SI's Daily Olympic Briefing: Aug. 6
Hope Solo and the U.S. face Canada in the women's soccer semis (2:45 p.m. ET)
After edging Lithuania, Team USA takes on Argentina in its final game of pool play
All-around gymnast champ Gabby Douglas goes for gold again today on the bars
LONDON -- The Brits, at least the newspaper writers here, have developed a fondness for the U.S. women's soccer team. The Guardian recently referred to Abby Wambach as "the Alan Shearer of the women's game," and the tabloids owe a debt to Hope Solo after her disclosure about the extracurricular activities in the Olympic Village. (Exclaimed the Daily Mail, in perfect tabloid form: "Hope Solo, the gold-medal winning women's soccer player, has blown the lid on the rumored raging parties and sexual exploits of the world's most respected athletes during the Olympics.")
Sydney Leroux has yet to draw the same Fleet Street interest, but her play at the Olympics speaks for itself. She scored the final goal that sent the United States into today's Olympic semifinals against Canada (2:45 p.m. ET), which defeated Great Britain for its date with the U.S. "As a late-game forward substitute with the instructions to 'just go crazy,' as she puts it, Leroux is one of the few non-starters who can decide a game for the Americans," writes SI.com's Grant Wahl. "And if she happens to do that against Canada, her emotions would be off the charts. Leroux was born in Surrey, B.C., a Vancouver suburb, to Sandi Leroux (a Canadian national softball team player) and Ray Chadwick (an American who pitched briefly for the California Angels)."
For Leroux (who applied for U.S. citizenship shortly before she turned 18) and her teammates, a win over Canada means entry into historic Wembley Stadium for the final on Thursday. The women's semifinal is part of an exciting day in London that includes medals in cycling, equestrian, gymnastics, sailing, shooting, track and field, weightlifting and wrestling.
France and Japan meet at noon at Wembley Stadium in the first women's soccer semifinal. Japan, the defending world champion, defeated Brazil 2-0 in the quarterfinals behind goals from Yuki Ogimi and Shinobu Ohno. France fell to the U.S. in its opening match (4-2) but followed with wins over North Korea, Colombia and Sweden.
Five medals will be awarded in track and field, including the men's 400 (final at 3:30 p.m.), which was upended Saturday when U.S. star and gold-medal favorite LaShawn Merritt pulled up injured in his opening heat. The U.S. does not have a men's 400 finalist for the first time in its Olympic history, ending the U.S. streak of seven consecutive golds in the men's 400. Grenada's Kirani James remains a major contender.
The women's pole vault (2 p.m.) features Yelena Isinbayeva, the glamorous Russian star and two-time champion in the event. U.S. champion Jenn Suhr is a medal contender. Becky Holliday will also compete for the Americans. New Zealand's Valerie Adams is the favorite in the women's shot put final (2:15 p.m.), and SI's pick in the men's 400-meter hurdles (2:45 p.m.) is Javier Culson of Puerto Rico -- but the Americans have contenders including Michael Tinsley, Angelo Taylor and Kerron Clement. Kenya's Milcah Chemos Cheywa is SI's pick to win the women's 3,000 steeplechase (3:05 p.m.). Bridget Franek will compete in the race for the U.S.
The men's discuss throw qualifying rounds (5 a.m.), women's 100 hurdles (5:05 a.m.), women's shot put qualifying rounds (5:45 a.m.), men's 800 opening round (5:50 a.m.) and women's 1,500 opening round (6:45 a.m.) will all be held in the morning session. The night prelims include the women's 200 (2:20 p.m.) and women's 400 hurdles semifinals (3:15 p.m.). In the 200, the last two Olympic races have seen Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica finish ahead of American Allyson Felix.
The U.S. men's basketball team barely escaped against a determined Lithuania squad and now faces another major test against undefeated Argentina (5:15 p.m.), which is littered with NBA players, including Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino and Luis Scola. Other games of note include Australia-Russia (4 a.m.) and Spain-Brazil (3 p.m.). Writes SI.com's Ian Thomsen: "The U.S. will close out group play against Argentina, which had to be disappointed to see Lithuania waking up the Americans from their drowsiness. The Argentines must imagine that the U.S. will be seeking to affirm its strengths in anticipation of a knockout game in the quarterfinal -- most likely against Australia -- on Wednesday."
