Lochte wins, Phelps fourth
Ryan Lochte deposed Michael Phelps as Olympic 400 metres individual medley champion as he secured a dominant victory at the Aquatics Centre.
Saturday night's race was meant to be the first instalment of a showdown between him and Phelps, but ultimately Lochte was never threatened and touched in four minutes 05.18 seconds.
Brazil's Thiago Pereira was second with Japanese 17-year-old Kosuke Hagino third, just a year after taking bronze at the World Junior Championships.
Phelps, though, was third at the halfway stage before dropping out of the medals on the breaststroke leg, the Baltimore swimmer unable to claw back the deficit.
The crowd in the Aquatics Centre had given a rousing welcome to all the swimmers but the noise was deafening when Phelps, with his regulation earphones, was introduced.
However, the 27-year-old did not have his usual zip and his crown appeared to be slipping away early on when he failed to head the field after the first leg, which is his specialist butterfly.
He did not attempt to make any excuses, saying: "Just a crappy race.
"I felt fine for the first 200m. I couldn't really go in the last 100m. I saw Thiago out there and they just swam a better race than me, swam a smarter race than me and were more prepared.
"That's why they're on the medal stand."
He added: "I don't think the lane has anything to do with it.
"I felt I just couldn't really put myself in a good spot for that race. It's frustrating, sure, but I was under 4:10 three times, twice in the last month, month and a half.
"So, it's okay. It's just really frustrating to start off on a bad note like this.
"It's pretty upsetting. But I think the biggest thing now is just to try to get past this and move forward.
"I have a bunch of other races and hopefully we can finish a lot better than we started. That's what I'm going to try to do.
"I was lucky to get in. After our heat, I figured, 'I'll be fourth, fifth, sixth - somewhere in there'.
"The whole last heat was 4:12.
"So I was lucky to get in, had a chance to put myself in a spot to start off on a good note and didn't do it."
Meanwhile, Sun Yang won the 400m freestyle title as he continued to leave an indelible mark on the global stage.
The 20-year-old was second over eight lengths at the World Championships in Shanghai last year before producing a sublime 1,500m freestyle in which he lowered Grant Hackett's long-standing world record.
While talk of the Chinese swimmer has focused on how far into uncharted territory he can take the longer event, Sun came to London heading the 400m world rankings.
He qualified fastest from a dramatic morning session which had seen defending champion Park Tae-Hwan disqualified and then reinstated.
South Korean Park finished second, with Peter Vanderkaay of the United States third.
The last final of the night saw Australia claim gold in the women's 4x100 metres freestyle relay in an Olympic record of 3:33.15 ahead of the Netherlands.
The United States were third with 17-year-old Missy Franklin, she of the size 13 (US) feet, making what is expected to be the first of many visits to the podium.
The British quartet of Amy Smith, Fran Halsall, Jessica Lloyd and Caitlin McClatchey were an impressive fifth in 3:37.02.