Day 7: Michael Phelps, tennis semifinals, women’s soccer

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On Day 7, Michael Phelps swims the 100-meter butterfly, the final individual event of his remarkable Olympic career. Bethesda’s Katie Ledecky, 15, is in the women’s 800 freestyle final. The U.S. women’s soccer team faces New Zealand in the quarterfinals, and several big names compete in the tennis semifinals at Wimbledon. Track and field events also begin.

What else should you be watching? Consult today’s viewer guide here.

Miss anything? Read past live blogs: Opening Ceremonies | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6

Join in the conversation.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3 (DAY 7)

NBC

10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Track and field – qualifying heats include the women’s 400-meter dash (10 a.m., 11:30 a.m.)
Rowing – gold medal finals in men’s pair, single and quadruple sculls and women’s double sculls (10:30 a.m., 3:45 p.m.)
Swimming – qualifying heats include men’s and women’s 4×100 medley relays, men’s 1,500-meter freestyle and women’s 50-meter freestyle (10:45 a.m., 2 p.m.)
Beach volleyball – two round-of-16 elimination matches (Live, noon)
Women’s water polo – United States vs. China (live, 2:30 p.m.)
Track and field – women’s 10,000-meter gold medal final (live, 4:25 p.m.)
8 p.m. – midnight
Swimming – gold medal finals include Michael Phelps in the men’s 100-meter butterfly, men’s 50-meter freestyle, women’s 200-meter backstroke and Bethesda’s Katie Ledecky in the women’s 800-meter freestyle
Track and field – opening night of competition includes the men’s shot put gold medal final
Women’s diving – springboard qualifying
Women’s volleyball – United States vs. Serbia
Men’s trampoline – gold medal final
12:35 a.m. – 1:35 a.m.
Track and field – women’s discus qualifying and Day 1 of the heptathlon
Cycling – track gold medal finals

NBC Sports Network

4 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Women’s beach volleyball – round-of-16 elimination matches (live, 4 a.m., 6:30 a.m.)
Women’s volleyball – Brazil vs. China (live, 5 a.m.)
Women’s soccer – Sweden vs. France (live, 7 a.m.)
Men’s shooting – 50-meter prone rifle gold medal final (9 a.m.)
Women’s soccer – United States vs. New Zealand (live, 9:30 a.m.)
Men’s archery – individual gold medal final (11:15 a.m.)
Women’s soccer – Brazil vs. Japan (live, noon)
Men’s shooting – 25-meter rapid fire pistol gold medal final (1:45 p.m.)
Men’s boxing – flyweight and welterweight round-of-16 elimination bouts (2 p.m., 4:15 p.m.)
Women’s soccer – Britain vs. Canada (2:30 p.m.)
Women’s basketball – United States vs. Czech Republic (live, 5 p.m.)

MSNBC

9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Men’s gymnastics – trampoline qualifications (live, 9 a.m.), final (10 a.m.)
Women’s water polo – Russia vs. Australia (live, 10:30 a.m.), Spain vs. Hungary (11:30 a.m.)
Equestrian – team dressage qualifying (12:30 p.m.)
Women’s badminton – a singles semifinal (1:30 p.m.)
Women’s weightlifting – 75-kg gold medal final (2 p.m.)
Men’s badminton – a singles semifinal (2:30 p.m.)
Men’s weightlifting – 85-kg gold medal final (live, 3 p.m.)
Badminton – mixed doubles gold medal final (3:45 p.m.)
Women’s handball – Denmark vs. Norway (live, 4:15 p.m.)

CNBC

5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Men’s boxing – flyweight and welterweight round-of-16 elimination bouts

Bravo

7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Tennis – Men’s and women’s singles and doubles semifinals, mixed doubles quarterfinals (live)

NBC Olympic Basketball Channel

7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Women’s basketball:
Angola vs. Croatia (live, 4 a.m.)
Russia vs. Australia (live, 6:15 a.m.)
Brazil vs. Canada (live, 9:30 a.m., replay, 1:30 p.m.)
Turkey vs. China (live, 11:45 a.m.)
France vs. Britain (live, 3 p.m.)
United States vs. Czech Republic (live, 5:15 p.m.)

Telemundo

9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Packaged Spanish-language coverage includes swimming, track and field, volleyball, tennis and boxing.

A Moon Over London

Hopefully the second day of track and field will bring some more exciting moments than what we got to witness tonight. In the mean time, here’s an appropriate photograph for our sign off. Cheers.

Katie Ledecky's classmates were very happy

I was at Katie Ledecky’s school in Maryland — watching with more than 300 classmates and friends and alums and parents — when she won the gold. It was quite a scene. She is, by all accounts, well liked, humble, and devoted to her sport and her friends and her school.

And remember: She’s only 15.

We will be seeing her in the pool for a very long time.

Here’s more.

Kevin Durant is having a great Olympics

Kevin Durant scored 22 points, helping the United States drop France in its Olympic opener.

First, Kevin Durant blessed us will something I like to call the #KDshimmy after a Russell Westbrook dunk. Then, it turns out that he was cheering on Michael Phelps, live at the pool, with his Oklahoma City Thunder and USA basketball teammate James Harden Friday night.

The D.C. native knows how to dance and he supports his fellow countrymen in the flesh? He might be my favorite athlete of the games, so far.

Phelps: The King

Okay, so that was exciting. I mean, does anyone like Michael Phelps pull off these incredible wins? He was seventh at the turn. And he won.

This was his last individual race. He is without a doubt one of the best athletes of my lifetime — or any lifetime.

It hasn’t hit him yet that he is essentially done.

“I thought it would hit me a lot harder than what it is right now,” Phelps said in my colleague Amy Shipley’s story. “A lot of those emotions really haven’t come through my brain this meet . . . I think I’m just kind of in meet mode.”

And when he’s in meet mode, he often wins. Still. Just ask Serbian Milorad Cavic, who was in first at the turn.

“I cannot believe Phelps,” Cavic said. “I’m a one-trick pony and he’s the king.”

 

A bracket approach to the Olympics

Missy Franklin won gold in her first individual final at the London Games.

One of the best parts of watching CBS unveil its brackets for the men’s NCAA basketball tournament is seeing the teams react to their names appearing on-screen. NBC should take a page out of that book for the Olympics.

Can you imagine watching the reaction of a hometown crowd while an American wins a gold, or even breaks a world record? Not everyone’s parents can make it to games, and we all know that hometowns really get on board when one of their athletes is competing.

Missy Franklin set a world record today, and in a couple weeks she has to go back to high school. I imagine a few of her classmates are probably eagerly watching tonight.

How cool would it be to see that? The responses of those that attend are great, but to see the support system back home cheer for a friend would be a real treat.

*UPDATE* reader ~megs tells me that they did show Franklin’s high school earlier this week, but I still contend that such a feature should be a more regular part of NBC’s broadcasts.

Boring?

Is it me or this, so far, a truly boring night of Olympics coverage?

