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The wins put the country in third place - nipping at the heels of Italy in second place and China, which is in first place with an impressive four gold medals and two bronze. The country's first gold came from swimmer Ryan Lochte, centre, who left Phelps, right, and his other competitors in his wake. Lochte showed his patriotism with a star-spangled mouth-guard. Team USA claimed silver medals in the men's archery and for University of Florida swimmer Elizabeth Beisel, left, for the women's 400m. The women's team nabbed bronze in the 100m freestyle, while Michigan's Peter Vanderkaay also took bronze in the men's 400m freestyle.
Team USA is off to a flying start at the 2012 Olympic Games, already winning one gold, two silver and two bronze medals by the end of Day One.
The wins put the country in third place overall - nipping at the heels of Italy in second place and China, which is in the lead with an impressive four gold medals and two bronze.
But it has not been success for all the country's top athletes, with famed swimmer Michael Phelps - who won a staggering eight Olympic gold medals in 2008 - trailing in fourth place in his first race.
Scroll down to watch Lochte's 'strongman' training
A point and a wink: Lochte celebrates his win with a cheeky smile and a wink seconds after his victory
Bling: Lochte poses on the podium with his gold medal (and some patriotic dental wear) after the race
Sore loser? U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps looks deeply upset after placing fourth in the men's 400-meter individual medley
U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte rocketed to victory in the 400m individual medley on Saturday, leaving Phelps and his other competitors in his wake and taking the nation's first gold medal.
He outpaced Phelps, who has won 16 Olympic medals in total, from the start and at times raced ahead of world-record pace before clocking in at an astounding 4:05:18.
Showing his pride for his nation, Lochte displayed an eye-catching star-spangled mouth guard which glimmered as he collected his medal.
The country's first prize of the day was won by Jacob Wukie, Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski who came in second place as they represented Team USA in the men's archery.
The silver medal is the first Olympic title for all three Americans, who lived and trained together in Chula Vista, California, and the country's first Olympic medal in the sport since 2000.
Top sports: (Left to right) Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski and Jacob Wukie won the first medal of the 2012 Olympic Games for Team USA - a silver in the men's archery
Chuffed: The team came second behind Italy but ahead of Korea to take the silver
Concentration: Arizona native Jacob Wukie, 23, is ranked No. 1 in the world in his sport
So close: The men finished in second place - just one point behind the Italian team
'I'm very excited to talk to you with a silver medal around my neck,' world No. 1-ranked Brady Ellison, a native of Arizona, said after the ceremony.
Gold medals: 1
Swimming: Ryan Lochte - men's 400m individual medley
Silver medals: 2
Archery: Jacob Wukie, Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski - men's team archery
Swimming: Elizabeth Beisel - women's 400m medley
Bronze medals: 2
Swimming: Lia Neal, Amanda Weir, Natalie Coughlin and Allison Schmitt - women's 4x100m freestyle relay
Swimming: Peter Vanderkaay - men's 400m freestyle
The 23-year-old added: 'This is the first (U.S.) medal of the Games. I do wish it could have been a different color, but I thank the Lord I got a silver medal and I'm blessed and fortunate to be here.'
Italy nabbed the gold medal with just one point over Team USA while Korea took bronze.
The other medals for Team USA - one silver and two bronze - also came in swimming events.
Elizabeth Beisel claimed the silver medal in the women's 400m with a time of 4:31.27 behind 16-year-old Ye Shiwen of China, who completed the race with a new world record of 4:28.43.
'She had the race of her life,' said 19-year-old Beisel, a junior at the University of Florida, after the race. 'Congratulations to her a million times over.
'It's definitely hard getting second, but I can't complain at all. The race was really hard, and maybe it didn't go the way I wanted it to, but I'm definitely appreciative with how the outcome was.'
The U.S. team of Lia Neal, Amanda Weir, Natalie Coughlin and Allison Schmitt won bronze in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay behind Australia in first and the Netherlands in second.
