SI's Daily Olympic Briefing: Aug. 3
Missy Franklin and Elisabeth Beisel are the favorites in the 200 backstroke final
Track and field gets started, with finals in the men's shot and women's 10,000m
A virtual who's who of tennis will take part in the Olympic semifinals at Wimbledon
LONDON -- It's impossible not to like Missy Franklin. At 17, she's poised, thoughtful and her unrelenting cheerfulness matches her prodigious talent. She's also blessed with speed, a Phelpsian nickname (The Missile), and a chance to make more history today: The Missile has already won gold in the 100 backstroke and 4x200 freestyle relay and is the favorite for the 200 backstroke, which takes place at 2:30 p.m. It's one of the signature events on a day that includes medals in archery, athletics (track and field), badminton, cycling (track), fencing, judo, rowing, shooting, swimming, trampoline and weightlifting.
Franklin will be flying in the women's 200 backstroke, as will fellow American Elisabeth Beisel. They each easily won their semifinal, and Beisel qualified with the fastest time. That race is followed by Michael Phelps swimming his last individual Olympic race. He'll be favorite in the 100 butterfly (2:38 p.m.), the race Phelps beat Milorad Cavic of Serbia by .01 of a second in Beijing. Cavic and South Africa's Chad le Clos will be chasing Phelps. If Phelps wins, it would be overall medal No. 21 and his 17th gold.
Rebecca Adlington is Great Britain's most famous swimmer and all eyes will be on her for the 800 women's free (2:45 p.m.). In Beijing, Adlington won this race and is the favorite once again. Don't blink or you might miss the men's 50 free (3:09 p.m.) where Brazil's Cesar Cielo and Bruno Fratus, along with Americans Cullen Jones and Anthony Ervin are the contenders.
In the early swimming session (starts at 5 a.m.), heats will be held in the women's 50 free (5 a.m.), men's 1500 free (5:24 a.m.), women's 4x100 medley relay (6:35 a.m.) and men's 4x100 medley relay (6:49 a.m.).
Athletics (better known to most as track and field) begin today at Olympic Stadium. There are two finals, including the men's shot put (3:30 p.m.) -- SI's pick to win is Reese Hoffa of the U.S. -- and the women's 10,000 (4:25 p.m.), which features the great Ethiopian runner, Tirunesh Dibaba, who doubled in Beijing in both the 5,000 and 10,000. An Ethiopian runner has won this event three of the six times it has been held. Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot, who has the best time in the world this year, is also a major threat.
Preliminary heats will be held in multiple events, including women's triple jump, women's 100, women's discus, women's 400, men's 400 hurdles, men's hammer throw, men's 3000 steeplechase, men's long jump, and men's 1,500. (The track program begins at 5 a.m.). The American to watch is Carmelita Jeter, the top U.S. sprinter in the 100. (Round one heats in the women's 100 begin at 2:05 p.m.). Great Britain will be focused heavily on the heptathlon (the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200 of the heptathlon will be held today) as Jessica Ennis, one of the poster athletes of these Games for the home country, battles Russia world champion Tatyana Chernova.
Wimbledon has entered the semifinals stage in singles and Centre Court has some delicious matches. The schedule on the main court, beginning at 7 a.m.: Roger Federer (SUI)-Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) followed by Victoria Azarenka (BLR)- Serena Williams (USA), Andy Murray (GBR)-Novak Djokovic (SRB) and a women's doubles match between Maria Kirilenko/Nadia Petrova and Venus and Serena Williams (U.S.). Maria Sharapova (RUS) plays Kirilenko on Court 1 in the other women's semi early in the day.
Archery will award medals in the men's individual competition (The gold medal match begins at 10:37 a.m.).
Badminton attempts to move beyond its controversy with the mixed doubles gold medal match (10 a.m.).
The undefeated United States women's basketball team (3-0) returns to action against Czech Republic (5:15 p.m.), one of the six women's basketball games, including Russia-Australia (6:15 a.m.) and Brazil-Canada (9:30 a.m.).
Beach volleyball moves into the Round of 16 in both men's and women's action.