I understand it is Friday night and people are probably out seeing the movie “Ted” for the second or third time — I would were I not blogging — but tonight seems quite slow. With more volleyball (all apologies to volleyball), and with more filler (all apologies to NBC’s filler producers), this night feels like a dud.

Here is what my wife just told me: “You might have gotten the most boring night of the Olympics to blog.”

Yes, honey.

Wu Minxia's family sacrifice

Although the diving competition has been on for nearly a half an hour, NBC just got around to mentioning the story of Wu Minxia. The broadcasters referenced a report that surfaced recently about the Chinese diver’s family, about which she was basically kept in the dark while she trained.

The announcers glossed over it, seemingly not to ruin an otherwise benign show, but the details are scary at best. Minxia’s father admitted that he had hidden news of his wife’s illness from his daughter as well as the death of Wu’s grandparents.

The story has sparked a lot of criticism over the country’s unbending desire for gold medals. The quote at the end of the story is borderline chilling.

“We’ve known for years that our daughter doesn’t belong to us any more,” the father said.

 

What do you think? Based on what I’ve posted tonight, do you think the price of gold is too high in the Olympics?

How #NBCFail = booming ratings

The #NBCFail hashtag on Twitter has gotten some good play on this blog and throughout the mainstream media. I’ve been thinking about it all week, especially after my mom and wife — both big Olympics fans –had heard not a word about the controversy, especially the tape-delayed complaints.

I have a piece running this Sunday in the Outlook section looking at how all the #NBCFail rumbling could coincide with ratings and ad revenue that NBC executives are quite happy about. So how did that happen? Here is a simple fact: Only 8 percent of people regularly use Twitter. But journalists are increasingly relying on their Twitter feeds to drive story coverage.

We are not as connected as we think.

You can read the piece here.

Women's non-beach volleyball gets no love

Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor

While viewers gawk over bikinis in the sand (admit it, that’s why you clicked this) at the Olympics, the women’s indoor game gets short shrift. I came to appreciate the game covering it back in college, when the only people playing on the beach were coeds drinking beer as part of the fun.

But there’s an argument that women’s volleyball is the best form of the sport you can get. Unlike the men’s game, not everyone is just blasting the ball all over the court with undiggable spikes. And the athleticism is tremendous, to say the least.

In addition, the American team is quite good. With their win over Serbia, they clinched the top spot in their group. And although they may not be showing as much skin, their uniforms are pretty cool if you ask me. If you like volleyball, as in, the actual sport, the U.S. women’s team is a good bet.

Dominique Moceanu's Olympic memory scarred

U.S. gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Alexandra Raisman, Gabrielle Douglas and Jordyn Wieber display their gold medals

If you’re wondering why in a story that focuses on the Magnificent 7, who won the first ever team gold medal for the United States in Atlanta before the women did it again earlier this week, one of the most important characters was a bit understated, there’s a reason.

While NBC aired a story about Kerri Strug, who courageously vaulted her team to gold, Dominique Moceanu, a breakout star of the games, offered a peek into a major backstory.  She mentioned that at the time, although they weren’t friends, they needed each other and pushed each other.

They needed each other because at such a young age, their demanding coach Béla Karolyi was admittedly hard to deal with. Strug chalked it up to him simply being a master motivator, but Moceanu told it differently to Deadspin yesterday.

So as you watch Karolyi and other members of that team talk about the glory of gold, don’t forget about Moceanu. Her experience left her relatively scarred and though she walked away with a medal, she learned a lot about what the Olympic spirit really meant.

Gabby Douglas's last name spells 'USA Gold'

Gabby Douglas waves to the crowd after accepting her gold medal for the women's gymnastics all-around on Thursday. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Some people are born winners. Seriously, just look at Gabby Douglas’s last name.

If you rearrange “Douglas,” you get “USA Gold.”

Men’s Humor gets credit for spreading word of the oracle-like anagram. Their tweet about Douglas’s name garnered more than 10,000 retweets.

Using the hashtag #MyNameRearranged, we asked readers to share the words and phrases that emerge when you reshuffle the letters in their names.

U.S. women's basketball downs Czech Republic, 88-61

Diana Taurasi (center) huddles with teammates during their game against the Czech Republic. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

A close game through one quarter quickly turned into another rout for the U.S. women’s basketball team. The Americans beat the Czech Republic, 88-61, to remain undefeated atop Group A. Diana Taurasi scored 18 points to lead the U.S.; Tina Charles finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Maya Moore added 14 points.

The U.S. has one more preliminary round game remaining, against China (3-1) on Sunday.

U.S. women's basketball in control vs. Czech Republic

The U.S. women’s basketball team is now running away from the Czech Republic. Through three quarters, the Americans lead, 70-47 — and after allowing 26 points to the Czechs in the first period, the U.S. has given up just 21 points since.

The best photos from today's competition

olympic mascots

 

GALLERY: Click on the image above to see some of the photos from today at the Olympics.

U.S. women's basketball leads at halftime

The U.S. women’s basketball team regained control of its preliminary round Group A game against the Czech Republic, and is leading 48-38 at halftime. The Americans clamped down defensively, particularly around the three-point arc. The Czechs, who made 6 of 11 three-pointers in the first quarter in opening up a 28-26 lead, missed all four three-pointers they attempted in the second period.

Tina Charles leads the Americans with 12 points, Diana Taurasi has nine and Maya Moore has seven.

U.S. women's basketball trails Czech Republic

One day after the U.S. men’s basketball dispatched Nigeria in spectacular fashion, the U.S. women are having a more difficult time with the Czech Republic. The Americans trailed, 26-24, after the first quarter to a Czech team that has losses to China and Turkey.

The U.S. team shot only 32 percent from the floor in the first quarter.

Still, as Doug Feinberg — the national women’s basketball writer for the Associated Press — pointed out on Twitter:

The scene in Bethesda as Ledecky wins gold

Katie Ledecky poses with her gold medal. (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)

Mike Rosenwald watched Katie Ledecky’s remarkable gold medal-winning swim in the 800 freestyle at her high school, Stone Ridge in Bethesda. He describes the scene like this:

When Katie hit the first turn in first, the crowd went berserk. There were lots of oh my Gods, perfectly fitting for their packed gathering spot at the school — Sister Irene Good Hall. Before the race, they had prayed, a solemn but uplifting moment that ended with, “Go Katie!”

Read the rest of the story here.

Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba repeats as women's 10K champ

Tirunesh Dibaba celebrates as she crosses the finish line of the women's 10,000 meters. (Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba took control of the women’s 10,000 meters about 600 meters before the finish, and then used her final lap to sprint as if she were running a 40-yard dash — blazing down the backstretch to a deafening crowd at Olympic Stadium — to capture her second straight gold medal in the event.

The four-women race was whittled to three with about three laps to go as Kenya’s Sally Jepkosgei Kipyego and Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot began to set the pace and Dibaba lurked quietly behind. She made her move on the second to last lap, using the curve with 600 meters left to sprint in front of the Kenyans.

From there, Dibaba impossibly went into another gear — taking off on the final lap to finish in 30 minutes 20.75 seconds. Kipyego won silver in 30:26.37 and Cheruiyot won the bronze in 30:30.44.