Joy: Team USA's Elizabeth Beisel, who has appropriately painted patriotic nails, hugs China's Ye Shiwen after winning second place in the women's 400-meter individual medley final
Excitement: Beisel, from Rhode Island, shows off her silver medal, left, and shrieks in delight, right
Celebration: Beisel, who led the field for much of the race, came in with a time of 4:31.27
Peter Vanderkaay, from Rochester, Michigan, took the country's final bronze medal in the men's 400m freestyle behind China's Yang Sun, who set a new Olympic record of 3:40:14.
It is the third Olympic medal for 28-year-old Vanderkaay - his second individual medal - and came as a relief for the swimmer, who has finished in fourth place at his last three biggest races.
'It's been a long string of fourth-place finishes - just missing the medal stand,' Vanderkaay told the Detroit Free Press, shaking his head. 'But this is the one to do it at.'
Team USA is well placed to take further medals next week. On Saturday, the men's gymnastics team finished with a score of 275.342, almost three points ahead of Russia, and didn't count a single fall.
All smiles: (Left to right) Lia Neal, Allison Schmitt, Jessica Hardy and Missy Franklin pose with their bronze medals in the women's 4x100-meter freestyle relay swimming final
Relief: The women shake hands following their win behind Australia and The Netherlands
Great job! Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Lia Neal and Allison Schmitt celebrate on the podium
'We're going to do everything we can to make it finish like that,' team captain Jonathan Horton said. 'I was actually joking earlier - "Can we just get the medals now?" But we've got one more day to go, and we're pumped about it.'
There was early success in other sports, including the women's basketball, in which Team USA took a solid 81-56 victory over Croatia on Saturday in their Olympic opener.
There was a 3-1 win for the women's volleyball team against South Korea, while Wimbledon champion Serena Williams also advanced to the second round.
In the pool on Saturday, the race between swimmers Phelps and Lochte had been billed as the great Olympic rivalry of the pool, a match-up to rival Usain Bolt and Yohann Blake on the track.
Success: Peter Vanderkaay, of Rochester, Michigan, with his bronze for the men's 400-meter freestyle
Shock: Vanderkaay came third four seconds behind winner Sun Yang, right, from China
Still a way to go: The women's basketball team also enjoyed a win in their opener against Croatia
Strength to strength: Team USA's Foluke Akinradewo jumps for the ball during the volleyball team's opening game against South Korea, which they won 3-1
Lochte climbed out of the pool with a big smile, waving to the crowd and looking about a fresh as he did at the start.
He had predicted this would be his year and, for the first race of the Olympics at least, he was right on the mark.
'I think I'm kind of in shock right now,' he told the AP. As for Phelps, 'I know he gave it everything he had. That's all you can ask for.'
Phelps, who looked furious with himself after the event, admitted that it wasn't his best. 'It was just a crappy race,' the told AP.
'I felt fine the first 200, then I don't know. They just swam a better race than me, a smarter race than me, and were better prepared than me. That's why they're on the medal stand.'
Varied emotions: Lochte, left, waves to the crowd as Phelps, right, gazes off into the distance, a hand on his hip
Disappointed: Phelps climbs out of the pool after the race, still looking shocked
Just keep swimming: Phelps comes up for air during the breaststroke portion of the medley with the London 2012 graphic in the background
Brazil's Thiago Pereira took the silver, and Japan's Kosuke Hagino claimed the bronze - beating Phelps by a fairly comfortable 34-hundredths of a second for the last spot on the podium.
It was the first time since the 2000 Sydney Games, when Phelps was a 15-year-old unknown who qualified in just one event, that he didn't win at least a bronze in an Olympic race.
Since then, he was 16-of-16 - 14 golds and two bronzes.
Lochte climbed out of the pool with a big smile, waving to the crowd and looking about a fresh as he did at the start. He had predicted this would be his year and, for the first race at least, he was right on the mark.
