LONDON French swimmer Yannick Agnel floored the field on Monday in the big race of the day at the Olympics, the men's 200 meter freestyle, comfortably eclipsing a stellar lineup including American Ryan Lochte and Sun Yang of China.
The surprisingly comfortable victory took to three the overall number of French golds in the pool, on a day when Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella was expelled for an abusive message on Twitter.
China extended its lead at the top of the medals table with golds in diving, weightlifting and the men's team gymnastics, taking its tally to nine and overall medal haul to 15. The United States, in second place, has four golds.
Host nation Britain was still waiting for its first gold, but a bronze in the men's team gymnastics felt almost as good as it ended a 100 year wait for any kind of medal in the event.
The huge cheers at the North Greenwich Arena, where Princes William and Harry looked on, were muted only slightly when an initial silver medal was downgraded following an appeal by the Japanese team.
A row over empty seats at venues across London rumbled on, with Olympic organizers under pressure again to fill arenas and placate a public furious at seeing TV pictures of unused places, having been told months ago that venues had sold out.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said volunteers, soldiers and the public would be able to take some of the available places, but added: "You'll never have complete eradication of empty seats."
Ticketing confusion also led to the opposite problem - overcrowding - in at least one instance on Monday.
Dozens of angry ticketholders trying to get into the men's 10m air rifle competition at Royal Artillery Barracks were turned away because the venue was too full.
The weather was cool and sunny and London's transport system largely defied predictions of gridlock on the first regular working day of the 2012 Games.
London's transport bosses expect an extra three million journeys per day on top of the usual 12 million during the Games, an Olympian test for an underground train network that first opened in 1863 during the reign of Queen Victoria.
But on the first morning rush hour since the Games opened on Friday night, commuters said buses, trains and the metro were working surprisingly smoothly with a few hiccups, and roads were generally clear.
Chris Round, 23, from Boston, Massachusetts, took the Underground and Docklands Light Railway to watch the judo.
"It was real easy to get to," he said. We just got on the first train that came. It was kinda crowded but it wasn't bad."
Lochte, Sun and Agnel had all been chasing a second London gold in one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the Games.
Lochte won gold in the 400 individual medley, trouncing his compatriot Michael Phelps, Sun triumphed in the 400 freestyle and Agnel beat Lochte to clinch a shock gold for France with a devastating surge on the last length of Sunday's 4x100 relay.
Monday's race also included world record holder Paul Biedermann of Germany and South Korea's Park Tae-hwan, a line-up that could decide bragging rights over who is the best male swimmer at the Games.
In the women's 100m backstroke, Missy Franklin of the United States won gold and compatriot Matt Grevers triumphed in the men's 100 backstroke.
Phelps's silver in the relay was his first in these Games, which along with his 14 previous golds and two bronzes left him one shy of the all-time record of 18 medals held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.
Switzerland's Morganella was thrown out of the London Olympics for sending an offensive message on Twitter after his team's defeat by South Korea.
It follows the withdrawal last week, before the July 27-August 12 tournament got underway, of Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou for another tweet deemed racist.
Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen became the first female swimmer to break a world record since the ban of high-tech suits on Saturday when she crushed her opponents in the women's 400 individual medley.
Arne Ljungqvist, International Olympic Committee medical chief, was asked by reporters on Monday whether her eye-popping swim had raised suspicions of doping.
"I say no," he replied. "Should a sudden raise in performance or a win be primarily suspect of being a cheat then sport is in danger because this ruins the charm of sport," said Ljungqvist, who has 40 years experience in anti-doping.
China's Cao Yuan and Zhang Yanquan won the men's synchronised 10 meter platform diving and compatriot Li Xueying broke two Olympic records on the way to the women's 58 kilogram weight division in the weightlifting.
Romania took its first gold with Alin George Moldoveanu's surprise victory in the 10m air rifle event, and on a packed day of sport Russia's Mansur Isaev triumphed in the 73kg men's judo after a fast and furious fight with Japan's Riki Nakaya.
(Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Michael Holden and Julian Linden; editing by Justin Palmer)