Americans Amy Hastings (31:10.69), Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (31:12.68) and Lisa Uhl (31:12.80) finished 11th, 12th and 13th, respectively — all personal best times for U.S. women.

Hastings was trying to keep up with the stronger Kenyan and Ethiopian runners, but fell back as the African women pushed a more demanding pace.

U.S. beats Serbia in women's volleyball

Destinee Hooker had 12 kills as the U.S. swept aside Serbia, 25-17, 25-20, 25-16 to clinch the top spot in Group B with one match to play. The U.S., which has dropped just two sets so far in London, is 4-0 and has one preliminary round match remaining, against Turkey on Sunday.

The top four teams in each pool advance to the knockout round, which begins on Tuesday.

Final two American boxers eliminated

France's Nordine Oubaali and American Rau'shee Warren (right) react after their flyweight bout. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Rau’shee Warren and Errol Spence lost their respective round of 16 boxing matches today, leaving the Americans without any boxers left in the competition.

Warren fell to France’s Nordine Oubaali by a 19-18 decision in the flyweight competition. Warren became the first U.S. boxer to compete in three Olympics; he lost his first bout in each of them.

Spence lost to India’s Krishan Vikas by a 13-11 decision.

The nine-man U.S. boxing team lost its last nine bouts. This week both Mike Wise and Rick Maese wrote about the problems facing American amateur boxing.

Hoffa wins bronze in shot put; Cantwell fourth

Reese Hoffa wins the bronze medal in the shot put. (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Reese Hoffa fouled on his sixth and final attempt in the shot put ring at the Olympic Stadium, but his throw of 21.23 meters was enough to secure his first Olympic medal, a bronze.

Christian Cantwell finished fourth, just four centimeters behind Hoffa and out of a medal.

Poland’s Tomasz Majewski became the first repeat gold medalist in shot since Perry O’Brien in 1956. His throw of 21.89 meters on his last attempt sewed up the contest. Germany’s David Storl took the silver with a throw of 21.86.

Hoffa, Cantwell in battle for bronze shot put medal

America’s two shot-put hopefuls, Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell, are vying for a bronze medal. With one throw remaining for each athlete, Hoffa (21.23 meters) led Cantwell (20.95) and Canada’s Dylan Armstrong (20.93) for the bronze medal.

Defending gold medalist Tomasz Majewski is leading the competition with a throw of 21.87 meters on his third attempt. Germany’s David Storl is in second, just behind Majewski at 21.86 meters on his second throw.

(One meter equals 3.281 feet.)

Canada tops Britain, will face U.S. in women's soccer

Christine Sinclair celebrates her goal against Britain. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Jonelle Filigno and Christine Sinclair, a former University of Portland standout, scored first-half goals to lead Canada past Britain, 2-0, in a women’s soccer quarterfinal at City of Coventry Stadium. Canada will meet the U.S., which beat New Zealand 2-0, in the semifinals on Monday.

Japan, which beat Brazil 2-0, will meet France, 2-1 winners over Sweden, in the other semifinal.

France is making its Olympic debut in women’s soccer; Canada finished eighth in 2008.

Oscar Pistorius set to take the stage

By now you’ve surely heard of Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee sprinter from South Africa who will make Olympic history when he runs the 400 meters in London.

Well, track and field – or “athletics” as they’re called in the Olympics – is officially underway.

Pistorius will run the first of Saturday’s seven qualifying heats. And if you’re curious just how a double-amputee can compete with able-bodied runners, here’s your answer.

But as the Post’s Sally Jenkins wrote, it took a lot more than a pair of state-of-the-art prosthetics to get Pistorius to London.

U.S. beats China in women's water polo

The U.S. women held off a late rally and beat China, 7-6, in their final Group A preliminary round game. Maggie Steffens led the Americans (2-0-1) with three goals.

All eight teams advance to the quarterfinals in women’s water polo; the U.S. will be the second seed from Group A behind Spain (2-0-1). In the quarterfinals, which begin Sunday, the U.S. will meet Italy.

The remaining quarterfinal matchups are: Hungary vs. Russia, Spain vs. Britain and China vs. Australia. The semifinals are on Tuesday and the gold medal match will be held Thursday.

Centrowitz qualifies for men's 1,500 meter semifinal

Matthew Centrowitz (far left) competes in the heats of the 1500 meters. (AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG)

Matthew Centrowitz, a Broadneck High graduate, made a strong push over the final lap of his preliminary heat in the men’s 1,500 meters to earn a place in Sunday’s semifinals. Centrowitz finished fifth in his heat in a time of 3 minutes 41.39 seconds; the top six finishers in each of the three heats automatically advance to the semifinals.

Americans Leonel Manzano (3:37.00) and Andrew Wheating (3:40.92) also qualified for the semifinals on the basis of their times.

Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria had the fastest qualifying time of 3:35.15. Reigning Olympic and world champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya was the third-fastest, in 3:36.59.

The final is on Tuesday.

Andy Murray to face Federer for gold

Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates a point against Novak Djokovic. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

With emotions running high on Centre Court, Britain’s Andy Murray broke Novak Djokovic’s serve to pick up a 7-5, 7-5 win and advance into the gold-medal match against Roger Federer. Sunday’s showdown is a rematch of last month’s Wimbledon final.

On the same court four weeks ago, Federer topped Murray, 4–6, 7–5, 6–3, 6–4, to win his seventh Wimbledon title. The two players each gets a day of rest, which Federer definitely needs after his marathon semifinal win earlier in the afternoon.

Djokovic, who won bronze at the 2008 Games, will again play for third place here in London.

S. Williams is a big fan of Douglas

"I had chill bumps," Serena Williams said of watching Douglas win the women's all-around. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

Tennis star Serena Williams will try to win her first Olympic gold for singles on Saturday, but she’s been keeping a close eye on other American medalists here, as well. She’s especially a big fan of gymnast Gabby Douglas.

“I had chill bumps,” Williams said of watching Douglas win the women’s all-around. “Oh my gosh, I’m obsessed with Gabby Douglas. I love her, she’s gorgeous, she’s amazing. She’s so great at what she does. She makes it look so easy. She just smiles. She smiles so much.”

“To be the first black girl to do this, it couldn’t happen to a better gymnast.”

Williams said she hopes to get a photograph taken with Douglas at some point. “Of course, I might have to hold her because she might be too small,” Williams said. “Tennis players are a little bigger than gymnasts.”

Williams has also kept a close eye on Michael Phelps, who’s won more Olympic medals than any athlete before him. “I don’t know how you can achieve what he’s achieved,” she said. “It just doesn’t seem possible. Sportsman of the century pretty much sums it up.”

Jones wins silver in men's 50 free

Cullen Jones (left), France's Florent Manaudou and Brazil's Cesar Cielo pose on the podium with their medals from the 50 freestyle. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

American swimmer Cullen Jones claimed the silver medal in the men’s 50 freestyle, finishing in 21.54 seconds. Florent Manaudou of France won the gold in 21.34. Cesar Cielo of Brazil won bronze in 21.59 seconds.

