Nadia. Mary Lou. Nastia. The women’s gymnastics individual all-around final has historically turned athletes into one-name sporting icons, and the title of Olympic darling gets awarded today (starts at 11:30 a.m.), with Americans Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman both contenders for the gold medal. Douglas, she of Flying Squirrel fame and winner of the U.S. Trials, was expected to be here. So was world champion Jordyn Wieber — but it was Raisman, once thought to be too weak on uneven bars to be a serious threat in the all-around, who delivered a life-changing performance last Sunday to earn a spot in today’s all-around. (Only two gymnasts per country can qualify for the all-around final.) “Even Raisman herself said she was stunned when it sunk in that she would be competing in the all-around final instead of Wieber, her close friend and roommate in the Olympic Village,” wrote SI.com’s Brian Cazeneuve. “She has a habit of not watching scores, hers or others, as she competes. ‘My first thought was about [Jordyn],’ she said. ‘I feel bad. It’s too bad it’s just top two. It’s too bad we can’t all be going.'”
The rest of the world will cede nothing, even though the U.S. captured this event in both Athens and Beijing. Russia’s Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina and China’s Yao Jinnan are also major contenders on a day that features medals in archery, cycling (track), canoe slalom, fencing, judo, rowing, shooting, swimming, and table tennis.
What to Watch (Times Eastern)
• Think about what Ryan Lochte has to do tonight. First, he’ll swim in the men’s 200 backstroke (2:48 p.m.), where he qualified second during his Wednesday-night swim behind fellow American Tyler Clary, who dominated his semifinal. Clary and Lochte should go gold-silver in some order. Lochte is the defending champion and can become the second swimmer to retain his gold medal in the event.
Less than an hour later (3:19 p.m.) and no doubt exhausted, Lochte will swim in the men’s 200 individual medley for his second and final head-to-head mega-showdown with Michael Phelps. Phelps is the two-time defending champion in the race, but finished second to Lochte in their semifinal heat. Laslo Cseh of Hungary will also be a factor. No male swimmer has ever won the same individual Olympic swimming event three times in a row. Phelps can do that tonight.
American Rebecca Soni set a world record in her semifinal and is a big favorite to win the women’s 200 breaststroke (2:40 p.m.).
The final swimming medal event is women’s 100 freestyle (3:37 p.m.), in which Ranomi Kromowidojo of the Netherlands and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden will be the favorites. Germany’s Britta Steffen is the defending Olympic champion.
• The U.S. men’s basketball team is back on the court against Nigeria (5:15 p.m.) for a game that should be a little closer than the blowout over Tunisia. Nigeria’s roster of American-born players (including Al-Farouq Aminu and Ike Diogu) will present a better test than Tunisia. Other games of note include Brazil-Russia (11:45 p.m.) and Spain-Great Britain (3 p.m.).
• Wimbledon features some terrific matches as the Olympic tennis tournament heads into the quarterfinals of the singles competition. Among the matchups (play starts at 7 a.m.): Serena Williams-Caroline Wozniacki, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga-Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer-John Isner, Kim Clijsters-Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray-Nicholas Almagro and Viktoria Azarenka-Angelique Kerber. Serena and Venus Williams will also compete in the quarterfinals of doubles, as will Americans Mike and Bob Bryan.
• The women’s individual gold medal match in archery (10:37 a.m.) will be held at Lord Cricket’s Ground. SI’s pick for gold is Ki Bo-bae of South Korea. Khatuna Lorig is the sole American archer remaining in individual match play. She meets China’s Cheng Ming at 4 a.m.
• The United States faces Brazil in men’s volleyball (3 p.m.), one of six matches including Serbia-Germany (4:30 a.m.) and Great Britain-Italy (5 p.m.).
• The U.S. men’s water polo team won’t have the crowd with them today: They play Great Britain at 1:20 p.m. But the match of the day is Serbia-Montenegro (9:10 a.m.), a rematch of the European championships.
• Unbeaten since 2006, the U.S. women’s rowing team is the favorite in the women’s eight final (7:30 a.m.). Denmark’s Eskild Ebbesen can win a fourth Olympic gold and/or a fifth Olympic medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
• Americans Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, the defending Olympic champs in men’s beach volleyball, meet Premysl Kubala and Petr Benes at 4 p.m. The women’s team of April Ross and Jennifer Kessy plays Marleen van Iersel and Sanne Keizer (11:30 a.m.).
• U.S. boxer Jose Ramirez fights Fazliddin Gaibnazarov of Uzbekistan in men’s lightweight Round of 16 action (3:30 p.m.). Boxing begins at 8:30 a.m. with men’s lightweight and men’s middleweight.
• The Hochschorner twins, Pavol and Peter, are SI’s pick to win the men’s canoe double (C2). The gold medal run begins at 10:18 a.m., and they are aiming for a fourth consecutive gold medal. The kayak (K1) women’s final will also be contested (10:57 a.m.).
• In track cycling, the women’s team sprint finals (12:59 p.m.) and men’s team sprint finals (1:15 p.m.) will be held today. SI tabs Australia to win both. Great Britain’s Chris Hoy can become the first rider to win five gold medals in this sport at the Olympic Games if he takes gold here. Australia’s Anna Meares can become the woman with the outright most Olympic medals in this sport if Australia medals.
• Individual and team dressage and horse jumping are on the card for equestrian. The competition begins at 6 a.m. Rafalca, part-owned by Ann Romney, the wife of U.S. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, will compete today under the ride of Jan Eberling.
• Table tennis will hold its men’s gold medal match (2:30 p.m.) as favorites Zhang Jike and Wang Hao of China have both advanced to the semifinals and will likely meet for the gold. Wang can become the first athlete to win three medals in the men’s singles event.
• Italy is SI’s pick to win the women’s team foil (10 a.m.). Italian Valentina Vezzali can win a record-tying third gold medal in women’s team foil. • There are six men’s team handball preliminary games, including rivals Great Britain and Argentina, who face off at 11:15 a.m.
• The United States meets Australia in women’s field hockey (5:45 p.m.), one of six women’s field hockey games on the schedule.
• Judo hands out medals in the women’s 78 kg (11 a.m.) and men’s 100 kg (11:10 a.m.).
• Shooting hands out a medal in the double trap men’s final shooting (10 a.m.).
• Badminton will hold Round of 16 singles matches (4 a.m.) and quarterfinal matches in mixed doubles.
By the Numbers
• 550: Rowing athletes at the Games.
• 16: U.S. athletes who speak Italian, including Kobe Bryant.
• 7: Olympic medals for Bradley Wiggins (four golds, a silver, and two bronzes), one more than rowing great Steve Redgrave, which makes Wiggins the most decorated Olympian from Great Britain.
Quote of the Day
“Well, I’m in the semis. Other than that it felt sh–.” — British swimmer Fran Halsall on her 100-meter freestyle morning heat.