SI's Daily Olympic Briefing: Aug. 5
The Olympics' signature event, the men's 100m, should be one of the fastest ever
Roger Federer and Andy Murray square off in a Wimbledon rematch for the gold
The U.S. women's basketball team (4-0) concludes preliminary play against China
LONDON -- "It looms as one of the most complex and intriguing races in recent Olympic sprint history. Yet in another way, the Olympic men's 100-meter final can be distilled down to the simplest of uncertainties: Which Usain Bolt will fold himself into the blocks? Will it be the video game character who hijacked the Beijing Olympics and then 12 months later took the world record down to an absurd 9.58 seconds at the 2009 world championships in Berlin, or will it be the hard-partying, car-crashing, false starting, oft-injured Bolt who was beaten by Yohan Blake in the 100 meters and 200 meters at the Jamaican Olympic Trials in late June."
So writes SI.com's Tim Layden of the signature single event of the Olympics -- the men's 100 final (4:50 p.m.). The race offers must-see theater thanks to Bolt, fellow countrymen Blake and Asafa Powell, and the Americans Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay. It will likely go down as one of the fastest sprints in history and Layden, in his preview of the race, sees Blake finishing ahead of Bolt and Gay on the medal stand.
The men's 100 final bursts into the spotlight tonight as part of a mega-day in London that includes medals awarded in badminton, track cycling, diving, fencing, gymnastics, sailing, shooting, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.
And so they meet again. Roger Federer (Switzerland) and Andy Murray (Great Britain), who battled less than a month ago at the All England Club, have advanced to the finals of the Olympic singles tennis tournament. Federer previously won Olympic gold in men's doubles (with Swiss teammate Stanislas Wawrinka in 1988) but he is 0 for 3 in Olympic singles. He has looked forward to this moment for years.
Murray has yet to win a major but inched closer with his Wimbledon finals loss to Federer on July 8, a taut 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 match that raised Murray in the eyes of the British public because of the fight he showed. "Murray finds himself playing high-stakes matches in Great Britain without being at the gravitational center of the national sports landscape," writes SI.com's Jon Wertheim. "And as the attention has dispersed, so has the pressure on Murray. We're not at Wimbledon any more, and as he blazes through the Olympic tennis draw, there is no sense that he (all together now) 'carries the weight of his homeland.' There are other Brits to help shoulder the load. Adding to the ease, after a few nervous days, the U.K. has already won gold medals. So Murray is not further burdened by the task of snapping a drought."
After destroying the opposition in singles, Serena Williams joins her sister Venus for the women's doubles gold medal match (7 a.m.) against Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic. With three previous Olympic gold medals, Serena and Venus can become the first players, men or women, to win four Olympic gold medals in tennis.
Murray will play for the mixed doubles gold with Laura Robson immediately after his singles match against Federer. Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarus are the opponents. Bronze medal matches will also be held in men's singles (Novak Djokovic-Juan Martin del Potro), women's doubles and mixed doubles.
Six medals will be awarded in track, including the women's marathon (6 a.m.) where SI likes a pair of Keynans, Mary Keitany and Edna Kiplagat, to take gold and silver. American Shalane Flanagan and Desiree Davilla are outside contenders. Olha Saladuha of Ukraine is the favorite in the women's triple jump final (2:35 p.m.) while defending Olympic champion Primoz Kozmus of Slovakia and Hungary's Krisztián Pars are the ones to beat in the men's hammer throw (3:20 p.m.).
Kenya can extend the country's longest current athletics streak to eight with another victory in the men's 3,000 steeplechase final (3:25 p.m.). Look for either Brimin Kipruto, Ezekiel Kemboi and Abel Mutai of Kenya to win. Kipruto is the defending champion. Evan Jager of the U.S. has an outside shot for a medal, so keep an eye on him.
The women's 400 (4:10 p.m.) sets up as a showcase race featuring American Sanya Richards-Ross, Russia's Antonia Krivoshapka and Botswana's Amantle Montsho, the current world champion. Great Britain's Christine Ohurogu is the defending Olympic champ and will also be in the mix. If Montsho wins the race, it will be Botswana's first Olympic medal. She is the only female athlete representing Botswana in any sport at these Games.
Also on the track and field program are the semifinals of the men's 100 (2:45 p.m.), the women's 400m hurdles opening round (2 p.m.), the men's high jump qualifying rounds (2:05 p.m.), men's 1500 semifinals (3:15 p.m.) and men's 400m semifinals (4:10 p.m.)
