A few claw marks remain, but Michael Phelps finally shook the monkey off his back.
The 27-year-old swimmer, perhaps fueled by his silver showing in the 200-meter butterfly just an hour beforehand, became the most decorated Olympic athlete ever today in London when he won his 19th medal—a gold one, finally!—anchoring the 2x400-meter freestyle relay.
It was nice to see Phelps smiling for a change after a series of what had to be disappointments for the guy who won nothing but gold in Beijing.
"Thanks to @ryanlochte @conorjdwyer and @RickyBerens for giving me the lead they did going in to the last 200!!!!" the exultant Phelps tweeted afterward. "Can't ask for better team mates then what we have on team USA!!!"
He's got three more races to set the bar that much higher for future generations.
"Congrats to @MichaelPhelps for making Olympic history again tonight," the equally victorious Lochte tweeted. "Glad I had the honor of competing on the same stage as you. #TeamUSA."
Gotta love bromantic moments like that, right?
Also finally beaming from ear to ear was 17-year-old Jordyn Wieber after the U.S. women's gymnastics squad won its first team gold medal since 1996, the year of Kerri Strug's one-footed vault. Wieber, the reigning world champion, had failed to qualify for the women's all-around final on Thursday, but we imagine this will take the edge off.
Elsewhere from around the Olympic grounds and beyond today:
Eye on the Prize: Goggle-rocking Tony Parker and the French men's basketball team upset Argentina, which boasts NBA star Manu Ginóbili, 71-64. While the French still aren't expected to upset the U.S. Dream Team by any respects, Parker reportedly almost lost an eye in the bar brawl last month between Chris Brown and Drake's entourage—and then he had surgery and almost missed the Olympics! So playing in general must feel really good. (In other baller news, Team USA routed Tunisia, 110-63.)
Best Victory Dance: At her teammates' urging, goalie Hope Solo broke into the worm after Abby Wambaugh became the first non-British woman to score a goal at Old Trafford stadium, home green of famed football club Manchester United. And that one goal was all the U.S. women needed in their 1-0 victory over North Korea.
Worst Skid: A second chance at victory at the All England Club eluded Andy Roddick, who followed up his third-round loss at Wimbledon with a second-round ouster from the Olympics, 6-2, 6-1. Losing to Serbia's Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 player in the world, isn't anything to be ashamed of, but...Roddick didn't just lose. He was trounced.
Keeping Her Head Above Water: Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, who found that sudden success can equal instant suspicion in the eyes of one's competitors, set an Olympic record in winning the 200-meter individual medley. Which probably means the doping talk plaguing the 16-year-old won't subside anytime soon. "I feel that it is a little unfair," Ye said at her post-race news conference when asked about the negative chatter. "I think that in other countries, other swimmers have won multiple golds and no one has said anything. How come people scrutinize me just because I have multiple medals?" We don't know, especially considering you have always tested negative for banned substances.
First-Time Gold: American swimmer Allison Schmitt set an Olympic record in winning the 200-meter freestyle.
Magic Number: 23, the number of medals both China and the United States have won so far to lead all comers, though China is ahead in the gold count with a whoppin 13 to the U.S.' nine. Japan trails in third place with 13 and France is the only other nation in double digits with 11.
Jewel in the Crown: A British equestrian team boasting royal granddaughter Zara Phillips finished second in equestrian eventing, making Zara the first royal to win an Olympic medal (presented to her by mum Princess Anne, a former Olympian herself). Kate Middleton and princely cousins William and Harry were of course cheering from the sidelines.
Great British Hopes: Who wants to bet there will be a few royals in the stands if Scottish tennsi star Andy Murray makes it to the gold-medal round? He advanced his chances today with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Finland's Jarkko Niemen...Britain's lady footballers also bested favorite Brazil, 1-0, to set up a quarterfinal match with Canada on Friday.