'I think I'm kind of in shock right now,' he said. As for Phelps, 'I know he gave it everything he had. That's all you can ask for.'
Phelps was trying to become the first male swimmer to win the same event at three straight Olympics.
Silver and bronze: Brazil's Thiago Pereira, left, Lochte, centre, and Japan's Kosuke Hagino pose with their medals; Pereira silver and Kosuke, bronze
Yes, it's real: Lochte chomps down on his new gold medal, left, and waves with a bouquet of flowers, right
Proud moment: Lochte listens to his national anthem on the podium after winning the men's 400m individual medley swimming event
He'll have three more chances at a threepeat before he's done in London, having also won the 200 individual medley, plus the 100 and 200 butterfly, at the last two Olympics.
But this was shocking, totally out of character for a swimmer who won six gold medals in Athens, then a record eight in Beijing to break Mark Spitz's Olympic record.
Phelps fell behind right from the start in the butterfly, his trademark stroke. From there, it was all Lochte. He stretched his margin in the backstroke and breaststroke, then cruised to the gold in the freestyle, a good three body lengths ahead of the rest of the field.
The much-heralded head-to-head of Phelps and Lochte nearly turned into a damp squib as Phelps came within a whisker of failing to make the final of the 400m individual medley.
Team USA: Michelle Obama shows her support for the USA competitors during the race
The 27-year-old Phelps just squeezed into the showpiece race the by just seven hundredths of a second as the first morning of the Olympic programme got under way in London.
'That one didn't feel too good,' Phelps said after his race.
He was the defending champion in the event, and was in the outside lane after being only eighth fastest into tonight's final, edging out Beijing silver medalist Laszlo Cseh in a major surprise.
Michael Phelps Ryan Lochte
27 Age 27
30/6/1985 Born 03/08/1984
Baltimore, MD Rochester, NY
6 ft 4 in Height 6 ft 2 in
185lb Weight 185lb
14 Olympic golds 3
Other shocks included the disqualification of 2008 champion Park Tae Hwan in the 400m freestyle, although the result of a protest to the jury of appeal was as yet unknown, while world record holder Paul Biedermann failed to make it through.
Phelps admitted to being taken by surprise by his poor heat performance, and said: 'I didn't expect those guys to go that fast. I just wanted to try to get some good underwater, try to get some good times. I think the only thing that matters is really getting a spot in the final.'
Lochte said: 'It's a tough field but he's in, so you can't count him out, even though he just squeaked in in eighth place.
'He's a racer and we're going to do everything we can to go one-two tonight.'
Park's disqualification overshadowed Sun Yang's apparently effortless progress into the 400m freestyle final in 3:45.07.
Lochte, originally from Rochester, New York, is a three-time Olympic champion, but in Beijing four years ago, his success was achieved in the shadow of Phelps.
That was close: Michael Phelps of reacts after only just making into this evening's showpiece final
Face off: The duel between Phelps and Lochte will be one of the most fascinating of London 2012
He intends to see that situation reversed. 'I’m here to win,’ he said. 'I’m going for gold. The trials was just an appetizer. This is my meet.'
He began the ‘strongman training’ in March 2009 with this Olympics very much in mind, working with Strongman competitor Matt DeLancey
‘I will flip that huge tire 20 or 30 times along a street we use for training in Florida,’ he said yesterday, describing a scene that could have come straight from a Rocky movie.
‘And we also pull big chains. It’s made me bigger and stronger, and as my times show it has made me faster.’
It has enabled him to beat Phelps on a number of occasions, in particular at last year’s World Championships, and he is the only male swimmer to have set a new world record since the special bodysuits were banned.
That was in the 200 individual medley, the other event he will contest with his rival and the one in which Phelps beat him at the US trials.
World champion Elizabeth Biesel made her intentions clear in the women's 400m individual medley.