By Sportswriter Gao Peng
LONDON, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Frenchman Yannick Agnel outclassed U.S. star Ryan Lochte and Sun Yang of China in a battle of Titans to win the men's 200m freestyle Olympic title on Monday, as China extended its lead in the medals table.
China captured three gold medals on the third full day of competition - in artistic gymnastics, diving and women's weightlifting - to bring its total to nine. The United States is in second place with five gold, but its haul of medals is level with China at 17.
In one of the most anticipated races in the pool, Agnel led from start to finish and won by a full body length, in a time of 1:43.14, against a star-studded field that included Lochte, Sun and South Korean Park Tae-hwan.
Park and Sun were tied for the silver in 1:44.93, while Lochte was fourth.
It was Agnel's second straight victory over Lochte, who was anchoring the U.S. 4x100m freestyle relay on Sunday when Agnel surged past him in the final 50m to hand France the title.
"He is a great racer, there is no doubt about it," Lochte said of Agnel. "He's quick, he showed it last night and again tonight. He did good."
Chinese men's gymnasts rebounded from their dismal performance in the qualifying to claim their second straight Olympic team title. Their score of 275.997 points was more than four points ahead of favorites Japan.
Yet the triumph didn't come by so easily as the results have suggested.
Teng Haibin, the 2004 gold medalist on pommel horse and a key member of the Chinese squad, was forced to pull out with an injury Thursday and had to be replaced by inexperienced Guo Weiyang. China's medal prospect looked even more gloomy after they finished only sixth in qualifying.
In the final, the Chinese showed unmatchable consistency with half their 18 scores at 15.6s or higher.
"We don't have any faults. That's our secret to beat the Japanese and other teams," said Zhang Chenglong.
Britain had originally been awarded the silver but were relegated to bronze after Japan appealed against the score of Kohei Uchimura's pommel horse routine.