The Olympians

Athens may be struggling to get ready, but for U.S. ATHLETES the preparations are over. They've competed fiercely against one another to earn the right to represent their country when the Games begin

TOM PAPPAS AGE 27 HOMETOWN Azalea, Ore. EVENT Decathlon THE DRAMA He has never been to the country and doesn't speak the language, but the Greeks count Pappas as one of their own. His great-grandfather left Athens for the U.S. in the early 1900s. THE COMPETITION He's the 2003 world champion but struggling to stay in top form. Roman Sebrle, a Czech, will be one of his top rivals in this two-day, 10-event contest that includes running, jumping and throwing.

STEVEN LOPEZ AGE 25 HOMETOWN Sugarland, Texas EVENT Taekwondo THE DRAMA Lopez, going for a second straight Olympic title, has...