LONDON, July 31: China stretched their lead at the top of the Olympic medal table on Monday as American swimming sensation Missy Franklin lived up to the hype with her first gold of the Games.
After a stellar opening weekend which saw them bag six titles, China scored wins in artistic gymnastics, diving and women´s weightlifting to take their total to nine on a day marred by officiating controversies.
China´s men´s gymnasts endured a disastrous qualifying round but swept back to form to win the all-round team event and retain the gold won in Beijing four years ago.
But the biggest cheers were reserved for Britain´s men, who finished with a bronze -- the hosts´ first medal of any colour in the team gymnastics event since Stockholm 1912.
Britain had initially finished in the silver medal position before being relegated into bronze as Japan moved up to second after an appeal, with Ukraine dropping out of the medals altogether.
Elsewhere, China´s Li Xueying set two new Olympic records as she crushed her rivals on the way to clinching gold in the women´s weightlifting -58kg class.
At the Aquatics Centre, China´s Cao Yuan and Zhang Yanquan took advantage of a blunder by British duo Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield to win the 10m platform synchronised diving gold.
The British pair had been on course for the host nations´ first gold until a messy dive from Waterfield let the Chinese teenagers back into the contest.
Daley later refused to blame Waterfield for his mistake that likely cost Britain a medal.
"We´re a team, that´s it, full stop," said the 18-year-old. "You win as a team and you lose as a team."
With four titles up for grabs in the swimming pool on Monday it was US swimmers who cashed in with two golds, although there was disappointment for American star Ryan Lochte, who was bumped out of a podim place in the 200m freestyle won by France´s Yannick Agnel.
With Lochte struggling, it was left to the 17-year-old Franklin to sprinkle stardust on the occasion, and the youngster from Colorado did not disappoint with a win in the 100m backstroke.
"I couldn´t be happier right now. I´ve just won an Olympic gold medal, so I am not thinking straight right now," Franklin said.
"It is exceeding the expectations a hundred billion times more than I think it could be like."
Franklin´s achievement was trumped by 15-year-old Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte who edged out American world champion Rebecca Soni for the gold medal in the 100m breaststroke.
Meilutyte led all the way to post a brilliant win over Soni in one minute 05.47 seconds, becoming the first swimmer from Lithuania to win a gold medal.
Away from the pool, the Olympics lived up to its tradition of providing abundant drama in sports which rarely enjoy a global spotlight, with amazing scenes in the fencing competition at the Excel Centre.
South Korean fencer Shin A-Lam staged a dramatic, lonely sit-down protest for more than one hour after losing her epee semi-final against Germany´s Britta Heidemann, convinced she had been the victim of an officiating blunder.
Shin sat sobbing disconsolately on the piste as her coach protested her defeat to no avail. She eventually returned to lose her bronze medal match.
"I am very emotional. I should have won," said Shin, the 11th seed.
Away from the medals, Great Britain trounced Argentina 4-1 in the men´s field hockey, a game which followed recent tensions between the two nations on the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.
Meanwhile Switzerland footballer Michel Morganella became the second competitor to be sent home for posting racist abuse on Twitter after insulting South Korea´s players on the micro-blogging site.
"Michel Morganella has discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korean football team, as well as the South Korean people," said Switzerland Olympic team chef de mission Gian Gilli.
Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was kicked out of the Olympics last week for a comment which poked fun at Africans living in the country.
Meanwhile under-fire London Olympic organisers (LOCOG) continued to face criticism over the banks of empty seats which have been seen across various venues since the Games got under way.
Some 3,000 tickets from international sports federations were "put back in the pot" and sold to the public Sunday, LOCOG said amid growing public anger over empty seats.