Gymnastics heads to the individual apparatuses competition with the men's floor exercise (9 a.m.), women's vault (9:30 a.m.) and men's pommel horse (10:41 a.m.). American McKayla Maroney is the reigning world champion in the vault and qualified first into this final. In the vault finals, competitors must perform twice (versus once during team or all-around finals), and their two scores are averaged. The men's floor exercise figures to be a two-man show between China's Zou Kai, who won this in 2008, and Japan's Kohei Uchimura, who took the all-around title. Louis Smith will aim to be the first British gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal as one of the favorites in the men's pommel horse.
American boxer Quanitta Underwood, nicknamed Queen, fights Natasha Jonas of Great Britain in a women's Round of 16 lightweight bout. Women's flyweight, women's middleweight, men's bantamweight and men's heavyweight bouts will also on the card. The early bouts start at 8:30 a.m. The later bouts come at 3:30 p.m.
American Holly Mangold, the sister of New York Jets center Nick Mangold, competes today for a women's 75+ weightlifting medal (10:30 a.m.). Mangold arrived in London on Saturday night to cheer on his sister. SI's pick for gold is Zhou Lulu of China.
The United States women's basketball team (4-0) finishes up preliminary round play against China (11:45 a.m.), which has won three of its four games including a nine-point win over the Czech Republic. Other games of note include France-Russia (4 a.m.) and Canada-Australia (9:30 a.m.).
China is likely to go gold-silver in the women's 3-meter springboard diving final (2 p.m.) with He Zi and Wu Minxia. The American to watch is Christina Loukas, who finished fourth at last year's world championships.
Beach volleyball has reached the quarterfinal round and the American women continue to thrive on the sand.
Defending Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings face Italy's Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti in the second match of the day (2 p.m.) while fellow Americans Jennifer Kessy and April Ross play Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova of the Czech Republic at 5 p.m.
The United States women's volleyball team plays Turkey, one of the six matches as preliminary pool play ends. This is the final match for the U.S. women in pool play. They are unbeaten after four matches.
Sailing hands out two medals including in the Star men's event (8 a.m.) and Finn men (9 a.m.). Great Britain's Ben Ainslie is one of the most popular sportsmen in Britain and aims to become the second sailor after Denmark's Paul Elbstrom to win three successive gold medals in the men's Finn event.
Women's water polo has entered the quarterfinal round including the following matches: U.S.-Italy (2 p.m.), Hungary Russia (9:50 a.m.), Spain-Great Britain (3:20 p.m.), and China-Australia (11:10 a.m.).
The Bad Boy of Badminton -- China's great Lin Dan -- is the favorite in the badminton men's singles final (8 a.m.). He'll meet Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, whom he beat in the Beijing final. The men's doubles final (9:15 a.m.) will also be awarded today.
Serbia's Damir Mikec is SI's pick to win the men's 50m pistol men's finals (7:30 a.m.)
Cycling has men's and women's sprints today and will award gold in the men's Omnium 1km Time Trial (1:16 p.m.). Glen O'Shea of Ireland as SI's pick to win gold.
Wresting will hand out two medals today including the men's Greco-Roman 55kg category (matches starts at 12:45 p.m.) and men's Greco-Roman 74kg (matches at 12:45 p.m.). In the 55kg, Iran's Hamid Souryan Reihanpour is a five-time world champion but finished fifth in Beijing.
Men's quarterfinal action (10 a.m.) takes place in table tennis. The women's team semifinal will also be held.
There are six women's handball matches scheduled including Norway-Spain (2:30 p.m.).
Great Britain takes on gold-medal favorite Australia (2 p.m.) in men's field hockey, one of six matches on the schedule.
"Right now, it's a different time. Then it was a communist time. Right now, everybody is playing together. Some Americans play in Russia, some Russians play in America. It doesn't really go into politics." -- Russian basketball player and NBA veteran Andrei Kirilenko, on reflecting on the gold medal basketball game between the U.S.S.R. and U.S. in 1972.
22,000: Twitter followers gained by British judoka Gemma Gibbons in the 24 hours after she won a silver medal
3:52.05: World-record time of the U.S. in the women's 4x100 medley relay (Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer, Allison Schmidt) on Saturday night
17: Games lost by Serena Williams during her run to a women's singles gold medal in tennis, the fewest games lost in women's singles Olympic play since 1920.
1. Not Plastic. Just Tough, Loyal and Talented, By Oliver Brown, The Daily Telegraph. The remarkable story of Great Britain's Yamile Aldama, and how she preserved to get to the Games.
2. The View from Rio, By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian. The Guardian checks in from the site of the next Summer Games.
3. Olympic athletes turn village into party zone, By Robert Booth, The Guardian. It's party time in the Olympic Village.