I can't help but to brag on the fabulous work of SI's magazine staff for this week's Olympic preview issue. It's one of those every-two-years collectors' items, but the summer edition especially deserves attention for the sheer breadth and depth of the coverage. Resident Olympic expert Brian Cazeneuve has compiled his list of medal picks for every sport, and I just have to wonder: will the Chinese deny his entry visa because - gasp - he picks Dayron Robles over Liu Xiang for the 110-meter hurdles gold medal? (Just kidding - those Olympic credentials are solid.)
Be sure to check out Alexander Wolff's on-target opening essay about what these Olympics mean to China; Susan Casey's eight-part explanation of why, in a country where eight is the most auspicious number, Michael Phelps has the goods to go for eight gold medals; Tim Layden's nuanced look at China's greatest track athlete ever; and of course, all those medal picks.
While you're putting together your weekend reading list, add one more thing: Time magazine's list of 100 Athletes to Watch at the Beijing Olympics. This project is impressive: it's not just a list with a couple of sentences per athlete - it's an in-depth look at 100 of the personalities who will make the Beijing Olympics truly special. They don't shy away from controversy - Dara Torres, who's swimming faster at 41 than she did two decades ago, has come under all kinds of scrutiny since making the Olympic team and Time puts her story into perspective. She's number two on the list. For number one, and all the others - you'll just have to go there and check 'em out yourself.