:

1. How the women's all-around drama will unfold: Americans won the last two all-arounds, with Carly Patterson in 2004 and Nastia Liukin in 2008. With Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber finishing tenths of a point apart in the Visa Championships and Olympic trials, the two can push each other to another American gold. However, with Russia's Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina, China's Yao Jinnan competing, nothing is assured for the U.S.

2. If Romania can reclaim previous glory: Romania won the team title in 2000 and 2004, but fell to a bronze in Beijing, and they didn't win a medal at the 2011 world championships. Though they rebounded by dominating at the European Championships, they will need to get over Ana Porgras' retirement and Larisa Iordache being limited by plantar fasciitis.

[Related: Seven things to look for at Friday's Opening Ceremony]

3. How injury will affect the U.S. women: Early this week, McKayla Maroney broke her toe and replacement athlete Anna Li tore a neck ligament. Maroney hit her trademark vault in podium training on Thursday, but as NBC Chicago reported, Li is not practicing, and wearing a brace for precautionary reasons. Injuries played a part in the U.S. taking silver instead of gold in 2008, so Team USA's objective must be to not let anyone else get hurt.

4. If Kohei Uchimura is invincible: Gymnastics can be fickle, and even the best bets falter. That being said, Japan's Uchimura looks like a stone cold lock. Since winning team and all-around silver in Beijing, Uchimura has three all-around world championships, plus six other world championship medals. There is no sign of him slowing.

5. How the "old ladies" fare: Two gymnasts who are well past the average age of Olympic gymnasts are competing and have good shots at medals. Oksana Chusovitina is 37, and has competed for three different countries. Now a German citizen, Chusovitina has a chance at a vaulting medal. Brit Beth Tweddle is 27, and though she's been in two previous Olympics, has yet to medal. Watch to see if the home crowd and her high-flying release moves will power her to the podium.

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U.S. men's team (Getty)

6. If Horton can power the men back to the podium: When the U.S. men won bronze in 2008, it was a surprise. It was also the product of fantastic performances by Jonathan Horton, who inspired his team to win a medal. He's the only returner from the 2008 team, but he's surrounded by a more accomplished team which took bronze at the world championships. John Orozco took fifth in the all-around and Danell Leyva won parallel bars. Can they win another team medal?

[Photos: 10 most searched Olympians of the 2012 Games]

7. Can the Chinese men be beat: The British men will have the home crowd. The Americans have high-flying high bars, and the Japanese men have Uchimura. But top to bottom, the Chinese, the reigning world champs, are the most likely team to end atop the podium.

8: Can the American women be beat: The U.S. women are the reigning world champions. Jordyn Wieber is the reigning all-around champ. McKayla Maroney is the reigning vaulting champion, and the U.S. also had medals in beam and floor. The U.S. women have also been putting up big scores all year. If they hit their routines, they will win.

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