Lots of action involving local athletes will take place Thursday at the 2012 London Olympics, so let's jump right in.
Team USA's youngest Olympian, 15-year-old Katie Ledecky of Bethesda, will swim in her only event of the Games, the 800-meter freestyle Thursday (Heats begin at 5:19 a.m., Final Friday at 2:45 p.m.). Ledecky swims in Heat 3, while Kate Ziegler (born in Fairfax, and raised in Great Falls, Va.) will go in Heat 5. Ziegler will be joined in her heat by the world record holder, Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain.
Staying in the pool, Michael Phelps will race three times Thursday: once for gold in the 200-meter IM (3:16 p.m.), and twice to reach the final of the 100-meter butterfly (Heats at 6:14 a.m., semifinals at 3:51 p.m.)
Not to be outdone by her junior Ledecky, Virginia Beach's Gabby Douglas will go for gold in the women's individual all-around gymnastics event (11:30 a.m.)
In team sports action, the field hockey firm of Claire Laubach, Shannon Taylor, Keli Smith-Puzo, Caroline Nichols, Katie O'Donnell and company look to ride the momentum of Tuesday's surprise 1-0 win over Argentina as they face Australia Thursday (5:45 a.m.). Peter Hudnut and the American water polo team face Great Britain at 1:20 p.m., while Reid Priddy and the U.S. men's volleyball team face Brazil at 3:00 p.m.
Action also resumes in men's basketball, as Kevin Seraphin and France face Lithuania at 4:00 a.m., Nene leads Brazil against Russia at 11:45 a.m., and Kevin Durant and Team USA face George Mason's Tony Skinn and Nigeria at 5:15 p.m.
In sailing, Farrah Hall remains 18th after four races in the RS-X program. Two more will be run Thursday at 9:15 a.m. and 10:05 a.m.
Finally, congratulations are due to D.C. United's Andy Najar and his Honduras teammates, who have reached the quarterfinals of the men's soccer tournament thanks to Wednesday's 0-0 draw with Japan. Honduras will meet Brazil Saturday at 12:00 p.m. at St. James' Park in Newcastle, England.
Charlottesville's Lauren Perdue also deserves kudos for being part of the gold medal-winning women's 4 x 200m freestyle relay team, joining her fellow Virginian Matt McLean, who won gold in the men's event Tuesday night.