Returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1924, mixed-doubles tennis could produce some tantalizing pairings, such as good friends Andy Roddick and Serena Williams. Leander Paes (above, right) and Sania Mirza will team up for India.
Half of the 10 events on the now gender-equal track-cycling program are new, including the omnium, a two-day, six-discipline test. Team USA's Sarah Hammer (above)—the world-record holder in the individual pursuit—could medal in the event, to which she switched after the IOC dropped the individual pursuit three years ago.
Less Is More
Paddlers such as Great Britain's Ed McKeever (left) will have to get up to speed in a hurry: All flat-water canoe/kayak sprint races have been shortened from 500 meters to 200 to make them more exciting and television-friendly.
Modern pentathletes will not only have to adjust to laser pistols, which have replaced pellet guns for the shooting portion of their event, but they'll also have to get used to firing those guns with a high heart rate. Running and shooting have been combined, just as skiing and shooting are in the biathlon.
Too harsh? Track's new no-false-starts rule bounced Usain Bolt (page 88) from the 100 final at the 2011 worlds.