Men's sabre team gold to Koreans

Korea defeated Romania for gold in men’s team sabre, 45-26, Friday at ExCeL South.

Earlier, Italy won the bronze, 45-40, over Russia.

The U.S. team – Daryl Homer, James Williams and Timothy Morehouse – lost to Belarus in a placement match and finished eighth.

Two more golds for Britain at Velodrome

Britain won two golds in track cycling Friday at the Velodrome, with Victoria Pendleton winning the Keirin and the men taking the team pursuit title.

Australia took silver and New Zealand bronze in the pursuit.

Shuang Guo of China won silver and Wai Sze Lee took bronze in the Keirin.

No Americans were in either race.

Ledecky, 15, wins gold in 800 free

Bethesda's Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the women's 800 freestyle. (AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU)

Katie Ledecky of Bethesda won gold in the women’s 800 freestyle, finishing in 8 minutes 14.63 seconds. Ledecky, the youngest member of the U.S. swim team, set an American record.

“At one point I thought I could be close to the world record. [Then I thought] I don’t even care, just get to the wall first,” said Ledecky, who was named All-Met as a freshman at Stone Ridge this past winter.

Her closest competitor, Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain, was 4.13 seconds behind.

Jeter impressive in women's 100 meter qualifying

Carmelita Jeter (left) easily wins her heat of the women's 100 meters. (AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE)

Americans Carmelita Jeter, Allyson Felix and Tianna Madison qualified for the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters. Jeter, the reigning world champion, had the fastest time of the seven heats, an impressive 10.83 seconds.

Jeter ran hard from start to finish and blew away the field in her heat, finishing nearly a half-second ahead of Kazakhstan’s Olga Bludova (11.31). Jeter’s time was faster than her winning mark of 10.90 at last year’s IAAF championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Felix eased up at the end of the fifth heat, posting an 11.01, the slowest winning time of any heat. Madison was second in the fourth heat in 10.97, behind Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare (10.93).

Other notable qualifiers: Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown, who was the runner-up to Jeter in Daegu, won the third heat in 10.94. Kelly-Ann Baptiste, the bronze medalist at worlds, ran a 10.96 to win the first heat. Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the sixth heat in 11.00, also easing up well before the finish line.

The semifinals and final are Saturday.

Phelps wins gold in 100 butterfly

Michael Phelps (left) celebrates winning the 100 butterfly. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

In what is expected to be his last individual race, Michael Phelps made a late charge to claim gold in the men’s 100 butterfly. Phelps finished in 51.21 seconds to win his 17th Olympic gold medal and 21st overall.

“I don’t even want to complain about going slower, having a bad touch or finish,” Phelps said. “I’m not even going to say any of that; I’m just happy the last one was a win.”

Phelps also won this event in 2004 and 2008. He is the only man to win a gold medal in an individual swimming event at three straight Olympics; yesterday he won the 200 IM for the third straight time.

American Tyler McGill took seventh in 51.88 seconds.

Franklin sets world record in 200 backstroke

Missy Franklin (left) reacts after setting a world record in the 200 backstroke. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

American Missy Franklin won gold and set the world record in the women’s 200-meter backstroke, finishing in 2 minutes 4.06 seconds. This is Franklin’s third gold medal and second individual gold of the London Olympics.

“I just wanted to go out and do my best and get a best time,” Franklin, 17, said. “It just happened to be a world record so I couldn’t be happier.”

Teammate Elizabeth Beisel won the bronze.

Britain's Murray grabs early lead

With a raucous crowd cheering every swing of his racket, Britain’s Andy Murray jumped out to an early lead in Friday’s semifinal against Novak Djokovic, winning the first set, 7-5.

Murray managed to break Djokovic’s serve on the set’s final game to jump on top.

He’s one set away from forcing a rematch of last month’s Wimbledon men’s singles final with Roger Federer. Federer has already earned his spot in Sunday’s gold-medal match.

Japan women beat Brazil, advance to soccer semifinals

Japan advanced to the semifinals of the women’s soccer tournament with a 2-0 victory over Brazil. The World Cup champions will face France in one semifinal on Monday; the U.S. will face the Britain-Canada winner in the other semifinal.

This is the earliest exit from the Olympics ever for the Brazil women, who won silver in 2008 and 2004 and finished fourth in 2000 and 1996.

Yuki Ogimi and Shinobu Ohno scored for Japan.

Roger Federer: 'I'll feel it tomorrow'

Roger Federer, left, hugs Juan Martin del Potro. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

No, it’s not a Grand Slam event, but for Roger Federer, Friday’s epic semifinal winsure felt like one.

“I definitely got a sense that this was something special. …the deeper we went into the match the more I thought, ‘Wow, this is so cool to be a part of a match like this,’” Federer said following Friday’s 4 hour 26 minute affair.

Federer needed 36 games in the decisive third set to oust Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro from the tournament and advance to Sunday’s gold-medal match. Friday’s semifinal was the longest match in Olympic history.

“I guess I’ll feel it tomorrow,” he said. “But right now I’m somewhat okay, I guess.”

Federer won his seventh Wimbledon title here just four weeks ago and said the emotions he felt Friday were similar. His win secured Switzerland its first medal of these Olympics.

“The emotions I felt were as strong as winning a Grand Slam, I’d say, almost,” Federer said. “You have to hopefully save something for Sunday. You can’t go overly crazy. But I was very, very touched at the end.”

“It was quite something,” he said. “A very emotional end.”

Federer will face the winner of the other semifinal match between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.

As for del Porto, his Olympics didn’t end with the loss to Federer.  After nearly 4 ½ hours of tennis, he was scheduled to take the court again Friday afternoon in a mixed doubles match.

Italians upset Rogers, Dalhausser

The lucky losers became worthy winners Friday at Horse Guards Parade when the Italian pair of Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo knocked off defending gold medalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, 21-17, 21-19.

Nicolai and Lupo, who have been dubbed “the young Todd and Phil” since they began playing together in 2011, were 1-2 in pool play. They needed to win one of two “lucky loser” matches to advance to the round of 16, where they were paired against the No. 2 seed and 2008 gold medalists.

But Rogers, 38, and his 32-year-old partner showed their years a bit against Lupo, who is 21, and Nicolai, who turns 24 on Monday.

Rogers downplayed a hamstring injury after the match, saying, “That had nothing to do with our loss. I wish them all the best. They could very well end up with a medal.”

In the second set, the Americans trailed 14-9 but the Italians, perhaps sensing the enormity of the upset, began making mistakes and the Americans climbed back to tie the score at 19.

But it was not enough. The Italians quickly took the final two points and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Serena Williams advances to gold-medal match

Serena Williams returns the ball against Victoria Azarenka during their semifinal match. (AFP PHOTO/ Martin Bernetti)

Serena Williams breezed through her Olympic semifinal match Friday, topping Victoria Azarenka, 6-1, 6-2. With the win, Williams has secured her first singles Olympic medal.

She advances to face Maria Sharapova in Saturday’s final.

Williams had 12 aces, 29 winners and only five unforced errors against Azarenka, of Belarus.

