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26OLYMPIC REVIEWwww.olympic.orgStanka Zlateva of Bulgariadelighted home supporterswhen she retained her titlein the 72kg class at theEuropean WrestlingChampionship in Sofia.Women's freestylewrestling became part ofthe Games programmeonly three years ago inAthens, and Zlateva, theworld champion, will beamong the favourites inBeijing in 2008. It was animpressive Championshipshowing for the hosts asNikolai Gergov triumphedin the 66kg category.Sanya Richards, a memberof the triumphant USA 4 x400m relay team in Athensin 2004, is looking to joinan elite group of track-and-field athletes in Beijing.Richards, 22, is preparing abid to win four gold medalsat one edition of theGames, which, if achieved,would put her in the samecategory as Jesse Owens(1936), Fanny Blankers-Koen (1948) and Carl Lewis(1984). She is theworld silver medallistover one lap and she ishoping to be able tocompete in the 200m,400m and both relays inBeijing.His first Olympic Games were in Seoulin 1988, and his first gold medalarrived four years later in Barcelona,but Australian James Tomkins has no plans toretire. Even at 42, he has proved that he is readyfor more glory at Beijing 2008. Tomkins, a tripleOlympic champion, is aiming to become theoldest gold medallist in rowing after anothergreat performance in a Coxless Four at a trialsselection event that his team won.If Tomkins triumphs in Beijing, he would end a 100-year record held by Britain's GuyNickalls, who was part of the winning men'sEight in London in 1908 at the age of 41 yearsand 262 days. "I love competing and the Olympic Games isthe tops in our sport," said Tomkins, who will be43 by the time of the Games. "I don't do themass amount of volume rowing work theyounger athletes do. I concentrate more onpower and strength, spending more time in thegym and on the bike."Below (right)42-year-old James TomkinsAGENOBARRIERIt is seven years since Japan's KoseiInoue won gold in the half-heavyweightcategory at the Olympic Games inSydney, but he remains as determined as ever tobe at the top of the podium in Beijing nextsummer. Inoue, 28, has returned to the sport instyle this year after injury prevented him fromcompeting internationally following defeat in the quarter-finals in Athens in 2004.As he won a heavyweight title at a tournamentin Paris in February, he said: "After the Games inAthens I thought that maybe I should retire fromcompetition but I soon started to think about thefuture and I decided to continue. Even when I hadmany injuries, I wanted to compete in Beijing."Prior to Athens, he was virtually unbeatable,but he added: "My defeatin Athens lifted a lot ofpressure from myshoulders. I was under toomuch stress."LeftInoue in actionBeach volleyball is aiming to ensurethat standards remain high duringthe countdown to Beijing, with thenext two European Championship finalshanded the status of qualifying events. Angelo Squeo, Director of the FIVB BeachVolleyball department, said: "We are veryhappy to have paved the way for Europeanplayers to draw more points for their Olympicqualification in the European Circuit." Playerscan improve their rankings from either thisyear's European Championships in Valenciain August or the July 2008 event in Hamburgto go alongside results from world events.Based on their eight best events, the world'stop 23 countries qualify alongside host China.JUDO STARSET FORCOMEBACKPENDLETON MAKESHERMARKHEADINGFOR THEBEACHAbovePendleton strikes gold in MallorcaVictoria Pendleton established herselfas one of the major competitorsleading up to the Olympic Games inBeijing next summer when she won three goldsfor Great Britain at the World Track CyclingChampionships in Mallorca in late March.Pendleton, 26, celebrated victory in the teamand individual sprints and the keirin as Britainled the way in seven events."I wanted to win a medal, so to come backwith three is a big surprise," saidPendleton, who was sixth in the time trialand ninth in the 200m sprint in Athens in2004. "I'm delighted with all the medals butthe sprint was the best one. It's the one I'vetrained for." But she is looking beyond Beijing,aiming to be competing at this level in 2012when the Games take place in London. Sheadded: "It's an amazing opportunity to be at anOlympic Games in your home country. I just reallyhope that I'm still going."NEWS INBRIEF

www.olympic.orgOLYMPIC REVIEW27PHELPS TARGETINGRECORD HAULMichael Phelps is aiming tobreak one of the landmarkperformances in the history ofthe Olympic Games when he bids foreight gold medals in Beijing - and hehas the backing of the man he hopes to overtake.Mark Spitz remains a sporting legendafter he won seven swimming golds inMunich in 1972, a success his fellowAmerican matched at the WorldChampionships in Melbourne in March,a thrilling foundation for what mighthappen in China next August.Phelps, who broke five world recordsin Melbourne, said: "This is the best-case scenario for what we had in mindleading into the trials and OlympicGames. I'm hitting my peak. I want to be one of the greatest swimmers of all time." Spitz watched his races in Melbourneand said: "Records are made to bebroken. Michael Phelps does have achance. But just as the same happenedfor me, a lot of things have to go right."Below Michael Phelps of the US isaiming to win eight gold medals inBeijing next yearBEIJINGCOUNTDOWN