Your Non-Spoiler Olympic Primetime Guide: July 31


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Photo: marcopako /Flickr

Everything you need to know about tonight's Olympic primetime coverage—without knowing what actually happened.

The U.S. women come in looking for their first team gold since 1996’s “Magnificent Seven.” Can they become the—sorry Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, et al. but people are actually doing this—“Fab Five?” Unoriginal numerical nicknames aside, Romania, Russia, and defending gold medalist China also have hopes for gold. If you’re into historically dominant performances and have any desire to see maybe the greatest gymnastics team ever assembled do everything right, watch this. The winners here really deserve their own podium.

The U.S. doesn’t have a team in this competition, while China comes in as the favorite, looking to make it three for three in diving competitions in London. The winning pair wins by a lot, basically lapping the competition in a sport where there isn’t a track. The silver medalists are somewhat surprising, though, so if you like seeing people be really happy about not winning something, check this out. 

Missy Franklin tries to become the first woman to ever medal in both the 100m backstroke and the 200m freestyle, starting in lane eight because she needed to conserve energy in yesterday’s semi. American Allison Schmitt might be the favorite, while world record holder and defending gold medalist Italian Frederica Pelligrini tries to become the first-ever repeat champion in the event. The winner outpaces the rest of the field by nearly two seconds with a close-to-record time, while there’s an American fighting for another one of the medal spots. 

Michael Phelps is the world record holder and the two-time defending Olympic champion in this race. He’s trying to become the first swimmer to ever win the same race in three straight Olympics. It’s his 18th total medal, but is it his 15th gold? Phelps jumps out to an early lead, but his lead slowly dwindles toward the end. This winds up being one of the greatest races in Olympic swimming history. So, ignore the previous three sentences, and just do this: WATCH. 

American Ariana Kukors is the world-record holder, but 16-year-old Ye Shiwen is the favorite after her dominant performance in the semis and in the 400 IM. She’s been “suggested” as a doper by numerous people, but read this and you’ll understand all the problems with that. Anyway, an Olympic record is set by the winner, and an American finishes somewhere in the medals. A pretty uneventful swim, but can you really pass up an opportunity to watch Shiwen? 

With Ryan Lochte leading off and Michael Phelps anchoring, it’s no spoiler to say that Phelps gets his record 19th Olympic medal in this race. Of course he does, but what color is it? Can the Americans get revenge on the French after Sunday’s 4x100m relay? Or will China or Germany snatch gold away from the two favorites? As seems to be a theme for the day, the winners take gold with a totally dominant, wire-to-wire victory. While maybe not exciting, is it at least a satisfying race? Depends what country you’re from.