“When you’re playing the best in the world, you have to play better,” Williams said in a television interview. That’s what I did.”

Williams said she warmed up five or six times during the marathon Roger Federer-Juan Martin del Potro semifinal match that preceded hers.

Williams has won 14 Grand Slam singles titles in her career but has never won an Olympic singles medal. She teamed with her sister, Venus Williams, to win gold in doubles at the 2000 Games and again in 2008.

Williams also competed in singles at the Beijing Games but lost in the quarterfinal round.

Cycling: U.S. women second in team pursuit qualifying

Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch and Jennie Reed compete in the women's team pursuit track cycling event. ( AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL)

The U.S. team of Sarah Hammer, Jennie Reed and Dotsie Bausch finished second in qualifying for the team pursuit in track cycling Friday at the Velodrome.

Only the British women were faster – fast enough to set a world record of 3 minutes 15.669 seconds. The Americans’ time was 3:19.406.

The fastest eight teams qualify for the first round, where they race against each other according to their qualifying times. The British will race against Canada, with the fourth-best time; the United States will take on Australia, with the third-best time. The winners of the heats between those four teams advance to the final; the remaining six teams are ranked according to their times from the first round, with the best two competing for the bronze.

Ross, Kessy advance to beach quarterfinals

April Ross and Jen Kessy advanced to the quarterfinals Friday with a 21-15. 21-19 win over Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland at Horse Guards Parade.

Ross and Kessy won their pool to advance to the knockout round. Kuhn and Zumkehr were an 11 seed and 1-2 in pool play. But they gave Ross and Kessy a tough game.

The pool play format allows teams a day off between matches, but Ross and Kessy played Thursday night. The change in schedule showed in their early play.

The women’s quarterfinals will be held Saturday. Ross and Kessy will play the winner of a Saturday match between  Maria Antonelli and Talita Rocha of Brazil and Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova of the Czech Republic.

South Koreans seek fencing investigation

Shin A-Lam reacts after her loss in the semifinals. (Max Rossi/Reuters)

Via the Associated Press:

The South Korea Olympic Committee has asked the IOC to investigate how fencer Shin A-Lam was denied a women’s epee medal.

Officials said Friday they want fencing’s governing body, the FIE, to apologize, “reinstate” her honor and “restore the pride” of Korean people.

Read the full story here.

Japan leads Brazil, 1-0, in women's soccer

Japan's Yuki Ogimi celebrates scoring the opening goal against Brazil. (GLYN KIRK/AFP/GettyImages)

Japan leads Brazil, 1-0, at halftime of a women’s soccer quarterfinal at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Yuki Ogimi scored in the 27th minute for the World Cup champions.

Japan’s coach drew some criticism after admitting he instructed his team to play for a tie in its last preliminary round game in order to remain in Wales and avoid being placed on the same side of the bracket as the U.S.

The Japan-Brazil winner will face France, which beat Sweden 2-1, in the semifinals on Monday.

Qatari woman debuts in track and field

Noor Hussain Al-Malki covers her face during the preliminaries of the 100 meters. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa De Olza)

Qatar is one of three countries fielding female athletes at this Olympics for the first time. This morning, 17-year old Noor Hussain Al-Malki competed in the preliminaries of the 100 meters, making her the first woman from her country to compete in track and field. The Associated Press reports:

Wearing a maroon headscarf, long sleeves and leggings, she stood out among the starters in the preliminaries in the women’s 100 meters Friday morning. She was slow out of the blocks, appeared to be very tight, and finally clutched at her right leg before stopping after about 15 meters.

The official result is listed as DNF, but just being there was a significant achievement.

After covering her face momentarily, Al-Malki got to her feet and slowly limped off the track.

Earlier today, judoka Wojdan Shaherkani became the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the Olympics; Liz Clarke has the story of her first match.

China's Wu tops in springboard qualifying

Wu Minxia competes in the preliminary round of women's 3m springboard diving. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Wu Minxia was the top qualifier Friday in the preliminary round in the 3-meter platform event at the Aquatics Center.

Wu’s qualifying score of 387.95 easily eclipsed the next closest diver, countrywoman Zi He, by more than 24 points after five rounds of dives.

American Christina Loukas was seventh after qualifying and teammate Cassidy Krug was 10th. The top 18 qualifiers advance to Saturday’s semifinals.

Federer beats Del Potro in epic semifinal

Roger Federer clinched Switzerland's first medal at the London Games with a marathon win over Juan Martin del Potro. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

It took forever – not literally, but almost – but Roger Federer has finally beaten Juan Martin del Potro in the longest tennis match in Olympic history.

After 4 hours 26 minutes on court, Del Potro’s backhanded shot hit the net, giving the 17-time Grand Slam champion a 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 19-17 win. The third set alone last 2 hours 43 minutes.

Read the full story here.

Korean takes final archery gold

Oh Jin-Hyek of South Korea won gold. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Jin Hyek Oh of Korea won the final archery competition of these Games Friday at Lord’s Cricket Grounds, defeating Takaharu Furukawa of Japan, 7-1, for the gold medal in the men’s competition.

Xiaoxiang Dai of China defeated Rick van der Ven of the Netherlands, 6-5, for the bronze medal.

There were no Americans in Friday’s competition.

Federer breaks Del Potro, to serve for match

After going just 1-for-11 in his previous break chances during this marathon semifinal, Roger Federer finally broke Juan Martin del Potro to grab the lead in the third set.

Federer now leads 18-17 and will serve for the set and a spot in the final.

The match – which has been on court for well over four hours – is the longest ever in Olympic history.

British rider lead dressage competition; U.S. is fifth

Britain’s Charlotte DuJardin, aboard Valegro, had the top individual score of 83.663. (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The United States qualified for the Grand Prix finals in both individual and team dressage after Day 2 of qualifying at Greenwich Park.

The U.S. team of Jan Ebeling (Rafalca), Tina Konyot (Calecto V) and Steffen Peters (Ravel) were fifth among the seven teams that moved on to the Grand Prix.

Britain had the top team, followed by Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. Spain and Sweden were sixth and seventh, respectively. Team medals will be determined Tuesday.

Britain’s Charlotte DuJardin, aboard Valegro, had the top individual score of 83.663 and led the group of 30 riders who’ll compete in the Grand Prix on Thursday for individual medals. Teammates Carl Hester (Utopia) and Laura Bechtolsheimer (Mistal Hojris) were fifth and seventh, respectively, giving Britain its top spot in the team competition.

Peters had the best score among U.S. riders, 77.705. Konyot was 27th and Ebeling was 30th aboard Rafalca, the horse part-owned by Ann Romney.

U.S. women beat New Zealand, advance to semis

With goals from star Abby Wambach and reserve Sydney Leroux, the U.S. women’s soccer team advanced to the semifinals of the Olympic tournament with a 2-0 victory over New Zealand Friday afternoon at St. James’s Park in Newcastle, England.

Leroux broke open the game in the 86th minute after replacing star forward Alex Morgan, who had several chances to score but then hit her knee on the head of New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon.

