SI's Daily Olympic Briefing: Aug. 11
Usain Bolt leads Jamaica in the men's 4x100 relay, London's track and field finale
U.S. women's basketball takes on France in the final and eyes its fifth straight gold
Brazil-Mexico meet in the men's soccer final; U.S.-Brazil face off for volleyball gold
LONDON -- In the final event of the track competition, in an Olympics in which he has soared to another stratosphere, Usain Bolt will run tonight (4 p.m.) as part of the Jamaican 4x100 relay team. "It now looms possible that it will be Bolt's final Olympic race, a signpost in the history of the sport, a brief moment worth witnessing and holding," writes SI.com's Tim Layden.
If this is the end of Bolt in the Olympics, savor the moment. Jamaica is favored in the event and the likelihood is that their star will run the anchor leg, which seems fitting. Bolt should end this Olympic track program because he has owned it.
The men's 4x100 relay is part of a busy day that includes the U.S. women's basketball team attempting to win its fifth consecutive Olympic title, and medals being handed out across London, including in boxing, canoe sprint, mountain bicycling, diving, rhythmic gymnastics, handball, field hockey, modern pentathlon, sailing, soccer, taekwondo, track and field, volleyball and wrestling.
The U.S. women's basketball team has won 40 consecutive games in Olympic competition and today's final against France (4 p.m.) is likely to be another coronation. The American women are unbeaten since the Atlanta Olympics and can win their fifth consecutive Olympics to extend their existing record of consecutive gold medals in women's basketball. "True, just getting to the final game is a big deal for the French, who've made only one previous Olympic field, in 2000, where they finished fifth," writes SI.com's Kelli Anderson. "Their women's basketball tradition has been spotty at best: though they have won two European championships, in 2001 and 2009, their best finish in the world championships was third-place -- in 1953. And unlike their American counterparts, who have methodically bulldozed their London opposition by an average of 34 points a game, the French have eeked out many of their wins, requiring overtime to beat Australia and winless Great Britain. On paper they don't look like they will present a significant challenge to the Americans. On Thursday, France coach Pierre Vincent went so far as to call the U.S. team "invincible." Earlier in the day, Australia plays Russia for the bronze medal at 12 p.m.
Every event tonight at Olympic Stadium is a medal event. The program starts with the men's 50km race walk (4 a.m.) where world champion Sergey Bakulin of Russia is SI's pick to win. Russia's Elmira Alembekova is the favorite to win the women's 20k race walk (12 p.m.). John Nunn will compete for the U.S. in the 50km while American Maria Michta will go in the 20k.
Russia's Anna Chicherova and Svetlana Shkolina are the favorites but Chaunte Lewis of the U.S. is a medal contender in the high jump (2 p.m.). Vitezslav Vesley of the Czech Republic is the one to beat in the men's javelin (2:20 p.m.). No Americans are in the event.
Great Britain will be riveted to the men's 5,000 (2:30 p.m.) as 10,000 gold medalist Mo Farah will attempt to pull off the amazing 5,000-10,000 double. Those who stand in his way include Djen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia. Three Americans will contend: Bernard Lagat, Lopez Lomong and Galen Rupp, the silver medalist in the 10,000.
Pamela Jelimo of Kenya and Caster Semenya of South Africa are SI's picks for gold and silver in the women's 800 (3 p.m.). Alysia Johnson Montano will run for the U.S.
The U.S. is the favorite in the women's 4x400 relay final (3:25 p.m.). The Americans won their relay heat on Friday night in 3:22.09, the fastest-ever relay heat at the Games. Russia was second at 3:23.11.
The men's 4x100 relay final (4 p.m.) sets up as another Bolt coronation as Superman and Yohan Blake are expected to run in the final. Jamaica ran a (37.39) on Friday night without Bolt. The U.S. had Justin Gatlin anchor an American-best preliminary heat (37.37) on Friday night. Tyson Gay and Robert Bailey are expected to run in the final. The world record is 37.04 and you get the sense it goes down tonight.
It's a rematch of the Beijing final and a meeting of the world's top- two-ranked teams as No. 1 United States meets No. 2 Brazil in the gold medal match for women's volleyball (1:30 p.m.). Four years ago, Brazil defeated the U.S. for its first gold medal in Olympic women's volleyball. The unbeaten U.S. team advanced to the final thanks to Destinee Hooker's 24 points against South Korea. Japan-Korea meet for the bronze medal (6:30 a.m.).
