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Today at the Olympics: Allyson Felix goes for 200-meter gold, beach volleyball showdown

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  August 8, 2012 07:13 AM

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LONDON -- Welcome to Day 12 of competition, during which eight sports will award medals, including four in athletics. Athletics sounds way more official than calling it track and field, doesn't it? I'm gonna go with it.

Wednesday's must-see event: Allyson Felix's run of success in the 200 meters is prolonged and impressive. She won world titles in the event in 2005, '07 and '09, and she owns a pair of silver medals in the event from 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing. Wednesday she is favored to wind up one step higher on the podium.

Felix, who won one of three semifinal heats Tuesday in a time of 22.31 seconds, will have some competition from teammate Carmelita Jeter and Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown, who won gold in the event during the previous two Summer Games.

But it would be a major surprise if Felix doesn't capture the gold.

Athletics medals are also up for grabs in the women's 400-meter hurdles and long jump and the men's 110-meter hurdles, while the US's Ashton Eaton will be among the athletes competing in the first day of the decathlon, which begins with five events.

Also worth watching: Beach volleyball at the Horse Guards Parade venue sometimes seems more like party central than the site of serious athletic competition. But the place is certain to have the latter vibe Wednesday when the all-American final featuring decorated duo Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings take on the lesser- known tandem of Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, who upset top-seeded Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta Silva of Brazil in the semifinals,

It's not a rivalry in the truest sense because the scale tips entirely in May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings's direction when overall accomplishments are weighed -- they've won the previous two gold medals and have won their last 20 Olympic matches. But both tandems are motivated beyond the obvious desire to win gold. This is the last hurrah for May-Treanor, who is retiring after the Olympics, and the last scene of the script isn't supposed to include departing in defeat. As for Kessy and Ross, they are propelled by the chance to seize some of the spotlight focused on their more decorated countrywomen, has Sports Illustrated's Phil Taylor notes:

There is some edge to the relationship. Kessy and Ross have watched May-Treanor/Walsh Jennings get far more media attention than they have, or any other team for that matter, and though they can't argue that it is undeserved, they would like to serve notice that there is another women's team worth everyone's notice.

They'll get that notice today. What remains to be seen is whether it will come because they defeated May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings, or because they were their final victim.

Tuesday's big story: Aly Raisman sure has a knack for memorable endings. The Needham native was the anchor when the US women clinched the team gymnastics gold, and Tuesday, she wrapped up her Olympic experience with a pair of medals, winning the gold in the floor exercise and bronze in the balance beam. While charismatic teammate Gabby Douglas was the all-around champion and has the Corn Flakes box to prove it, Raisman's superb performance in London -- particularly her daring in the floor exercise, when she ratcheted her degree of difficulty up to 6.5 and then nailed her routine -- will not be forgotten.

Tweet of the day: "Yay Aly, Gold for Floor Exercise! Go USA!!" -- @SamuelLJackson, Needham's Aly Raisman won the gold Tuesday. Yes, that Samuel L. Jackson, whose habitual tweeting on the Olympics has been an absolute riot. Jules Winnfield, Olympics junkie. Who would have suspected?

Mind the gap, and stick around right here for further updates throughout the day.

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