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Daily Briefing, Aug. 18


"They are not good friends (nor enemies, either), yet each understands the other better than any outsider could, sharing outsized talents and rare ambition. Both are at the Beijing Games fighting separately for the tiny and exclusive slice of fleeting fame awarded to the queen of Olympic track. They will be compared without facing off."

So wrote Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden of Sanya Richards and AllysonFelix, both of whom appear at the Bird's Nest on Tuesday.

• Richards will attempt to hold off Novlene Williams-Mills of Jamaica in the finals (10:10 a.m. ET Tuesday) of the women's 400. Valerie Brisco Hooks is the last American to win gold in the event. SI picks Richards for gold.

• Felix (SI's pick) takes to the track 12 hours earlier in the opening round of the women's 200. She runs her heat at 10 p.m. ET Monday night.

Other highlights:

• With Liu Xiang's stunning withdrawal in the 110-meter hurdles and TerrenceTrammell of the U.S. failing to qualify out of the opening round, Dayron Robles of Cuba should run away from the pack. His second round heat comes at 8:53 a.m. Americans David Payne (8:45 a.m.) and David Oliver (9:10 a.m.) will also be on the track.

• Along with Felix, Muna Lee is scheduled to run her 200 heat at 10:07 p.m. SI picks Veronica Campbell-Brown (10:28 p.m.) and Kerron Stewart (10: 21 p.m.) to win silver and bronze in the 200.

The men's 400 semifinals should be great theater. Defending champion JeremyWariner (9:45 a.m.), David Neville (9:52 a.m.) and LaShawn Merritt (9:59 a.m.) could sweep for the U.S.

• Usain Bolt heads a loaded 200 semifinal featuring the current 200 Olympic gold medalist Shawn Crawford and two-time World Outdoor medalist WallaceSpearmon. The heat goes off at 9:33 a.m. Walter Dix, who won the bronze in the 100, runs his semi at 9:25 a.m.

• Lolo Jones (SI's pick for gold) will run in the 100 women's hurdles final at 10:30 a.m., the last race on the track and field program Tuesday night in Beijing.

• AugustineChoge of Kenya heads the men's 1500 final (10:50 a.m.)

• Away from the track, beach volleyball queens Misty May-Treanor and KeriWalsh of the U.S. face Brazil's Renata Ribeiro and Talita Rocha in the semifinals (9 p.m.). The men's triathlon final begins at 10:00 p.m. Hunter Kemper, Matty Reed and Jarrod Shoemaker are the Americans to watch. SI's Brian Cazeneuve has Javier Gómez of Spain winning gold.

• The U.S. women's water polo team can advance to the gold-medal match with a win over Australia in the semis (2:20 a.m.). The rivalry has a history: The two teams have met in every Olympic Games in which women's water polo has been contested (2000, '04, '08). The U.S. lost the gold medal game to Australia in Sydney, but beat the Aussies in Athens to capture the bronze.

• Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin (the reigning world champion) are the favorites the women's balance beam finals (6:43 a.m.) Jonathan Horton represents the U.S. in the men's horizontal bar final (7:29 a.m.). The gymnastics individual competition concludes on Tuesday.

• Now it gets serious for the basketball teams: The U.S. women (5-0) meet South Korea (2-3) in the quarterfinals (8 a.m.) of the competition.

• China will have a pair of diving stars in the men's 3-meter springboard final (8:30 a.m.): Qin Kai (the '07 world champion) and He Chong (the '08 World Cup champion). Troy Dumais is the top American contender.

•The U.S. women's volleyball team was a force in pool play. Now comes the elimination round. They face Italy in the quarterfinals (10 a.m.) in an attempt to hit the medal stand for the first time since 1992.

Other finals include the men's freestyle wrestling 55g final (5:20 a.m.), men's Madison track cycling (5:30 a.m.), women's sprint track cycling (6:25 a.m.) and the individual dressage final in equestrian (7:15 a.m.)

"I've never used drugs, but you would have to be on a huge trip to experience this."-- Dutch hurdler Marcel van der Westen, on the atmosphere Monday at the Bird's Nest.

"I am going to get fat."-- Australian sailing team member Malcolm Page, asked what he would do after winning a gold medal in the men's 470 class two-person dinghy.

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

• Dick Friedman goes Peter King on us with his "Five Things I Think I Think," Olympic version. Among his notes are takes on Bolt, Dwyane Wade and Michael Phelps.

• "With one week now in the bag," writes Pablo S. Torre, "NBC has easily shattered records in advertising revenue (more than $1 billion) and ratings (according to Nielsen, more than half of all Americans tuned in since the opening ceremonies -- which itself garnered 35.7 million viewers)."

1. The real Olympics competition: Nike and Adidas claim China's heroes (by Tania Branigan, The Guardian): Is there anything more exciting than when billion-dollar global brands fight it out?

2. A crackdown on ticket scalpers (by Lin Yang, Our advice -- do not sell Olympic tickets for a profit in Beijing.

3. Softball belongs in the field of play (by Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post): Drug-free, fast-paced and deserving of a spot in the 2016 Games, says the Post writer.