Olympic athletics, the showcase sport at the Games, got underway on Friday with the 100-metre hurdles races in heptathlon where hosts Britain will hope for gold from Jennifer Ennis.

Men’s shot put and the women’s 10,000m were the first medal events of the day’s later session, while Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt was to take to the track Saturday to start his Beijing 2008 title defences in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m.

Set for the Friday morning session were, among others, heats in the triple jump and women’s 100m, 400m -- featuring Brunei’s first woman at the Olympics, Maziah Mahusin.

The start of the 10 days of athletics on a breezy and partly cloudy morning in a packed 82,000-seat Olympic stadium also brought the Olympic flame back to attention.

The flame had been burning quietly in the empty stadium since being lit at the opening ceremony a week ago, placed behind the finish line and not visible from outside.

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