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Today at the Olympics: Bolt goes for double in 200, US women's soccer looks for revenge

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  August 9, 2012 05:36 AM

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LONDON -- Welcome to Day 13 of competition, during which 10 sports will award medals. The schedule is dotted with exciting events all over the city, including the women's soccer final against Japan, the gold-medal women's water polo match, the final five events of the decathlon (American Ashton Eaton enters with the lead), and, yes, the more compelling athlete here sprinting for another slice of history.

Thursday's must-see event: At first, I had trouble deciding between a couple for this designation this morning, but then somewhere after the first cup of coffee the truth, as obvious as it should have been all along, became evident: Anytime Usain Bolt is involved, it is the must-see event. And that goes double when he's going for a double -- Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter and world-wide icon whose status here exceeds even that of the Team USA basketball players, will try to become the first ever to win the 100- and 200-meter races in back-to-back Games. He'll be in pursuit of more history, starting with the Olympic record in the event (19.30 seconds). In pursuit of him will be his countryman and training partner Yohan Blake, and it would be a shock if anyone else in the field challenges them. Bolt says this is his favorite race because it's more tactically challenging than the 100 meters. Chances are he'll reaffirm that after winning it Thursday night.

Also worth watching: The United States women's soccer team takes on Japan in the Thursday's gold medal match. Japan beat the US in a shootout in the World Cup final. How hungry is the US to avenge that loss? Abby Wambach can tell you:

"Every single player on this team, whether they're even here or not, even players that are left back in the United States, they've given us all an opportunity to train, to work, to dedicate, to sacrifice, every single day since the World Cup, so that we can have this one chance, the one more chance, the 90 more minutes," said Wambach, who scored the tying goal in the US's thrilling 4-3 win over Canada in the semifinals.

"All of us have dreamed about it. We've had nightmares about it even, what happened last summer. This is an opportunity for us for not even redemption, but to prove ourselves, to let whatever happened last summer go -- and be in a position to go after and take the gold medal because we believe that we've earned it. It's going to take 90 minutes of a great performance of the best team in the world, and that's going to be the team that's going to be sitting on the top podium."

Yeah, I'd say they're ready for this. But it almost seems destined to come down to a shootout again, doesn't it?

Wednesday's big story: Allyson Felix is just 27 years old, but she's been the golden girl of US track and field for nearly a decade. Yet until Wednesday night, she had never won an Olympic gold medal in her signature event, the 200 meters, having finished with a silver medal in 2004 in Athens and four years ago in Beijing, the latter a disappointment that left her in tears after the race. So when Felix breezed to gold in 21.88 seconds, beating a field that included two-time defending gold medalist Victoria Campbell-Brown, it was both cathartic and fulfilling.

"Gosh, it's been a long time coming," said Felix. "I think the moment that motivated me most was losing on the biggest stage. At the time I said I'd give all my world championship medals [10] for that gold. Now I can say I embraced the journey."

Tweet of the day: I want to apologize for my stupid act at the end, I showed a bad image of France and myself, Congrats to team Spain. -- France forward Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum), apologizing for punching Spain's Juan Carlos Navarro in the groin during Spain's medal-round basketball victory Wednesday. He wasn't quite so remorseful at first, saying he did it because Navarro and the Spain guards wouldn't stop flopping.

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

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