Swimmer James Magnussen of Australia smiles during a press conference ahead of the London Olympic Games.
Swimmer James Magnussen of Australia smiles during a press conference ahead of the London Olympic Games. Alexander Hassenstein - Getty Images

Top ten hopes for Aussie gold

THE waiting is finally over. With the opening ceremony out of the way, the athletes can get down to the real business of why they are in London.

Medals will be decided today in seven sports - archery, cycling, fencing, judo, shooting, swimming and weightlifting.

Australia will be keen to open its account with Stephanie Rice chasing gold in the 400m individual medley and our women's 100m sprinters a great chance of a medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

The big question is: How many gold medals can we win?

Today we look at the top Aussie hopes in London.

1: Swimming, men's 100m freestyle - James Magnussen.

He's had big shoes to fill, but the man nicknamed "The Missile" is set to make a giant-sized splash in London.

The 21-year-old from Port Macquarie shot to international fame when he won the 100m freestyle at the 2011 world championships in Shanghai, and is clearly the man to beat.

2: Athletics, women's 100m hurdles - Sally Pearson.

The Gold Coaster would have been the hottest of favourites for this event had she not been surprisingly beaten by American Kellie Wells in Paris earlier this month.

Was it an abberation? Time will tell, but the 2011 world champion is still the hot favourite.

3: Hockey, men's - Kookaburras.

After living in the shadow of their female counterparts, the Hockeyroos, for years, the men's team finally won gold in Athens before taking bronze in Beijing. The team now has the secret ingredient that helped the women's team to glory - coach Ric Charlesworth, and is favourite to win in London. The biggest dangers are expected to be Germany and The Netherlands.

4: Swimming, men's 4x100m freestyle relay - James Magnussen, James Roberts, Eamon Sullivan, Matt Targett, Cameron McEvoy.

What a line-up! US superstar Michael Phelps was careful not to give the Aussies any ammunition at a press conference yesterday, clearly aware his team faces a mammoth task to win gold in what will be one of the most anticipated events in the pool.

5: Sailing, men's 470 class - Malcolm Page and Matt Belcher.

London will be Page's third Olympics, but first with Belcher. The pair linked up after the Beijing Games where Page won gold with Nathan Wilmot.

They started slowly but became the world's No.1 combination in 2010 and backed that up with a second world championship last year.

6: Cycling, women's kierin - Anna Meares.

The showdown with British darling Victoria Pendleton will be one of the highlights of the London Games. The Queenslander won the kierin, led Australia to a silver in the team sprint and finished with bronze in the individual sprint at the 2012 world championships in Melbourne and is a great chance in all three.

7: Sailing, men's laser - Tom Slingsby.

The 27-year-old has won almost everything in sailing, except an Olympic gold medal. The world champion in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012, Slingsby could manage just 22nd in Beijing. Only bad luck can beat him here.

8: Cycling, men's omnium - Glenn O'Shea.

Australia has a host of high-profile cyclists, but O'Shea is not one of them. He will go into London as favourite to win gold in the omnium, however, after winning the event at this year's world championships. He is also a great team pursuit rider and could pick up another medal in that event.

9: Rowing, men's double sculls - David Crawshay, Scott Brennan.

This pair won gold in Beijing and are favourites in London. After Beijing, Brennan took a couple of years out of the sport to pursue a career, but the pair rejoined in 2010 and finished fourth in the 2011 world championships before dominating the Olympic trials.

10: Cycling, men's team pursuit - Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn, Alex Edmonson, Rohan Dennis, Glenn O'Shea.

Australia finished fourth in Beijing, Bobridge the only remaining member of that team. The newcomers have shown they can improve on that result, winning a World Cup event in London earlier this year before finishing a close second in the world championships.