The Americans have now scored 10 straight goals without allowing a tally against goalkeeper Hope Solo.

The U.S. will face the winner of the Great Britain-Canada match, which will be held Friday night in Manchester at Old Trafford. That will be the site of the U.S. semifinal Sunday night. The gold medal match is Thursday at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Rower exits Olympics after boyfriend controversy

A German rower is the latest athletes to leave the Olympics:

The 23-year-old [Nadja Drygalla] is reportedly dating the leader of the Rostock National Socialists – an extremist party described by German intelligence as racist, anti-Semitic and inspired by the Nazis.

 Read the full account from Matt Brooks here.

Federer, Del Potro still going in longest Olympic tennis match in history

More than four hours after their semifinal match began, Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro are still going on Centre Court at the All England Club.

Roger Federer is working overtime at the All England Club. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The top-ranked Swiss just held serve to knot the marathon third set at 15-15 and break Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s match with Milos Raonic earlier this week to become the longest tennis match in Olympic history.

Tsonga’s 3 hour, 58-minute win over Raonic on Tuesday – which ended 25-23 in the third set – briefly held the mark, but Del Potro and Federer have now broken it.

Federer had three break points on Del Potro’s serve with the set tied at 14 but the big Argentine saved all three and won the game to continue the madness.

The Post’s Rick Maese is courtside:

After a first that took only 36 minutes, the two battled for 67 minutes in the second set. But it’s the marathon third set that has captivated the crowd here at Centre Court.

That crowd includes Kobe Bryant and Bill Gates.

If you’re near a TV, turn on Bravo to catch a bit of history.

Leroux gives U.S. women 2-0 lead

Sydney Leroux, a late substitution for star forward Alex Morgan, scored a goal in the 86th minute to give the U.S. women’s soccer team a 2-0 lead over New Zealand in the quarterfinals.

Leroux entered in the 81st minute for Morgan, who had been rattled in a collision with New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon. Leroux took a pass down the left wing, touched the ball clear to herself, and then rocketed a shot past Bindon.

China wins trampoline gold

Dong Dong won gold. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Dong Dong of China won gold on the trampoline Friday, scoring 62.990 in the men’s final at North Greenwich Arena.

Dmitry Ushakov of Russia won the silver with a score of (61.769) and Chunlong Lu took the bronze (61.319).

American Steven Gluckstein finished last in qualifying and did not make the eight-man final.

U.S. women cling to narrow lead

Alex Morgan vies for a ball with New Zealand's Abby Erceg, left, and Rebecca Smith. (Scott Heppell/Associated Press)

The U.S. women’s soccer team has kept the pressure on New Zealand in its quarterfinal match, but still has nothing more than Abby Wambach’s first-half goal as the game moves into its late stages.

Wambach has had two excellent chances to score with her head in the second half, but both sailed wide.

In the 73rd minute, Alex Morgan — who could have two or three goals — got clear as she tracked down a through pass as New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon charged to meet her at the 18-yard mark. Morgan tried to touch the ball forward to herself, but her left knee violently caught a sliding Bindon in the head. Morgan fell to the ground and was helped to the sideline, and the U.S. played briefly with 10 players before Morgan re-entered. Then in the 81st minute she was replaced by Sydney Leroux.

Bindon, who earlier took a shot in the head from Wambach, remained in the game.

Morgan knees New Zealand goalkeeper in head

Morgan collides with Binden. (The Big Lead)

We just had a scary moment in the U.S. women’s soccer match with New Zealand. American striker Alex Morgan — sprinting on a breakaway — collided with New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon. Morgan’s knee appeared to hit Bindon in the head.

After a stoppage in play, Morgan was helped to the sideline and Bindon remained in the game. We’ll have more soon.

Sharapova advances to gold-medal match

In the first women’s semifinal of the day, Maria Sharapova had no problem topping fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko, 6-2, 6-3, earning her spot in Sunday’s gold-medal match.

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin was in the stands to cheer on Kirilenko, his girlfriend, but Sharapova proved to be too much, notching an impressive 35 winners, compared with Kirilenko’s seven.

Sharapova, appearing in her first Olympics, will meet the winner of the day’s other semifinal match between American Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus.

Shooter gives Cuba its first gold

Cuba’s Leuris Pupo equaled the world record for the final with a 34 in the 25-meter rapid fire pistol in winning the gold medal Friday at Royal Artillery Barracks.

Vijay Kumar of India took the silver with a score of 30. Feng Ding of China scored 27 for the bronze.

Alexei Klimov of Russia, who set a world record in qualifying, finished fourth.

U.S. twins advance to doubles final

Bob and Mike Bryan, twins from California, will play in the Olympic doubles gold-medal match after topping the France’s Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet, 6-4, 6-4, Friday.

The Bryans won bronze in Beijing four years ago and will be aiming for their first Olympic gold.

They’ll face the winner of Friday’s other semifinal between Spain’s David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez and France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Michael Llodra.

Del Potro leads Federer 11-10 in marathon third set

Juan Martin del Potro is slugging it out with the grass court master. (Elise Amendola/AP)

Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro are in the midst of a classic semfinal on Centre Court at the All England Club.

After splitting the first two sets, the Argentine leads 11-10 on serve in the third. Federer broke Del Potro for the first time to take a 10-9 lead in the third and decisive set, but Del Potro broke back to keep the marathon match going. The third set alone has lasted 1 hour, 38 minutes.

Neither Switzerland nor Argentina has earned a medal in London so far, so both men face tremendous pressure to reach the gold medal final. Of course Federer, currently ranked No. 1 in the world, should be feeling a bit more of that on the wake of his most recent Wimbledon title.

Stay tuned for more updates.

American last in trampoline

American Steven Gluckstein finished last in qualifying. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

American Steven Gluckstein finished last in the field of 16 in men’s trampoline qualifying Friday, scoring well off the pace set by leader Dong Dong of China.

In qualifying, athletes perform two routines. The first focuses on execution, with two skills counting for difficulty. The second has no difficulty limitations.

Gluckstein’s score from the first round ranked 12th, but in the second phase, his degree of difficulty (4.10) hampered him severely. He scored just 12.165 on that routine; by comparison, Dong had a degree of difficulty of 17.1 and scored 61.735.

The eight athletes with the best qualifying scores advance to the final. The routine for that round includes 10 different skills.

Dong scored a total of 112.895 for both routines; Dmitry Ushakov was just behind at 112.605.

The final will take place later this morning.

U.S. women's soccer holds halftime lead

Abby Wambach celebrates her goal. (Scott Heppell/Associated Press)

The U.S. women’s soccer team made Abby Wambach’s goal stand up till halftime of Friday’s quarterfinal match against New Zealand.

Wambach, who has now scored in each of the Americans’ four games, received a yellow card in the 43rd minute after a collision with New Zealand’s Katie Hoyle. Hoyle writhed on the ground for a time, but stayed in the game.

The U.S. has now scored nine straight goals since it last allowed one — back in its opening game against France on July 25.

The winner of this match advances to Monday’s semifinal in Manchester against the winner of Great Britain and Canada.