Boxing has men's flyweight action (beginning at 8:30 a.m.) featuring American Rau'shee Warren against France's Nordine Oubaali. American Errol Spence also fights in the men's welterweight class against Krishan Vikas of Indonesia (3:30 p.m.).
In cycling, Great Britain will be keen on the men's team Pursuit final (12:59 p.m.) as the team of Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh, Steven Burke and Geraint Thomas looks to win gold. Australia is the big rival. The Women's Keiren finals starts at 1:38 p.m.
The women's 3-meter springboard preliminary in diving begins at 9:30 a.m. China's He Zi and Wu Minxia are the heavy favorites.
Equestrian features individual and team Dressage beginning at 6 a.m.
Russia is SI's pick for the men's sabre team finals (9:30 a.m.). The U.S. took a surprise silver in Beijing.
The quarterfinals of women's soccer features the U.S. meeting New Zealand at St. James Park. The other matches are Sweden-France (7 a.m.), Brazil-Japan (12 p.m.) and Great Britain-Canada (2:30 p.m.). "On paper, the four most-talented remaining teams other than the U.S. are all on the other side of the bracket," writes SI.com's Grant Wahl. "That's not to knock Great Britain, which played well and thrived on vocal home support in beating Brazil 1-0 to win their group. But it's fair to say that the U.S. now has no business not reaching the final. How great would it be if we end up seeing a U.S.-Britain semifinal at Manchester United's Old Trafford -- which you'd think would have a chance of selling out for the occasion?"
There are six handball matches on the card today, including Denmark-Norway (4:15 p.m.).
Men's field hockey continues pool play with six matches (Play starts at 3:30 a.m.)
Judo hands out gold medals in the women's 78+ kg (11 a.m.) and men's 100 kg (11:10 a.m.).
It's a monster day in rowing, including four finals: the men's single sculls (4:30 a.m.); men's quadruple sculls (5:10 a.m.); men's pairs final (5:20 a.m.) and women's doubles sculls final (5:30 a.m.). Great Britain's Katherine Granger and Anna Watkins are major threats in the women's doubles. New Zealand's three-times world champions Eric Murray and Hamish Bond are the favorites for gold in the men's pair event.
Medals in shooting will be awarded in the 50-meter rifle prone men's finals (7 a.m.) and 25-meter rapid fire pistol men's finals (9:30 a.m.)
The team competition begins in men's and women's table tennis, including U.S.-Japan (5 a.m.).
There are six women's volleyball matches scheduled, including U.S.-Serbia (3 p.m.) and Brazil-China (4:30 a.m.).
The U.S. women's water polo team meets China as Group A preliminary round play continues at the Water Polo Arena (2:40 p.m.).
China's Dong Dong (and, no, that's not a misprint) is the heavy favorite for the men's final in trampoline at North Greenwich Arena (Competition starts at 9 a.m.)
Gold will be handed out in weightlifting in both women's 75 kg (10:30 a.m.) and men's 85 kg (2 p.m.). China's Lu Yong, the defending champion in the 85 kg, is expected to repeat.
"They picked me for doping test. They simply cannot believe that such a great body can be built without any banned stuff." -- Three-time Olympic champion water polo player Zoltan Szecsi of Hungary, on doping.
2,500 -- Dollar amount, in pounds, a Lithuanian man was fined for giving a Nazi salute during an Olympic basketball game between Nigeria and Lithuania.
71 -- Age of Japanese equestrian rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, the oldest competitor at the London Games
20 -- Career Olympic medals for Michael Phelps, including 16 golds.
1. A World Away From The War Raging Back Home (By Robert Mendick and Gareth A Davies, The Daily Telegraph) From the authors: "Their country may be gripped by a brutal civil war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives but Syria's athletes -- representing the Assad regime -- are determined to enjoy their time in London."
2. Olympic gymnastics: As sport evolves, the joy is harder to spot (By Liz Clarke, The Washington Post) Is there any joy left in Gymnasticsville?
3. London 2012 Olympics in photos (By The Big Picture, Boston Globe) The photo editors at the Big Picture blog gave curated a great selection of photos from the Games.