LONDON — Michael Phelps’ first gold medal of the London Games was one special prize.
The American swimming star broke the Olympic medals record as the United States romped to a dominating win in 4x200-meter freestyle relay.
With 19 career medals spanning three Olympics, Phelps moved one ahead of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who got her haul in 1956, 1960 and 1964. He helped the relay team to the victory after settling for silver when he glided at the end of the 200 butterfly earlier Tuesday.
The United States team of Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer, Ricky Berens and Phelps on the anchor leg won in 6 minutes, 59.70 seconds. France took the silver in 7:02.77, while China was third in 7:06.30.
Phelps now has 15 golds, two silvers and two bronzes.
The U.S. women’s gymnastics team also had a big day. Jordyn Wieber kicked it off with a tremendous vault and Aly Raisman closed it out with a solid floor exercise.
Team USA routed silver medalist Russia and everybody else on its way to its first Olympic title in women’s gymnastics since 1996. The U.S. score of 183.596 made its final event more like a coronation.
When the floor score for Raisman flashed, the Americans screamed and a chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" rang out around the arena. The women held up their index fingers for the cameras — just in case anyone had a doubt.
"We knew we could do it. We just had to pull out all the stops," Raisman said.
Wieber went first and did perhaps the best one she’s ever done, getting great height in the air, her legs locked together. When her feet slammed into the mat on landing, she threw up her arms and smiled broadly. Anyone wondering how she was coping with the devastation of missing out on the all-around competition had their answer.
Also Tuesday, a female judo fighter from Saudi Arabia was cleared to wear a form of headscarf in the Olympics after a compromise was reached that respects the "cultural sensitivity" of the Muslim kingdom.
Judo officials had said they would not let Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani compete in a headscarf because it was against the principles of the sport and raised safety concerns. But an agreement was reached after several days of IOC-brokered talks between the International Judo Federation and the Saudi Olympic Committee, allowing her to compete Friday in the heavyweight division.
"They have a solution that works for both parties, all parties involved," International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said. "The athlete will compete."
Saudi Arabia, which had never sent female athletes to the Olympics before, brought its two first female Olympians to London on condition they adhere to the kingdom’s Islamic traditions, including wearing a headscarf.
Shahrkhani’s participation was thrown into doubt last week when judo officials said a headscarf could be dangerous because of chokeholds and aggressive grabbing techniques.
Without giving precise details, Adams said the headscarf agreement is in line with Asian judo rules and is "safety compliant but allows for cultural sensitivity."
Olympic officials defended Chinese teen swimmer Ye Shiwen against whispers of doping after she won the 400-meter individual medley Saturday in world-record time — and she made her own statement by winning another gold medal in the 200 IM Tuesday night.
The 16-year-old clocked 2:07.57 to shave 0.18 off her own mark set in Monday’s semifinal — good enough for an Olympic record and her second gold medal in London.
Ye had closed the 400 with a lap of 28.93 seconds — faster than the 29.10 American winner Ryan Lochte posted in the last 50 of the men’s race. Ye’s time was 4:28.43, more than a second faster than the previous world record set by Australia’s Stephanie Rice at the 2008 Beijing Games in a now-banned bodysuit.
John Leonard, head of the American Swimming Coaches Association but not a member of the U.S. Olympic staff, was among those openly questioning Ye’s legitimacy. The Guardian newspaper quoted him as saying the last 100 of her 400 IM race "was reminiscent of some old East German swimmers."
"We need to get real here," the IOC’s Adams said. "These are the world’s best athletes competing at the very highest level. We’ve seen all sorts of records broken already all over the place."
Asked about Leonard’s comments, FINA president Julio Maglione told The Associated Press people are free to say "stupid things" if they want.
"It’s a big mistake," Maglione said of Ye’s doubters. "The people that said this is crazy."
He said FINA spends $1 million to drug-test the top 30 swimmers in the world two or three times a year and "swimming is absolutely clean."
Zara Phillips gave the royal family plenty to cheer about, helping team Britain to a second-place finish behind Germany. Princes William and Harry and William’s wife, Kate, were in the stands to watch their cousin as she competed in the show jumping final portion of Olympic equestrian eventing.
Phillips’ mother, Princess Anne, watched as well — then presented her daughter and the rest of the winners with their medals at the ceremony before horses and riders took a thunderous group victory lap around the Greenwich Park stadium.
Andy Roddick spent less than an hour on the court during an emphatic loss to Novak Djokovic. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga needed a much longer run to advance against Milos Raonic.
Roddick lost 6-2, 6-1 to Djokovic in 54 minutes, leaving the 29-year-old American to fend off more questions about retirement.
The second-ranked Djokovic had 34 winners on Centre Court at the All England Club. Roddick had 12.
Tsonga of France moved on by winning the longest set in Olympic history. He beat Raonic of Canada 6-3, 3-6, 25-23. The final set lasted three hours and 257 points.
Andy Murray, Marcos Baghdatis and Kei Nishikori also won on the men’s side. Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams were among the winners in the women’s tournament.
Vincent Hancock is putting together quite the Olympic resume. The 23-year-old U.S. Army sergeant is a two-time champion in men’s skeet shooting after he successfully defended his crown with a score of 148 in London.
Hancock’s win gave the U.S. a skeet sweep after Kimberly Rhode won the women’s competition earlier this week. Anders Golding of Denmark grabbed the silver, and Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiya won a shoot-off over Russia’s Valery Shomin for the bronze at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
Ben Ainslie is still chasing Denmark’s Jonas Hoegh-Christensen in the Finn class.
Hoegh-Christensen finished first and second in a pair of races for a 10-point lead over Ainslie after six races. Britain’s Ainslie had finishes of 4-3 as the 24-boat fleet sailed in winds that reached 17 knots.
Ainslie is trying to win his fourth straight gold medal and fifth games medal overall. If he wins gold, he’ll supplant Hoegh-Christensen’s countryman, Paul Elvstrom, as the greatest sailor in Olympic history.
Ireland’s Annalise Murphy continued her surreal run in the Laser Radial, winning her fourth straight race.
Chen Ruolin and Wang Hao led China to its third diving gold in London, this one off the big tower in women’s 10-meter synchronized diving. China won going away with 368.40 points, and the country is nearly halfway to its goal of sweeping the eight diving events.
Mexico’s Paola Espinosa and 15-year-old Alejandra Orozco took the silver, and Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion won the bronze for Canada.
ELSEWHERE IN LONDON
Tony Estanguet of France won the gold medal in the men’s canoe slalom. Sideris Tasiadis of Germany got the silver, and defending champion Michal Martikan of Slovakia was third. ... Second-seeded Kim Bubmin of South Korea survived a scare from Fiji’s Robert Elder to remain alive in the men’s individual archery competition. ... Maiya Maneza won Kazakhstan’s second weightlifting gold in London and set an Olympic record in the women’s 63-kilogram category. ... Slovenia’s Urska Zolnir (women’s 63kg) and South Korea’s Kim Jae-bum (men’s 81kg) each nabbed weightlifting golds.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap