Britain enjoys gold surge, Phelps eyes 20th medal

Great Britain enjoyed a surprise Olympics golden surge on Thursday as record-breaking US swimmer Michael Phelps targeted a 20th career Games medal.

The host nation moved into fifth place in the medals table, above traditional superpower Russia, who had President Vladimir Putin on hand to cheer on a gold-medal winning judoka.

Britain captured two golds and three silvers on a day when 18 titles were up for grabs.

Peter Wilson claimed Britain's first Olympic shooting medal for 12 years in the double trap while Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott edged out compatriots David Florence and Richard Hounslow in canoe slalom.

World champion Wilson, who only took up shooting in 2006 and is coached by Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai's royal family, becomes Britain's first medallist in the sport since Sydney in 2000.

Britain's other two silvers came in women's -78kg judo where Gemma Gibson paid an emotional tribute to her mother who died from cancer in 2004, and their men's lightweight fours rowing team.

China stayed top of the medals table when they collected their 18th gold courtesy of Zhang Jike in men's table tennis.

China also saw cyclists Gong Jinjie and Guo Shuang set a new world record for the second time in quick succession as they continued their search for women's team sprint gold.

Having set a record of 32.447sec in topping qualifying, the Chinese pair then led the first round times in a new world mark of 32.442.

Later Thursday, Phelps faces a dogfight in the 200m individual medley where US team-mate Ryan Lochte starts favourite to win his second individual gold of the Games.

But Phelps wants to win at least one individual title in London.

The 27-year-old finished second to Lochte when they met in the semi-finals on Wednesday, and Lochte has the mental advantage of his crushing defeat of Phelps in Sunday's 400m individual medley final.

But the pressure is now off Phelps since he overtook the previous all-time record 18-medal haul of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina with two medals on Tuesday, including the relay gold which clinched the Olympic milestone.

There was more disappointment for struggling Australian 100m freestyle world champion James Magnussen, whose reputation took another hit Thursday when he was only 10th fastest in the 50m heats.

Magnussen admitted he was struggling for motivation after his shattering loss to American Nathan Adrian in Wednesday's 100m final by just one-hundredth of a second.

"The the last thing I wanted to do this morning was get up and swim again," said Magnussen.

The United States picked up two golds in early action.

Kayla Harrison made history by winning the first ever Olympic gold in judo for America with her win over Gibbons. Harrison had been a victim of sexual assault by a coach when a teenager and once considered suicide.

The US also defended their women's eight rowing title.

Meanwhile, China's Yu Yang, one of the eight players disqualified from the Olympics for throwing a badminton match announced she is quitting the sport, saying her dreams had been "heartlessly shattered".

Yu, who won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and her partner Wang Xiaoli were disqualified by the Badminton World Federation on Wednesday for "not using one's best efforts to win a match".

"This is my last time competing. Goodbye Badminton World Federation, goodbye my beloved badminton," Yu Yang said on her Weibo, or microblog.

"You have heartlessly shattered our dreams."

In the gymnastics arena, Gabby Douglas of the United States looks a contender for the women's all-around title after Japan's Kohei Uchimura won the men's gold on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the US Dream Team will expect to book their place in the next round of the basketball tournament when they face Nigeria.

Only Spain and their LA Lakers centre Pau Gasol look capable of stopping the collection of NBA superstars.

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