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SI's Daily Olympic Briefing: Aug. 9

LONDON -- He has changed our perception of what is possible, and today Usain Bolt can become the first man in history to win the Olympic 100 and 200 meters in consecutive Games. Do not bet against Superman. Bolt's main competition for the men's 200 final (3:55 p.m.) will be his countryman Yohan Blake, but as SI.com's Tim Layden predicts on SI.com, only history will run with Bolt tonight. "Whether Blake can beat Bolt, or even push him toward the Olympic record of 19.30 (or the world record), the two of them are likely to be far ahead of a field that includes world championship bronze medalist Christophe Lemaitre of France (personal best of 19.80) and Wallace Spearmon of the U.S., who is the seventh-fastest man in history with a time of 19.65, but hasn't run that fast since 2006 and has a season's best of 19.95," says Layden. "They will both chase Blake, who will chase Bolt and, unlike in Kingston, not catch him. A world record would be surprising, but not shocking. An Olympic record would be no surprise at all."

The men's 200 is the global highlight of a mega-day in London, especially for U.S. fans. Across the city, American teams can win gold, including a rematch of the most recent Women's World Cup final (Japan-U.S.) and the U.S. women's water polo team taking on Spain. Medals will also be awarded in boxing, canoe sprint, diving, sailing, swimming, taekwondo, and wrestling.

The U.S. and Japan play for gold in the women's soccer final (2:45 p.m.) at Wembley Stadium, a fantastic conclusion to a thrilling tournament. Writes SI.com's Grant Wahl: "For all of the U.S. players, the ideal finale for the Olympics was the same: To reach the gold medal game against Japan and to win it. The chance to exact revenge in a world championship final so soon after losing a world championship final doesn't come around very often. And so you will see a clean, well-played game on Thursday, with the Japanese employing their short-passing attack and the U.S. seeking to maximize its talented forward tandem of Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan. In short, you will see two teams that have full respect for each other, with no desire to resort to some of the Hunger Games tactics we've seen in this Olympic tournament." Canada and France meet in the bronze medal match at 8 a.m.

Along with another chance to see Mr. Bolt work his magic, the final five events (110 hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500) of the decathlon will be contested. The event closes with the 1,500 (4:20 p.m.) and world record holder Ashton Eaton of the U.S. leads after the first day with 4,661 points. Fellow American Trey Hardee is second at 4,441. It's shaping up as a dream result for the U.S.

Christian Taylor of the U.S. is the favorite in the men's triple jump final (2:20 p.m.). American Will Claye is also a medal contender. Taylor posted the best result in qualifying with a 17.21-meter jump.

One of the world's great runners and a favorite of European track fans -- David Rushida of Kenya -- is the favorite in the men's 800 final (3 p.m.). Rushida's father, Daniel, won silver in the 4x400 relay in 1968. Americans Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds advanced to the final

SI's pick for the women's javelin final (4 p.m.) is Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic. Russia's Maria Abakumova is also a medal contender.

Prelims include women's high jump qualifying (4:30 a.m.), men's 4x400 relay opening round (6:35 a.m.) and women's 4x100 relay round (3:20 p.m.). The last time the U.S. won a medal other than gold in the 4x400 relay was silver in 1952. Since then, the U.S. has won 11 golds.

After two successive silver medal finishes, the U.S. women's water polo team gets another chance for gold today against Spain in the gold medal match (3 p.m.). The teams tied 9-9 in the prelim round. The bronze medal match between Australia-Hungary takes place at 1:40 p.m.

History always seems to find the U.S. and Australia in women's basketball and today (Noon) the longtime rivals play in the semifinals. Russia and France will compete in the other semi (4 p.m.). "Thanks to Australia's overtime loss to France in pool play, the Opals get the USA one round early," writes SI.com's Kelli Anderson. "The path to gold will be no easier through this route: Even without an offense that runs smoothly every night -- the US is making just 29 percent of its three-point shots -- the US looks as dominant as it was in 2008. Through six games, the Americans have held opponents to 32 percent shooting while beating them by 37.7 points a game, which is slightly better than the margin record the US set in Beijing."

Three gold medals will be awarded in boxing, including the women's fly (11:30 a.m.), women's lightweight (11:45 a.m.) and women's middleweight (12:15 p.m.). U.S. middleweight Claressa Shields -- she's just 17 -- will face Russia's Nadezda Torlopova at 12:15 p.m. in the gold medal match. Nicola Adams of Great Britain fights China's Cancan Ren in the women's flyweight gold medal match.

Brazil's Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego meet Germany's Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann in the men's beach volleyball gold medal match (4 p.m.) The bronze medal match features Latvia's Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins against Reinder Nummerdor and Rich Schuil of the Netherlands at 2:00 p.m.

The U.S. has reached the semifinals of women's volleyball and will play South Korea at 10:00 a.m. Brazil and Japan meet in the other semifinal at 2:30 p.m.

Equestrian comes to a close as gold will be awarded in the dressage individual Grand Prix freestyle. U.S. rider Steffen Peters will compete on Ravel. The competition begins at 7:30 a.m.

Women's handball semifinals will be played as Norway meets Korea (12:00 p.m.) and Serbia faces Montenegro (3:30 p.m.).

Terrence Jennings of the U.S. fights Servet Tazegul of Turkey in men's 68kg preliminary action (4:15 a.m.) of taekwondo. In women's 57kg competition, Diana Lopez of the U.S. meets China's Yuzhuo Hou at 7:30 a.m. Taekwondo is a one-day event with the women's 57kg gold medal match set for 5:15 p.m. and the men's 68kg gold medal match going at 5:35 p.m.

Men's field hockey will play its semifinal matches at 10:30 a.m. (Australia-Germany) and 3:00 p.m. (Netherlands-Great Britain).

Australia's Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page are SI's pick to win the 470 men's medal race in sailing (8:00 a.m.).

Swimming returns to the Olympics with the open water women's 10K (7:00 a.m.). SI's pick for gold is Great Britain's Keri-Anne Payne.

Women's wrestling medals in the 55kg and 72kg will be awarded. The final bouts start shortly after 5:45 p.m.

Medals will be awarded in the canoe double 1000m men's final (4:30 a.m.), kayak four 1000m men's final (4:48 a.m.), kayak single women's 500m final (5:08 a.m.) and kayak double women's 500 final (5:35 a.m.).

Men's quarterfinal BMX runs begin at 10:00 a.m. Connor Fields of the U.S. had the fourth fastest time among the 32 entrants in the seeding runs.

The women's 10-meter platform diving semifinals (5:00 a.m.) and finals (2:00 p.m.) will be held. U.S. divers Katie Bell and Brittany Viola advanced to the semifinals. The top 12 divers will move on to the finals.

The individual and group qualifying in rhythmic gymnastics will begin at 7:00 a.m. today.

"I have been dubbed the girl who puts the glamour into hammer." -- Great Britain hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon, who broke the British record in qualifying on Wednesday.

621: Soccer players who have competed at the London Games

11: Medals won by the United States on Day 12, including four golds.

5: Olympic medals in table tennis for China's Wang Hao, the first to win five medals in the sport.

A man with five gold medals praises a man with six.

Germany is losing at these Games and the Land of Merkel is not happy.

Is there scientific truth to the urban legend in track circles that women get stronger as athletes after they have had children?

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