SI's Daily Olympic Briefing: July 30
Ryan Lochte looks to win his second gold medal today in the men's 200 freestyle
The U.S. men's gymnastics team can claim its first gold medal today since 1984
Tennis action features Roger Federer, the Williams sisters and Caroline Wozniacki
LONDON -- After chasing Michael Phelps for an eternity, Ryan Lochte now chases history. "In the run-up to London, Ryan Lochte had been widely anointed as more marketable than Michael Phelps, owning magazine racks with a succession of crossover covers like Vogue," writes SI's Tim Layden. "But in the rush to call Lochte the Sexiest Swimmer Alive, his passion for gold might have been overlooked. It's a cliché, but applicable here: Phelps left Beijing with the biggest medal haul in Olympic history. Lochte, who twice took silver medals behind Phelps' golds and was eclipsed by Phelps's stardom, left China with motivation."
On Saturday, Lochte swam away from Phelps and the rest of the field to win the men's 400 IM. After helping the 4x100 freestyle relay team win a silver on Sunday, he looks again for Gold No. 2 today (2:43 p.m.) in the 200 free, one of four swimming events where medals will be handed out. Medals will also be awarded in diving, fencing, men's gymnastics, judo, shooting and weightlifting.
The United States men's gymnastics team has emerged as a power in London and can win the country's first team gold in that event since 1984. The U.S. leads the field heading into the team final (competition starts at 11:30 a.m.) after finishing with a score of 275.342 in the qualification round, 2.747 ahead of second-place Russia (272.595). Host Great Britain stands in third at 272.420.
Danell Leyva of the U.S. was the top-ranked gymnast in qualifying for the individual all-around, scoring 91.265, followed by Russia's David Belyavskiy (90.832) and Germany's Fabian Hambuchen (90.7865). John Orozco of the U.S. was fourth at 90.597. Four Americans also qualified for spots in individual event finals, including Jonathan Horton and Leyva on the horizontal bar, Jacob Dalton in the floor exercise and Sam Mikulak on vault.
Four medals will be awarded in swimming today, including the men's 200 freestyle (2:43 p.m.), in which Lochte will be severely tested by Paul Biedermann of Germany, Yannick Agnel of France and Sun Yang of China. Lochte is a slight favorite and SI's pick to win. The women's 100 backstroke (2:51 p.m.) features 17-year-old American Missy Franklin going after her first Olympic gold. Her main competition will be Australia's Emily Seebohm, Russia's Anastasia Zueva and Zhao Jing of China.
Matt Grevers easily won his semifinal on Sunday night and is SI's pick in the men's 100-meter backstroke (2:58 p.m.), followed by Ryosuke Irie and Camille Lacourt of France. American Nick Thoman also qualified for the final.
In the women's 100 breaststroke (3:15 p.m.), the Americans could go 1-2 with Rebecca Soni and Breeja Larson. Larson stunned Soni at the U.S. Trials in Omaha. Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte can become her country's first swimming medalist in the race. Also, Australia's Leisel Jones is aiming for a fourth successive medal in this event and qualified with the fifth-fastest time. In swimming, this has never been achieved in an individual event in either gender and has been performed only twice when also considering relay events.
There are significant preliminaries as well, including Michael Phelps swimming in the 200 butterfly heats (5:21 a.m.) and semis (3:32 p.m.) He's won this event over the last two Games. U.S. swimmer Allison Schmidt will be the favorite in the 200 free, which contests prelims (5 a.m.) and semis (2:30 p.m.). The women's 200 IM heats (5:41 a.m.) and semis (3:55 p.m.) feature Australia's Stephanie Rice, who won three golds in world-record times at Beijing.
After struggling for three quarters against Croatia before a game-breaking 16-0 run in the fourth, the U.S. women's basketball team faces Angola (5:15 p.m.) in a Group A game. Other games of interest include Australia-France (9:30 a.m.) and Russia-Brazil (11:45 p.m.).
The U.S. women's water polo team -- SI's pick for silver -- opens play against Hungary at 2:40 p.m. Favored Australia meets Italy at 10:30 a.m.
Some of the tennis competition was pushed back due to rain on Sunday. The center court lineup for today (play begins at 7 a.m.) includes Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) vs. Irina-Camelia Begu (Romania), Roger Federer (Switzerland) vs. Julien Benneteau (France), Andreas Seppi (Italy) vs. Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina) and Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark).
Americans Serena Williams and John Isner will also be in singles action on Court 1, as will Andy Roddick and Venus Williams on Court 2. Venus and Serena Williams will also be the fourth doubles match on Court 2 against Romania's Sorana Cirstea and Simona Halep.
After a 3-1 win over South Korea in its opening match, the U.S. women's volleyball team faces Brazil at 11:45 a.m. in Group B pool play at Earl's Court. It's one of six matches today in women's volleyball.
The elimination phase of the individual archery competition takes place at Lord's Cricket Ground. American Miranda Leek (4.39 a.m.) is paired with Kateryna Palekha of Ukraine.