Both China's Qui Bo and Lin Yue are likely to hit the medal stand in the men's 10-meter platform final (3:30 p.m.), which would continue China's dominance in diving at these Games. The highest ranking American after the preliminaries was Nick McCrory while the top U.S. diver, David Boudia, also qualified for the semifinals. The top 18 divers compete in the morning semifinal, with the top 12 making the evening final.
The men's soccer gold medal match pits Brazil against Mexico at Wembley Stadium (10 a.m.). "Forget what you've heard about Olympic men's soccer not mattering much," writes SI.com's Grant Wahl. "That may be the case in Europe, but it most certainly is not in Brazil (which desperately wants to win its first soccer gold medal) and Mexico (where coverage of the soccer tournament has dominated that of any other sport during the Olympics). There's a lot at stake in this game: Brazil coach Mano Menezes, who is also the senior-team coach, may not keep his job if Brazil doesn't win the gold medal. For Mexico, too, there is the chance not just to make history but to also serve notice that the Mexicans are genuine contenders to make a deep run in World Cup 2014. Toss in a historic setting for the game -- Wembley Stadium with 88,088 fans -- and you have appointment viewing if you're a soccer fan."
Defending Olympic champ Yevgeniya Kanayeva is SI's pick for gold in individual all-around in rhythmic gymnastics (10:10 a.m.).
Men's boxing will hold gold medal bouts in light flyweight (3:30 p.m.), bantamweight (3:45), light welterweight (4:15 p.m.), middleweight (4:45 p.m.) and heavyweight (5:15 p.m.).
Germany plays the Netherlands in the finals of men's field hockey (3 p.m.). Australia-Great Britain will compete for the bronze (10:30 a.m.)
It's down to Norway and Montenegro in women's handball. The finals take place at the Basketball Arena (3:30 p.m.). The bronze medal match is between South Korea-Spain (12 p.m.)
Russia's Aleksander Lesun is SI's pick to win the men's combined event in modern pentathlon. His countryman Andrei Moiseev can claim his third successive gold with a win. The competition starts with fencing at 3:45 a.m.
The U.S. is SI's pick to win the Elliott 6-meter fixed keel match race in sailing (7 a.m.). U.S.'s Anna Tunnicliffe, a 2008 gold medalist, lived in England until age 12.
In taekwondo, the women's +67kg gold medal bout (5:15 p.m.) and the men's 80kg gold medal match (5:30 p.m.) will be held. Mexico's Maria del Rosario Espinoza looks to retain her gold medal at +67kg.
Wrestling hands out medals in the men's freestyle 60kg, men's freestyle 84kg and men's freestyle 120kg. Uzbekistan's Artur Taymazov is aiming to become the third man to win three consecutive gold medals in wrestling. The medal round matches will start at 12:45 p.m.
Medals will be handed out in the kayak single 200m men's final (4:30 a.m.); the canoe single 200 final (4:47 a.m.), the kayak single 200 women's final (5:14 a.m.), and the kayak double 200 men's final (5:41 a.m.). Great Britain's Ed McKeever has a great chance for gold in the kayak 200.
New Zealand's Sarah Walker is the favorite in the women's BMX cross-country event in cycling (7:30 a.m.)
"You know, to tell the truth, for me the meals in the UK are quite monotonous, so I wanted to eat something which is at least close to Hungarian dishes. And the closest thing was bread and butter." -- Hungarian canoe sprinter Attila Vajda, on the food at the London Games
110: Athletes at the London Games from Cuba
110: Athletes at the London Games from Croatia
109: Athletes at the London Games from Colombia
1. The View From Tehran: Team's Unprecedented Success A Big Positive Amid The Negatives, By Saeed Kamali Dehghan, The Guardian. London 2012 has been Iran's most successful Games ever.
2. Pele In Britain To Help Brazil Push For Elusive Gold, By Henry Winter. The Daily Telegraph. Pele picks up honors, and meets some British athletes
3. Next Time, Olympic Gold Will Be Mine, By Aaron Cook, The Daily Telegraph. The World's No. 1 taekwondo athletes reflects on missing the Games