5 to Watch: Cal Swimmers Murphy, Mefford in Finals, USWNT in Quarters

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A pair of Cal swimmers Thursday aim to continue stacking up medals for Team USA in the pool, competing in the 200m backstroke final; the U.S. women's soccer team is into the quarterfinals; and the track and field competition gets underway. Here's what to watch for in the next 24 hours:

Ryan Murphy, Lilly King among US swimmers back for more medals

Thursday night's swimming slate offers Team USA another chance to dominate the podium with finals in four events: the women's 200m breaststroke, men's 200m backstroke, women's 100m freestyle and men's 200m individual medley.

The men's 200m backstroke final will feature Americans Ryan Murphy and Bryce Mefford, both of whom swam for Cal. Murphy is coming off a bronze medal performance in the 100m backstroke, while Mefford looks to build on impressive swims in the heats and semifinals.

Lilly King will have her sights set on gold in the women's 200m breaststroke after claiming bronze in the 100m breaststroke, an event where she owns the world record. She will be joined by fellow American Annie Lazor in the final. South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker is the swimmer to beat after she set an Olympic record in the event on Wednesday.

Abbey Weitzeil reached the final for the women's 100m freestyle. She already has a bronze medal in Tokyo as part of Team USA's 4x100m freestyle relay.

The last final of the session is the men's 200m IM featuring Michael Andrew, who posted the fastest time in 200m IM qualifying. Chase Kalisz, who won gold in the 400m IM, failed to qualify for the 200m IM final.

Thursday's session also includes semifinals in the men's 100m butterfly and women's 200m backstroke.

Watch live in NBC’s primetime coverage, or stream live.

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Ryan Murphy.

USWNT battles Netherlands in women's soccer quarterfinals

The U.S. women's national team made it into the soccer quarterfinals thanks to a draw against Australia on Tuesday.

The USWNT, which placed second in Group G, knows how dangerous the quarterfinal round can be. The team fell to Sweden in the round of eight at the 2016 Rio Olympics, failing to medal for the first time in Olympic history. The Americans had brought home gold in all four prior Games.

The team has already overcome adversity in Tokyo, though. The U.S. followed up a stunning 3-0 opening defeat to Sweden with a comfortable 6-1 win over New Zealand before drawing Australia to secure a quarterfinals berth. Now, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Co. turn their attention to fending elimination and winning the U.S. another gold.

The Netherlands has been an offensive force in Tokyo. The Dutch women topped Group F with seven points and scored 21 goals in three games. The quarterfinal tilt kicks off at 4 a.m. Friday.

Watch the game on NBCSN or Telemundo, or stream live.

The U.S. women’s soccer team advanced to the quarterfinals after tying with Australia 0-0. The quarterfinals are scheduled to begin July 30.
Follow all the latest news about our Bay Area Olympians as they compete for gold in Tokyo.

Track and field competition gets off and running

The track and field competition in Tokyo begins with a full day of action.

The first session begins at 5 p.m., with heats in six events: men’s high jump, men’s steeplechase, men’s discus, women’s 800m, men’s 400m hurdles and women’s 100m. JuVaughn Harrison (men’s high jump), Athing Mu (women’s 800m) and Rai Benjamin (men’s 400m hurdles) are among the U.S. medal contenders who will begin their events.

The second session begins at 3 a.m. Friday and will see the first track and field medals of the 2020 Olympics awarded. The session features women’s 5000m heats, women’s triple jump qualification, women’s shot put qualification and 4x400m mixed relay heats. Keturah Orji (women’s triple jump), Jessica Ramsey (women’s shot put), Raven Saunders (women’s shot put) and a star-studded women’s 4x400m relay team that has won six straight Olympic titles headline the Team USA participants.

The night concludes with the men’s 10,000m final. Grant Fisher, Woody Kincaid and Joe Klecker will be competing for the U.S.

Watch the first session in NBC’s primetime coverage, or stream live.

Watch the second session on NBCSN, or stream live.

Hurdler Rai Benjamin was given the opportunity to participate in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but a foot injury held him back. Now he is returning for Tokyo 2020, ready to compete against some of the fastest runners out there.

Team USA faces Japan in women's basketball

The U.S. women's basketball team puts its 50-game Olympic winning streak on the line against Japan in a Group B matchup at 9:40 p.m. Thursday.

The Americans handled Nigeria by a score of 81-72 in their opener on Tuesday. A'ja Wilson led the charge with 19 points and 13 rebounds, while U.S. flag bearer Sue Bird dished out 13 points while being held scoreless.

Team USA is aiming for its seventh straight Olympic gold. The team hasn't been beaten on the Olympic stage since the semifinals at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Japan beat France 74-70 in its first Group B contest. Saki Hayashi scored a game-high 12 points for the host nation.

Watch on USA Network or stream live.

LAS VEGAS, NV -  JULY 17: Sue Bird #6 of the USA Basketball Womens National Team smiles during USAB Womens National Team practice at the Mendenhall Center on July 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sue Bird will be one of the flag bearers for the United States during the Opening Ceremony.
2020 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson led Team USA women’s basketball to a win over Nigeria.

Rowing competitions close with men’s and women’s eight finals

The U.S. rowing team will be seeking medals in two of the sport’s biggest races: the men’s and women’s eight finals.

The U.S. women’s eight won the second heat with the third-fastest overall qualifying time. If the team wants to win its fourth straight Olympic gold, it will have to beat strong competitors from Romania, Canada and New Zealand. Romania set a world-best time of 5:52.99 in the repechage race, while Canada also beat the previous world-best mark in the same race. New Zealand, meanwhile, won the first heat of the event.

The U.S. men’s eight finished second in its heat and third in the repechage race. The team is looking for its first Olympic medal since 2008 and first Olympic gold since 2004. Standing in its way are Germany, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

After dealing with weather-related rescheduling earlier this week, the men’s and women’s eight finals are the last two rowing races at the Tokyo Games. The final rowing session begins at 3:45 p.m. Thursday also includes finals for men’s and women’s single sculls.

Watch on CNBC, or stream live.

Liam Corrigan (right, in white hat) and Austin Hack (black visor), both of Old Lyme, will be rowing with the U.S. team in the men's eight in the Tokyo Olympics.
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