Three gymnastics medals will be awarded, including the men's rings (9 a.m.), women's uneven bars (9:30 a.m.) and men's vault (10:41 p.m.). Sam Mikulak will be the U.S. rep for the men's vault. SI's pick for gold is Hak Seon Yang of South Korea.
Women's all-around champ Gabby Douglas represents the U.S. on the bars; SI's pick for the competition is Russia's Viktoria Komova, with Douglas getting bronze. The final "features the gold, silver and bronze medalists from Thursday's all-around (Douglas, Komova and Aliya Mustafina) as well as the defending Olympic champion, He Kexin," writes SI.com's Nick Zaccardi. "None of the aforementioned qualified on top, though. That distinction went to Beth Tweddle, Great Britain's best hope for its first women's gymnastics medal since the 1928 team competition."
Jacob Gibb and Seth Rosenthal are the lone American team remaining in the beach volleyball competition. They meet Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins of Latvia in quarterfinal action at 2 p.m.
The 17-year-old American boxer Claressa Shields, recently profiled by SI.com, fights today in the quarterfinals of the women's middleweight competition (bouts start at 8:30 a.m.). Women's flyweight and lightweight quarterfinals will also take place, as will the men's lightweight, middleweight, and super-heavyweight quarterfinals.
The U.S. men's water polo team has a difficult match against three-time defending Olympic champ Hungary (10:30 a.m.), the most dominant water polo program in the history of Olympic play. But Hungary has struggled in this tournament, beating Romania and Great Britain but losing a tight game to Serbia and Montenegro.
The men's 3-meter springboard preliminary in diving will be held, with China's He Chong and Qin Kai as the big favorites. Chris Colwill and Troy Dumais will compete for the U.S.
Men's handball finishes preliminary play at the Copper Box with six matches, including France-Sweden (4:15 p.m.).
Rowing will hand out medals in the men's sprint finals (12:43 p.m., 1:03 p.m., and 1:35 p.m.).
Women's field hockey has six matches, including U.S.-South Africa (5:45 a.m.). The U.S. is 2-2 in the competition, while South Africa has not won a match.
Sailing will award medals in the Laser Radial Women's Medal race (8 a.m.), where SI picks Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands, and the Laser Men's Race (9 a.m.), in which SI chooses Australia's Tom Slingsby.
There are two shooting medals today: the men's 50-meter rifle (8:45 a.m.) and men's trap finals (11 a.m.).
Synchronized swimming features the prelims in the duet free routine (10 a.m.).
Table tennis has one women's team semifinal, China-Korea (5 a.m.), and men's team semifinals action, including China-Hong Kong (9:30 a.m.)
The men's volleyball competition continues with the U.S. playing winless Tunisia (3 p.m.). The Americans are tied with Russia for the top spot in Group B.
Weightlifting will award a medal in the men's 105kg (231 pounds) competition (2 p.m.).
Medals will also be awarded in the men's 60kg (132 pounds), 84kg (185), and 120kg (264.5) weight classes of Greco-Roman wrestling. It's an all-day event starting at 8 a.m. American Dremiel Byers is a medal contender in the 120kg.
Action continues at Eton Dorney with kayak and canoe 500- and 1,000-meter heats and semifinals.
Equestrian will hand out a medal in the team jumping competition (9 a.m.).
"For me, it's been a great month. I won Wimbledon, became world No. 1 again, and I got silver. Don't feel too bad for me." -- Roger Federer, following his straight-sets loss to Andy Murray in the men's gold medal tennis match.
4.31 million: Number of passengers using the London Underground (Tube) last Thursday, the busiest day in the history of the network.
1,400: Amount, in pounds (or about $2,189), that Australian rower Josh Booth had to pay to replace some shop windows he broke while going out in Egham, Surrey, south of London.
4: Gold medals won by British sailor Ben Ainslie, the most gold medals all-time for an Olympic sailor.
1. Olympics for the Girls. How Team GB Fell in Love With Its Feminine Side, By Tim Lewis, The Observer. Women's sport has never had a higher profile in Britain.
2. The Military Precision Behind the Benny Hill Factor, By Robert Mendick, The Sunday Telegraph. It's party time at the Olympic venues.
3. Andy Murray Holds His Nerve to Win Olympic Gold Against Roger Federer, By Stephen Moss, The Guardian. Said the writer of Murray: He need never doubt himself again.