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Daily Briefing, Aug. 16


Well, there's always 48 Hours Mystery on CBS, and ABC appears to be showing another can't-miss episode of Eli Stone. Of course, if you're reading this, it's a safe bet you'll be watching the Michael Phelps coronation. If Phelps and his teammates win the 4x100 medley relay (bet the house, the vacation house and all your other possessions on it), he will become the all-time leader in gold medals in a single games with eight. The scheduled time of the race is 10:58 p.m., the final event of the swimming program in Beijing. "The U.S. should win unless something goes wrong," says Sports Illustrated's Brian Cazeneuve. "But keep in mind that the last time they swam this event at a major competition -- the world championships in 2007 -- something went very wrong. The team was disqualified because of an illegal exchange. Barring that, I just don't think there is a team with four swimmers at the level of the U.S."

Earlier today, the USOC was kind enough to send a Phelps By The Numbers info sheet. Some highlights:

• His 13 gold medals are the most by any athlete in the history of the Olympics. Gymnast Larissa Latynina (who competed for the Soviet Union from 1956-1964) is second with nine.

• Phelps has 15 total Olympic medals (2004, 2008), including 13 gold and two bronzes. He is tied with Nikolai Andrianov (USSR) for the most medals all time by any male athlete.

• Phelps is the all-time leader in medals (15) by a U.S. athlete. Jenny Thompson (12) is second followed by Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi (11).

• Latynina is the all-time leader in Olympic medals with 18. Phelps is tied for second (15) with Andrianov.

• If not for Phelps, 41-year-old Dara Torres would be getting front-page play in the States. The Swimming Mom attempts to find the fountain of youth one last time in the 50 freestyle final (10:03 p.m.). Cate Campbell and Libby Trickett of Australia will contend with Torres, who swam the fastest time (24.27) in the semis. Later in the program, Torres will join Natalie Coughlin on the 4x100 medley relay (10:40 p.m.). Australia is the defending Olympic champion in the event. Grant Hackett of Australia is the favorite in the men's 1500 final (10:09 a.m.).

• The women's 100 final (10:30 a.m.) is anyone's race. Torrie Edwards and Lauryn Williams are the top contenders from the U.S. Cazeneuve picks Kerron Stewart of Jamaica to win the gold.

• China's Guo Jingjing looks for gold in the finals (8:30 a.m.) of the women's 3-meter springboard competition.

• The women's marathon (9:00 p.m.) has a loaded field including Gete Wami of Ethiopia. Catherine Ndereba of Keyna. Britian's Paula Radcliffe, Deena Kastor of the U.S. SI's pick? Zhou Chunxiu of China.

• Individual medals will be handed out in the men's pommel horse final (7:29 a.m.), women's vault final (6:43 a.m.), and women's floor exercise (8:15 a.m.). Shawn Johnson (floor exercise), Nastia Liukin (floor exercise) and Alica Sacramone (vault) will be in action.

• Olympic tennis comes to a close (save your tears, please) as an all-Russian women's final pits Elena Dementieva against Dinara Safina (2:00 a.m.). Rafael Nadal, who officially becomes No. 1 on Monday, is a heavy favorite against Fernando Gonzalez of Chile (2:30 a.m.)

• The U.S. softball team's looks to extend its Olympic winning streak to 20 against the Netherlands (7:30 a.m.) while the U.S. women's volleyball team should improve to 4-1 with a win over Poland (12:30 a.m.) in pool play.

• The women's 3000 steeplechase final (11:30 a.m.) features American record holder Jennifer Barringer and Olympic Trials champion Anna Willard. SI's pick is Yekaterina Volkova.

• Sanya Richards runs her women's 400 semifinals at 9:07 p.m. The men's 1500 semis (Bernard Lagat and Lopez Lomong are the ones to watch for the U.S.) begin at 9:55 p.m.

• Look for the U.S. women's basketball team (4-0) to roll over New Zealand in the final game of preliminary action (10:15 a.m.).

• U.S. welterweight Demetrius Andrade and heavyweight Deontay Wilder compete in quarterfinal competition. Andrade will face Korea's Jung Joo Kim (8:45 a.m.) while Wilder will box Morocco's Mohammed Arjaoui (9:30 a.m).

• Beach volleyball queens Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh face Ana Paula Connelly and Larissa Franca of Brazil in quarterfinal play (10:00 a.m.).

• Finally, the athletics program for the night concludes with the 10,000 men's final (10:45 a.m.). Kenenisa Bekele (who won this event in Athens) and Sileshi Sihine could go 1-2 for Ethiopia. Bekele is going for the 5,000-10,000 double.

"I couldn't telephone my parents because all the telephones are broken, but I did receive an SMS from my brother saying it is all okay. But I am not sure because he would not tell me if he was injured."-- German gymnast Anna Dogonadze, whose family lives in the country of Georgia. Dogonadaze is the defending Olympic trampoline champion.

"Handball has brought both happiness and misery to me -- that is sport."-- China team handball goalie Ye Quiang, after his team's 29-22 win over Brazil

SI staffers weigh in on the television coverage, hot stories and hot button issues surrounding the Games.

If Phelps wins, is he the greatest Olympian ever -- greater than, among others, Jesse Owens? Carl Lewis? Paavo Nurmi? That's the question on Dick Friedman's mind. Who'd get your vote?

1. This One Was Too Close Top Be Believed (By Bill Plaschke, The Los Angeles Times). From seventh place to seventh heaven.

2. Of Course We Cheer For The Flags On Their Back (By Dorothy Rabinowitz, Wall Street Journal). A Pulitzer Prize winner on the meaning of the Games.

3. Meet the most stressed table toppers in China. (By Lawrence Donegon, The Guardian). Welcome to China's national obsession.