The perfect match

We've pulled out our wish list and asked for 10 ideal gold-medal matchups. Here's what they'll look like if wishes really do come true.

Jimmy Pedro (USA) vs. Lee Won Hee (South Korea)
Judo: 73 kg (161 pounds)
Monday, 4:30 p.m. ET

As reigning world champion, Hee has dominated his sport the past year and a half. The man who broke Hee's unbeaten streak of 48 matches? Pedro. Pedro, a four-time Olympian, came out of retirement for one reason only: to win gold, which is something no American has done in this discipline. Hee is the odds-on favorite, but Pedro says he is ready to make history.
-- Carrie Sheinberg

Michael Phelps (USA) vs. Ian Thorpe (Australia)
Swimming: 200 freestyle
Monday, 12:16 p.m. ET
If you only have two minutes for the Olympics, spend them both on this race. Where else can you find two former world record holders, the current record holder and perhaps the greatest ever in his sport? Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband won gold in Sydney, Thorpe owns eight of the top 10 performances in the 200 free, fellow Aussie Grant Hackett has the ability to beat them both, and Phelps wants this race so much that he blew off his coach's suggestion to think about shelving it. Seems like no matter who wins, this Day 3 showdown will be a turning point for Phelps, Thorpe, the Games and swimming as a sport.
-- Eric Adelson

John Godina (USA) vs Adam Nelson (USA)
Track and Field: Men's shot put
Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. ET

Godina has already won bronze and silver. The three-time Olympian is looking to complete his collection with gold. Nelson, known for his animated presentation on the field, has a silver medal of his own, and bragging rights after winning the Olympic trials last month. They'll be competing in the ancient stadium of Olympia where no one has competed in an Olympic Games in 1,500 years.
-- Carrie Sheinberg

Courtney Kupets (USA) vs. Carly Patterson (USA)
Gymnastics: All-around
Thursday, 9 p.m. ET

At the nationals this year, Kupets and Patterson tied for the title. Kupets won the all-around at the trials this summer, while Patterson struggled, falling off the beam twice. These are the two best gymnasts of the deepest American team ever.
-- Seth Wickersham

Maurice Greene (USA) vs Asafa Powell (Jamaica)
Track and Field: 100 meters
Aug. 22, 11:10 p.m. ET

Greene, the defending Olympic champion, already has it tattoed on his shoulder: G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time). He looked to be back in winning form at the Olympic trials in July, but two straight losses to Powell in recent tune-up events have left the Powell proclaiming Greene's time as the greatest is over.

Mixing it up even more are Americans Shawn Crawford, with the year's fastest time of 9.88, and Justin Gaitlin, who is going for the 100 and the 200. If he wins, he'll become the first athlete since 1984 to get gold at those distances -- the last person being Carl Lewis. Plus, you can't rule out world champion Kim Collins, who races poorly year-round only to break out at the biggest events. Greece has their best medal hope in this event, Costas Kenteris, who might be out after missing a doping test after a motorcycle accident Thursday.

If Greene can steady his shaky start out of the blocks, this promises to be a great match-up between the fastest men on earth.
-- Carrie Sheinberg

Andy Roddick (USA) vs Roger Federer (Switzerland)
Tennis: Men's singles
Aug. 22, 5 p.m. ET

After thrilling the crowd with an epic four-set final at Wimbledon in July, Roddick's response from the runner-up podium was "I don't know, I'll have to start winning some before you can call this a rivalry." This will be his next chance to create one. Regardless of who wins, every time these two talents meet, they produce lightning fast, ultra-precise tennis that never disappoints.
-- Carrie Sheinberg

Rulon Gardner (USA) vs. Khassan Baroev (Russia)
Wrestling: 120 kg. (264 pounds)
Aug. 25, 2 p.m. ET

Gardner shocked the world by defeating Russian Alexander Karelin at Sydney in 2000. After taking worlds in 2001, he lost the title the next year to fellow American and practice partner Dremiel Byers. Only one of the two Americans could advance to face Baroev, who defeated Gardner in qualifying at the 2003 World Championships and went on to take the title. Gardner, however, wasn't at his best after nearly dying of hypothermia from a freezing night in a Wyoming forest. He'll be healthy this time as he takes on Baroev.
-- Carrie Sheinberg

Stacy Dragila (USA) vs. The Russians
Track and Field: Women's pole vault
Aug. 27, 1:55 p.m. ET

Dragila will defend her gold medal from Sydney against Russians Svetlana Feofanova and Yelena Isinbaeva, who took the world record away from Dragila in London last month. Pole vaulters are among the most amazing athletes in the world - imagine sprinting down a runway, while carrying a really long pole then sticking the end of that pole in a little slot and flinging yourself over a bar 16 feet into the air. But why should you consider this part of NBC's must-see TV? Well, frankly, to get a little sexist here, these pole vaulters are drop-dead gorgeous. It's like watching super models compete.
-- Jim Caple

United States vs. Sweden
Women's soccer: Final
Aug. 26, 2 p.m. ET

Let's just be honest. The game of the Olympics in women's soccer actually will occur three days earlier, when the United States clashes with Birgit Prinz and Germany in the Aug. 23 semifinals. If Mia Hamm & Co. are still alive come Thursday (and that's a big if), they'll face the Swedes, the surprise of the 2003 World Cup, to decide whether soon-to-be-retired Hamm goes out a winner, or just ... goes out. That's also assuming, of course, that Sweden can regroup and advance out of pool play after getting upset 1-0 by Japan in its opener. If Germany gets through, it'll be tough for anybody on the other side of the bracket to shut down last year's World Cup champ. German standout Maren Meinert might have retired, but the Germans look as solid as ever.
-- Melanie Jackson

Brazil vs. Italy
Volleyball: Final
Aug 29, 7:30 a.m. ET

Viewers could be in for a treat -- a meeting between Brazil and Italy in pool play and the gold medal match. Both teams create pressure and run fast offenses, forcing other teams to make mistakes. So which one will give? By the way, don't discount the Americans, who are in the same pool as the favorites. With nothing to lose, they're ripe to pull off an upset or two.
-- Sherry Skalko