Women outnumber men in US contingent

The United States will send 530 athletes to the London Olympics as part of a massive team that will feature, for the first time, more women competitors than men, officials announced on Tuesday.

The team will feature 269 women and 261 men competing in 25 of the 38 disciplines during the July 27-Aug 12 Games where the United States are expected to challenge China as the leading nation on the medals table.  “They are our nation's greatest athletes and embody what it means to be American,” US Olympic Committee Chief Executive Scott Blackmun said in a statement.

More than half of the team will be competing at their first Olympics. Of the returning athletes, seven are attending their fifth Olympics and another 21, including Michael Phelps, will be appearing at their fourth.

Phelps already holds the record for the most gold medals at a single Olympics (8) and a career (14) and needs to medal in three of his seven events in London to surpass Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's overall record of 18 total medals.

Natalie Coughlin needs just one more medal to join fellow swimmers Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres as the most decorated American female Olympian with 12 medals. The oldest competitor is 54-year-old equestrian rider Karen O'Connor, while the youngest is 15-year-old swimmer Katie Ledecky.

Smallest team

Australia is sending its smallest team to a Summer Olympics since the 1992 Games, with 410 athletes set to compete in London with the goal of a top five finish on the medals table.

The team, finalised on Wednesday and supported by 319 officials, is 25 members smaller than the party which won 14 gold, 15 silver, 17 bronze medals in Beijing to finish sixth.  It is comfortably bigger, however, than the 290 who competed at the Barcelona Games 20 years ago.

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