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WORTH CHECKING OUT

TRIPLE JUMP: American Mike Conley, the 1992 gold medalist, goes into today's competition hoping to hop, skip and jump out of the shadow of Britain's Jonathan Edwards.

Edwards is the defending world champion, world record-holder and the only person to exceed 60 feet in the event. Conley, the 1993 world champion and indoor world record-holder, concedes that Edwards may be the greatest triple jumper in history, but he's disappointed that most pundits aren't giving him a chance.

"Where do you draw the line? Does my gold medal matter? Does my world record?" Conley asked. "It's what happens the day (of the competition). It only matters who brings it out that day. John's a super jumper, but all that matters is who brings it out that day."

Kenny Harrison won the U.S. trials and is the 1991 world champion.

HEPTATHLON: The incomparable Jackie "I have red toenails" Joyner-Kersee begins her quest for a third consecutive gold medal in this event. This may be the last Olympiad for Kersee, 34, and her chances of victory are not guaranteed.

After an injury-plagued 1995, Kersee was less than spectacular at the trials. Track experts are predicting the competition will be fierce with Germany's Sabine Braun and Syria's Ghada Shouaa making the strongest challenges. Shouaa has scored 300 points more than anyone else in the world this year, and some say she hasn't hit her stride. The gold and the world record (7,291) could be within her reach.

The four events contested today: 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL: NBC believes this up-and-coming sport will be a favorite with viewers.

Today's coverage includes the women's gold-medal match that pits Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires against fellow Brazilians Monica Rodrigues and Adriana Samuel Ramos. The men's semifinals features Americans Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes against Canadians John Child and Mark Heese, and Americans Mike Dodd and Mike Whitmarsh against Portugal's Joao Brenha and Miguel Maia. Brenha and Maia eliminated heavily-favored Sinjin Smith and Carl Henkel on Friday.

_ ERNEST HOOPER

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