The Global Games

TIME's worldwide reach brings you a parade of compelling Olympians

Jill Greenberg for TIME

LeBron James passes a basketball.

When Dara Torres, now 41, first set the world record for the 50-m freestyle in 1983, LeBron James hadn't even been born. The arc of athletic celebrity has changed. You can be a star at 15 and again at 41. Torres' remarkable swimming comeback and James' single-minded determination to bring back the gold medal in basketball are so compelling, yet so different, that we decided to do two TIME covers to show the breadth of our Olympic preview, which begins on page 44. And as evidence of our global reach, TIME's Asian-edition cover features Chinese athlete Liu Xiang, who four years...

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