American women out of team table tennis

Erica Wu, right, is watched by partner Lily Zhang. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. team of Lily Zhang and Erica Wu was quickly eliminated by Japan in straight sets in the women’s team event Friday, 11-7, 11-7, 11-1.

Martynov wins prone rifle gold

Belarus's Sergei Martynov won gold. (Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

Sergei Martynov of Belarus won the gold in the 50m prone rifle with a score of 705.5, a final world record, Friday at the Royal Artillery Barracks. He had set a perfect score of 600 in qualifying.

Lionel Cox of Belgium (701.2) edged Rajmond Debevec (701.0) of Slovenia for the silver.

Americans Michael McPhail and Eric Uptagrafft failed to qualify for the final.

In the second phase of qualifying for the 25m rapid fire pistol, Alexei Klimov of Russia set a world record, scoring 592 to lead six shooters into the final.

Feng Ding of China was four points behind Klimov going into the medal competition.

Americans Emil Milev and Keith Sanderson were 13th and 14th,  respectively, with 578s.

Wambach gives U.S. women's soccer 1-0 lead

Abby Wambach fights for the ball with New Zealand's Ria Percival. (Sergey Ponomarev/Associated Press)

The American women’s soccer team took a 1-0 lead over New Zealand on a goal from star forward Abby Wambach in the 27th minute after a beautiful set-up from Alex Morgan.

Morgan dribbled the ball inside the penalty area on the left, juked defender Rebecca Smith — the New Zealand captain — and threaded a pass inside the 6-yard mark to a sliding Wambach, who converted for the fourth time in the tournament.

The Americans had several other chances. In the 23rd minute, Carli Lloyd sent a nice through ball to Wambach in the penalty area. New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon made a sliding save, and Wambach caught Bindon with a foot in the face. After being tended to, Bindon played on.

The U.S. had another outstanding chance in the 17th minute, when forward Megan Rapinoe played a ball from the right wing across the mouth of the goal. Morgan whiffed on it first, and Wambach, at the far post, then touched it wide with her left foot.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo has been tested a couple of times, making one save and watching another shot sail just over the crossbar, out of her reach.

Saudi judoka Wojdan Shaherkani makes history despite loss

Saudi Arabia’s Wojdan Shaherkani may have only lasted 82 seconds in her first-round judo bout, but the 16-year-old still made history when she became the first Saudi woman ever to compete in an Olympic Games. Read Liz Clarke’s full account here.

British rowers win gold, two bronze

Britain's Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins celebrate after winning the women's double sculls final. (Jim Young/Reuters)

Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger gave the British rowing team yet another gold Friday in women’s double sculls, easily winning at Eton Dorney in 6 minutes 55.82 seconds.

Australia’s duo of Kim Crow and Brooke Pratley won silver in 6:58.55 and Poland’s Magdalena Fularczyk and Julia Michalska took bronze well behind in 7:07.92.

The U.S. pair of Margot Shumway and Sarah Trowbridge finished last in 7:10.54.

Britain got two more rowing medals Friday, a pair of bronzes in men’s events.

Alan Campbell was third in single sculls. Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand took the gold and Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic won silver.

In the pairs, George Nash and William Satch won bronze behind Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand and Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette of France.

In the B final of the pairs competition, the U.S. duo of Thomas Peszek and Silas Stafford were second, giving them an eighth place finish at these Games.

In the other medal event contested Friday, Germany won gold in men’s quadruple sculls, with Croatia taking the silver and Australia the bronze.

Saturday is the final day of rowing competition, with four medal events on the schedule.

Track & field gets off to a wet start

Here’s a cool image taken with a fisheye lens from Olympic Stadium. Check out more of the best photos from the Olympics in our Day 7 gallery.

Day 7, at Olympic Stadium. (Ian Walton/Getty Images)

U.S. men's sabre team out of medals

American Daryl Homer, right, competes in the men's team sabre against Alexey Yakimenko of Russia. (Dmitry Lovetsky/Associated Press)

The U.S. men’s sabre team was eliminated from medal contention by Russia, 45-33, Friday in the quarterfinals.

The Americans — Daryl Homer, James Williams and Timothy Morehouse — went down 5-2 after the first bout and never led the Russians, who will face Romania in a semifinal.

Korea and Italy will square off in the other semifinal.

The Americans took on China in a placement match and lost that, 45-28.

That means the Chinese will take on Germany to determine fifth place and the United States will take on Belarus for seventh place.

Roger Federer heads into decisive third set

After two sets, Swiss tennis star Roger Federer evened his semifinal match with Juan Martin del Potro, winning the second set 7-6 (7-5).

After scoring just two aces in the opening set, the top-ranked Federer had 10 in the second set, including one that clinched the tiebreaker.

Del Potro, of Argentina, won the first set 6-3 and will serve to begin the third.

The winner of today’s semifinal advances into Sunday’s gold-medal match.

American women advance in 400 meter

Sanya Richards-Ross smiles after a successful run. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

All three American women advanced easily Friday into the next round of the women’s 400 meter, an event that’s shaping up to be highly competitive.

Sanya Richards-Ross won her heat in a time of 51.78 seconds, while Francena McCory and DeeDee Trotter both finished in 50.87.

The semifinals in the race are scheduled for Saturday and the finals on Sunday.

Richards-Ross is expecting the competition to be fierce.

“I believe the top three places will run sub-50,” Richards-Ross said. “I’m hoping we can crack sub-49. I think with the level of competition is definitely possible.”

Richards-Ross’s 49.28-second finish at the Olympic trials stands as the year’s second-best time, behind Russian Antonina Krivoshapka’s 49.16. In all, six runners this year have broken the 50-second barrier.

“I think we’re going to have a very strong final,” Richards-Ross said. “I think all eight ladies in that race will have a shot at a medal.”

British heptathlete sets hurdles record

Britain's Jessica Ennis helped get track and field off to a strong start. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

Via the Associated Press:

Ennis wowed the home crowd by finishing the 100-meter hurdles in 12.54 seconds, the fastest time ever in that heptathlon event. How fast is that? It matched Dawn Harper’s gold-winning time in the 100-meter hurdle final at the Beijing Games — and would’ve been good enough to take that title at the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

Read the full account here.

U.S. women face 'Football Ferns' in quarters

The view of St. James’s Park. (Barry Svrluga/The Washington Post)

The U.S. women’s soccer team transitions into the knockout phase of the Olympic tournament Friday, facing New Zealand at beautiful St. James’s Park in Newcastle, England.

This is familiar territory for the Americans, who went 3-0 in group play. But for New Zealand’s team, known back down under as the “Football Ferns”, a victory against the powerful Americans would be unprecedented. New Zealand finished just 1-2-0 in group play, and was the last team to advance to quarterfinals.

Since opening the tournament by allowing the first two goals against France, the Americans have reeled off eight straight in also beating Colombia and North Korea. Abby Wambach leads the Americans with three goals, while Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan have two apiece.

The winner of Friday’s match, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. ET, advances to face the winner of Great Britain and Canada on Monday in Manchester in what would be the Americans’ second match at famed Old Trafford, home to Manchester United.

