Beijing:Liu Zige led a thrilling Chinese one-two in the women's 200m butterfly on Thursday, giving the host country its first swimming gold of the Beijing Games.
With no golds on the horizon for US superstar Michael Phelps -- who swam only the semi-finals of the men's 200m medley this morning -- the spotlight fell squarely on the Chinese.
Liu smashed the 200m fly world record, out-duelling previous world record-holder Jessicah Schipper of Australia to seize the gold in 2min 04.18sec.
Jiao Liuyang, lying third at the final turn behind Zige and Schipper, claimed the silver in 2:04.72, also under Schipper's previous world mark of 2:05.40, while the Australian settled for bronze in 2:06.26.
"I didn't expect that I could swim so fast," Liu said. "I have never imagined that I could win the gold in the Olympic Games." Schipper was under world record pace at the halfway stage, but couldn't maintain her challenge.
The Chinese swimmers sped to the final wall buoyed by the roars of the Water Cube crowd. "The last 50 metres was hard work, it hurt quite a bit and the Chinese girls swam an awesome race," Schipper said.
"I am very happy for them both." Liu and Jiao emerged from the pool to an ecstatic ovation.
Their medals took China's tally at the pool to four, along with Zhang Lin's silver in the men's 400m freestyle and Pang Jiaying's bronze in the women's 200m freestyle.
"I didn't feel pressure before the competition, I tried to relax," Liu said. "In the race, I just swam at my own pace, not caring about the others."