1 of 9

After Danny Boyle took his audience back to ancient times in the Olympics opening ceremony, viewers have been jolted back to the future in the three days of action so far, with a series of teenaged talents stepping up and blowing their older competitors away.

The teen brigade stole the show once again on the third day of the 2012 Olympics, led by 16-year-old Chinese swimming sensation Ye Shiwen, who set a new record in the women's 400m individual medley.

Ye won the medley final with a time of 4:28.43, breaking the previous record by more than a second and beating her own personal best by a margin of over five seconds. She even swam the final 50m faster than Ryan Lochte, who won the corresponding men's event.

Ye's performance led to widespread allegations of doping, with US coach John Leonard describing her achievement as "disturbing" and drawing parallels with Irish swimmer Michelle Smith, the Irish swimmer who won three gold medals at the 1996 Olympics, before being banned for doping offences.

However Ye has subsequently been passed as clean by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, has told reporters that Ye's negative test is "the end of the story".

Ye has been followed into the record books by fellow swimmer Missy Franklin, aged 17, who set a new American record in the women's 100m backstroke.

Franklin's achievement was made all the more remarkable by the fact that, just 20 minutes before her 100m race, she had competed in the 200m freestyle semi-finals - surely the shortest recovery period in Olympic history.

After a quick soak in the diving pool, the 6 ft 1 in Franklin, who boasts size 13 feet, stepped up to the board again and blasted through the 100m in a time of 58.33, .35 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.

Having already won bronze with America's 4 x 100m relay team, Franklin is now being labelled the girls' answer to Michael Phelps - the giant swimmer who holds a unprecedented 14 Olympic medals.

Yet, for all Franklin's feats of endurance, the record claimed by Ruta Meilutyte, a 15-year-old Lithuanian who won gold in the 100m breaststroke, is perhaps even more remarkable.

Having set a new European record in the heats, and bettered it in the semi-finals, Meilutyte won the final with a time of 1:05.47 - earning Lithuania's first ever Olympic gold for swimming.

Meilutyte, who is also competing in the women's 50m and 100m freestyle, is a student at Plymouth College - the school which produced British diving star Tom Daily - and was a completely unknown quantity going into the Olympics.

Her coach, Jon Rudd, told the BBC that "We didn't realistically know what she would do," however he added that a big swim has been "brewing for a while".


Another 15-year-old, Briton Rebecca Tunney, is set to feature strongly in the women's artistic gymnastics final, in which the host country is hopeful of securing bronze.

Tunney, who stands 4 ft 9 in and weighs less than six stone, is nicknamed 'Twiglet' because of her tiny frame, and is the youngest member of the British squad - as well as the smallest.

However she has emerged from the same Liverpool gym that produced gymnastics veteran Beth Tweddle, who says Tunney possesses "the determination and the will" as well as the "oomph" to succeed.

Standing in the way of Tunney, Tweddle and their GB teammates is the American team, led by Victoria Moors - who, like Tunney, is just 15 years old, and the youngest member of her national squad.

Moors, slightly taller than Tunney at 5 ft 0 in, won Canada's all around junior championships last year, and placed second in the final of the floor competition at London Prepares, a test event for London 2012, in January. She has since claimed a silver medal at the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Zibo, China.

Renowned for her power on the vault, and the artistic quality of her floorwork, Moors is set to be a strong contender for several Olympics to come.

Yet Moors, Tunney and their teammates are likely to struggle to cope with the might of the USA in the artistic final. The Americans are hotly tipped to take the team gold - and, in 17-year-old Jordyn Wieber, they have a competitor who is almost universally acclaimed as the best in her field.

In fact, Wieber is widely regarded as having been the best gymnast in the world for the past two years, thanks to a string of high-profile victories, including two World Championship triumphs. Although she surprisingly failed to make the final of the individual all-around gymnastics final, having been knocked out in the qualification round on 29 July, Wieber is still widely tipped to lead Team USA to gold - especially as she is up first on two events.

In comparison with Moors and Tunney, Wieber is a giant at 5 ft 2 in. However she is a full 20 inches shorter than Anthony Davis, the 19-year-old prodigy who is hoping to help Team USA to gold on the basketball court.

The Americans, having thrashed France in their opening game, are odds-on favourites to add to their 13 previous basketball golds. Davis is currently filling a replacement role on the US team, but has already earned rave reviews for his compulsure and agility in defence. Having already won a contract with the New Orleans Hornets thanks to a record-breaking season on the college basketball circuit, Davis comes into the Olympics in prime form.

Hometown hero

Zoe Smith, the 18-year-old British weightlifter born just a stone's throw from the Olympic stadium, may not have won the medals of her fellow teen stars, but she still had an Olympics to remember, breaking a British record for the clean and jerk with a lift of 267lb (120kg).

Smith, who stands just 5 ft 2 1/2in, lifted twice her body weight to smash the British record - and claimed afterwards that her performance was "two fingers up" to the "trolls" who had abused her on Twitter.

Prior to the Olympics, Smith was the victim of a series of offensive tweets about her appearance. She also had to shed 5kg to make her Olympic weight category.

After smiling at the crowd during her lifts, and proclaiming that she was "just a little girl" afterwards, Smith is likely to follow in the footsteps of female stars such as Jessica Ennis, and become a fan favourite for years to come.