Gabby Douglas appears on Today Show

Here’s Gabby Douglas discussing her gold medal in the all-around:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Australian woman dunks against Russia

Liz Cambage enjoys a light moment. (Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

Here’s the Associated Press on Liz Cambage dunking:

The 6-foot-8 Cambage took a pass from Kristi Harrower at the free throw line and after a couple of dribbles slammed home the one-handed dunk with 6:14 left in the third quarter. The basket gave Australia a 41-33 lead.

FIBA couldn’t confirm if Cambridge was the first woman to dunk in an Olympic contest. Cambage and her Australian teammates knew it was a rare moment.

Read the full account here.

Roger Federer trails after first set

Juan Martin del Potro has an early lead on Roger Federer. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

Juan Martin del Potro grabbed the first set against top-ranked Roger Federer, 6-3, Friday afternoon at Centre Court.

Federer, representing Switzerland, had seven unforced errors, and del Potro’s big first serve seemed to serve the Argentine well. He won 17 of 20 first serves.

The winner of today’s semifinal matchup advances to Sunday’s gold-medal match. Britain’s Andy Murray and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic square off in the other semifinal later this afternoon.

First Saudi woman in Olympics loses quickly

Wojdan Shaherkani, left, shakes hands with Melissa Mojica. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Liz Clarke has the details on Wojdan Shaherkani making history:

The contest lasted roughly 90 seconds. The 16-year-old Shaherkani, who was making her competitive debut in the glare of the global spotlight, was thrown on her back in an Ippon by her opponent, 28-year-old Melissa Mojica of Puerto Rico in the opening round of women’s +78 kg judo.

Shaherkani didn’t speak to the horde of reporters jostling and shoving one another to get within earshot as she was escorted through the interview area afterward. But in translated remarks to the London Olympic news service, she said that she hoped her participation would be the start of something broader.

Read the full account on Shaherkani here.

U.S. shooter misses finals by one point

Michael McPhail was one of nine shooters tied for fourth place in qualifying for the final in the 50m rifle prone event, but after a shootoff he was ninth overall – and only the top shooters advanced to the final.

Sergei Martynov of Belarus had a top score of a perfect 600. Lionel Cox of Belgium was at 599 and Rajmond Debevec of Slovenia was third at 596. Then came the group of nine shooters at 595.

The other American in the competition, Eric Uptagrafft, was 16th at 594.

First Saudi woman to compete in Olympics

Wojdan Shaherkani becomes first Saudi woman to compete in Olympics (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Wojdan Shaherkani, 16, will make history this morning as the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in an Olympic Games.

It will mark the first time the judoka has competed anywhere, in fact, because women aren’t allowed to play competitive sports or attend sporting events in the Kingdom.

Rather than qualifying for the London Games in the traditional manner, through world ranking or a national competition, Shaherkani was accorded a special invitation to take part by the International Olympic Committee, which has lobbied behind the scenes in the run-up to these Games to persuade all nations to include at least one woman on the teams. All three that had historically refused — Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar — relented.

Yet after Shaherkani’s participation was negotiated, it was thrown into jeopardy anew when the sport’s governing body, the International Judo Federation, announced that she couldn’t compete wearing a hijab, or headscarf, that is required in her kingdom. The sport bans athletes from competing in any headgear, citing safety concerns.

Read Liz Clarke’s full story here.

Reese Hoffa Advances To Finals of Men's Shot Put

Reese Hoffa advanced to the final of the men’s shot put competition Friday morning at Olympic Stadium, heaving 21.36 meters on his first throw as the track and field competition began at the 2012 London Games.

Hoffa, of Evans, Ga., was world champion in 2007 but placed eighth at the Beijing Games in 2008. He is the second-oldest competitor in the event at 34.

Defending gold-medal champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland (21.03) and Germany’s David Storl (21.15) also advanced on their first throws. The qualifying distance was 20.65 meters.

Allyson Felix explains decision to run 100

Sprinter Allyson Felix met with a room full of track and field reporters Tuesday and spoke at length for the first time since the controversy surrounding the women’s 100-meter race at the U.S. Olympic trials, defending her decision to pursue a spot in the race here in London.

Allyson Felix attends a press conference. (ANTONY DICKSON/AFP/GettyImages)

After finishing in a third-place tie with Jeneba Tarmoh at trials, Felix, whose stronger race is the 200, opted for a race-off rather than concede the 100-meter spot to Tarmoh, a training partner. Tarmoh bowed out of the race-off, and Felix will compete in both the 100 and 200 here in London. (Tarmoh is also here, a member of the 4×100 relay team.)

“I think the situation was just unfortunate,” Felix said during Tuesday’s news conference. “It was an emotional situation.”

But Felix said she’s a competitor and giving up the spot was never a serious option, contrary to the speculation of many track insiders during the trials. She’ll begin competing in the 100 Friday, with the finals set for Saturday. Here’s Felix’s explanation of her decision to pursue the race:

“I think that this is the Olympics. This is not something that I started last year. This is not an easy thing. … Everyone sees this one moment when you’re on the track competing and they forget this is your lifestyle, this is what you sacrifice for enormously. I think everyone just expected me to give up the spot because lots of people know me and they know I’m seen as this very nice girl.”

“It’s not just about me. It’s about Bobby [Kersee, Felix’s coach] and the time he invested in me. It’s about my parents and the sacrifices they made, my brother and my agents working with me and everyone who’s invested their time in me.

“I had a conversation with Jackie [Joyner-Kersee] when everything was going on and she just looked at me and said, ‘You can’t give this up. You worked too hard.’

“We both deserved it. We both deserved to fight for it. For me, that’s what it was all about it. It wasn’t just, this is Jeneba, the person I train with that I care so deeply about. …I think the biggest thing when I think about not handing it over was that this wasn’t about me. It was about all those other people. And that’s what was on my mind.”

Track coaches not tipping hand on relays

Trying to rebound from disappointing relay results from the Beijing Games, U.S. track and field coaches aren’t ready to share their plans for this year’s relay teams.

At a news conference Tuesday, both men’s and women’s coaches said they’ll wait until after the 100-meter races this weekend before disclosing what lineups they’ll use in next week’s relays. Four years ago, dropped batons cost both the men’s and women’s 4×100 relay teams any chance at the medal podium, and coaches are aiming for much better results this time around.

“Relays have been going great,” said U.S. men’s coach Andrew Valmon, who’s also the head coach at the University of Maryland. “We’re going to wait for the 100 meters and make sure we get a look at everything. We’re confident all the bodies that we need are ready to compete.”

The women’s 100-meter final takes place Saturday, and men’s is Sunday. The relays take place late next week.

Both coaches say they like their pool of talent. The men’s 100-meter sprinters are: Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Ryan Bailey, Darvis Patton, Jeff Demps and Trell Kimmons. The women are Carmelita Jeter, Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, Lauryn Williams and Jeneba Tarmoh.

“We feel very strong with the six people we have the lineup we have going in,” U.S. women’s coach Amy Deem said.