Badminton begins at 3:30 a.m. in men's and women's singles and men's doubles and mixed doubles. American Rena Wang meets China's Wang Xin in the opening match of the day in singles (3:30 a.m.). The U.S. men's doubles team of Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan faces Naoki Kawamae and Shoji Sato of Japan (9:19 a.m.)
Preliminary pool play continues in men's and women's beach volleyball. Defending gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, who rolled in their opening match on Saturday, face Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova of the Czech Republic (6 p.m.). The U.S. men's team of Jacob Gibb and Sean Rosenthal, SI's pick for bronze, plays Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel of Poland at 4 p.m.
Boxing will feature action in men's flyweight and light heavyweight, starting at 8:30 a.m. American light heavyweight Marcus Browne fights Australian Damien Hooper in the last bout of the morning session.
Men's canoe (whitewater men's double) and women's whitewater kayak competition continues at the Lee Valley White Water Center (starting at 8:30 a.m.). The Canoeing program at the Olympics consists of 83 paddlers from 30 countries vying for 12 medals.
Great Britain has strong interest in the men's synchronized 10-meter platform diving final (10 a.m.) as Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield, the overall world series champions in synchro, battle China's Lin Yue and Qiu Bo. SI picks the pair from China to win, with Great Britain getting silver. Americans David Boudia and Nick McCrory will also be one of the eight teams competing.
The equestrian individual and team cross country events start today at 7:30 a.m. American Boyd Martin (riding Otis Barbotiere) is first up in the competition. Americans Karen O'Connor (Mr. Medicott), Tiana Coudray (Ringwood Magister), William Coleman (Twizzel) will also ride today.
SI's pick to win the women's epee individual final is Li Na of China. The all-day epee competition begins at 5:30 a.m. The medal match is scheduled for 2:10 p.m.
Women's handball will be held at the Copper Box, including medal favorite Norway (which was shocked by France 24-23 on Saturday) meeting Sweden at 4:15 p.m. It's one of six matches today.
The Australians are the team to watch in men's field hockey. They play South Africa (5:45 a.m.) at the Riverbank Arena's main pitch. It's one of six men's matches in field hockey today.
Judo will award medals in women's 57kg (11 a.m.) and men's 73kg final (11:10 a.m.) SI predicts Kaori Matsumoto of Japan will win gold in the women's 57kg and Wang Ki-chun of South Korea for men's 73kg. The elimination bouts begin at 4:30 a.m. Italy's Giulia Quintavalle can become the first person to win back-to-back gold medals in women's 57kg.
The third day of rowing commences at Eton Dorney with competition beginning at 4:30 a.m. The U.S. women row today in the quadruple sculls competition (4:40 a.m.) and the men's quadruple sculls will be on the water at 5 a.m.
Britain has been the sailing leader at the last three Games and the leader of the fleet is Ben Ainslie, one of the greatest figures in the history of his sport. He's SI's pick to win the Finn (heavyweight) division. That group will be on the water today at 9 a.m.
China's Zhu Qinan can become the first men's 10-meter air rifle shooter to win three medals at the Olympic Games, but Niccolo Campriani is SI's pick for gold in the finals (7:15 p.m.).
Table tennis moves into the third and fourth rounds of men's and women's singles. SI's picks for gold and silver -- Zhang Jike (5 a.m.) and Wang Hao (8 a.m.) -- play today.
Weightlifting will hand out medals in women's 58kg and men's 62kg. SI picks Nastassia Novikava of Belarus to win the 58kg and Zhang Jie of China to win the men's 62kg. China was tops in weightlifting in Beijing with 13 medals.
"During Wimbledon, the pressure is high. I mean, I said it the other day when I came in, because the last stage of Wimbledon, I've been the last Brit in for the last few years. There's a lot of focus just on you. Whereas when you're playing now in an Olympics, that's not the case. There's so many great athletes, so many sports going on just now, it's more the motivation to want to be part of, that you want to help the medal count, if you can and give yourself the best chance of doing that."
-- Great Britain tennis player Andy Murray, on the difference between Wimbledon and the Olympics.
14,971: Number of seats on Centre Court at Wimbledon for the Olympic Games.
74: Targets (out of 75) hit by U.S. shooter Kim Rhode in the skeet during preliminary action at the Royal Artillery Barracks Sunday morning. Rhode went on to win the gold medal.
50:1: Odds on Great Britain winning the most gold medals at the London Olympics, according to Ladbrokes.
1. It's All Bikinis, Beer And Benny Hill, by Bryony Gordon, The Sunday Telegraph. The British press goes to town on the "fabulously appointed figures of the world's beach volleyball players."
2. London Olympics: All That Glitters Isn't Necessarily Gold, by Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times. How much is a gold medal worth? Try $708.
3. Compare and Contrast: Han Solo vs. Hope Solo, by Eric Spitznagel, New York Times. In the battle of Solos, the winner is Han.