Everything you need to know about tonight's Olympic primetime coverage—without knowing what actually happened.
WOMEN’S INDIVIDUAL ALL-AROUND GYMNASTICS
The world’s best gymnast doesn’t win gold—because Jordyn Wieber didn’t qualify for the all-around competition. It makes no sense that the U.S. can’t have three competitors in the all-around, but this is also the Olympics, where things not making sense actually makes sense. Anyway, you’ll forget about that if you watch the actual competition. Americans Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, along with Russian Victoria Komova, are the favorites. It’s one of those competitions where no one really screws up and one person is greater than a bunch of other really great people. Some sport-transcending history gets made, but the winner is in doubt right up until the end.
WOMEN’S 200M BREASTSTROKE
Rebecca Soni already won gold in the 100m breaststroke, setting a world record in the process. She set the world record in the 200m semis and is the clear favorite. With a win, she’ll become the first woman to win this event in consecutive Olympics. It seems to be more of a question of whether or not Soni can beat her semifinal time rather than if anyone can beat her. But the race is close for the first 150 meters—until the winner takes off after the last turn. Those interested in things like “transcendent athletic performances” should tune in.
MEN’S 200M BACKSTROKE
It’s a big day—or night, maybe—for Ryan Lochte. He races in the 200m backstroke and then has the 200m individual medley just 30 minutes later. He’s favored here, but American Tyler Clary and Japan’s Ryosuke Irie are expected to challenge. This ends up being a pretty fun race, with all three of the favorites in contention until the end. Lochte jumps out to an early lead, but can he hang on? If you don’t want to watch this, congratulations on not being brainwashed by a certain network television channel that uses an exotic bird as its symbol. But even then, you should probably still tune in.
MEN’S 200M INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
Phelps and Lochte have both been pretty disappointing thus far in London. Disappointing in the sense that they were both expected to win every medal, in every sport, men’s and women’s, summer and winter, paralympics, homeless Olympics, hipster Olympics, and hamster Olympics. Despite their colossal failures, they’re still the two favorites coming into this race. It’s Phelps’ last chance to become the first man to win an individual swimming event at three straight Olympics. And it's Lochte’s last chance to medal in London. If you’re reading, you’re going to watch this. One SPOILER: the world doesn’t end after this race.
WOMEN’S 100M FREESTYLE
The best thing about this race is that it basically takes the announcers more time to pronounce the names of some of the favorites as it does for those favorites to complete the full race. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (see?) of the Netherlands comes in as the favorite. Since it’s only 100 meters, the race is pretty much guaranteed to be somewhat close. Missy Franklin—MISSY FRANKLIN—and Jessica Hardy both swim for the U.S. And the winner sets a record. The race is less than a minute long, but if you have a breath-holding competition you need to go to instead of watching, I understand.