Olympic Games, London, Day 5 Finals
Men's 200 Breaststroke Final
It was his final chance - and he meant to use it in earnest. But the historic three-peat was not to be for defending champion Kosuke Kitajima of Japan - gold medalist in this event in Athens and in Beijing.
Instead Hungary's Daniel Gyurta decided it was his moment to steal the show - and complete his collection of top titles - finally adding that elusive Olympic gold to his collection after two world crowns in 2011 and 2009 - a complete shutout from the medals in Beijing a thorn in his side for the past four years.
Kitajima looked strong all the way to the 100, touching in 1:01. 40 - but he was no match for Gyurta's overwhelming surge in the third 50 - the Hungarian fired on by the advance of Britain's Michael Jamieson - swimming next to him in lane 4 as the morning's fastest seed. On 1:34.16 at the last turn, the Hungarian had built the golden gap he needed, Jamieson and Tateishi matched on 1:34.81.
In a beautifully controlled last 50 - Gyurta used the noise for Jamieson to his advantage - touching in 2:07.28 to take Olympic gold - in world, Olympic and European record time. And another shiny suit mark to fall.
The podium splits:
Kitajima finished in 4th in 2:08.35, his last chance of the triple gone to a generation claiming its time in the first Olympic final in history in which all eight men raced inside 2:10.
"I managed to prove to everyone and to myself after those devastating two years after the 2004 Olympic Games that I could bounce back, and do what I dreamed of since my childhood," said the visibly elated Gyurta. "It is the biggest achievement of my life."
Jamieson's silver was the 8th for Britain on breaststroke since 1972, carrying on a long tradition of male breaststroke in the host nation. The Glasgow native said of Gyurta, "His last 50 metres are consistently the fastest in the world. He's been the man to beat over the last few years."
Hungarians have long been the bane of Britain on breaststroke since Adrian Moorhouse beat Karoly Gutler by 0.01sec for the 1988 100m crown. Norbert Rosza and Guttler finished top two over 200m in 1996 when Nick Gillingham finished fourth; Rozsa pipped Gillingham for silver in 1992; and Joszef Szabo pipped Gillingham for gold over 200m in 1988; while Rozsa was the man who deprived Moorhouse of the 100m world record in 1991.
Gyurta planned to have a replica of his gold medal made to present to the family of the late Alexander Dale Oen, the Norwegian world champion of 2011 and Olympic silver medallist of 2008, who died in April this year.
For Kitajima it was the end of an almost a decade-long dominance of the stroke. "I swam my own race," he said. "I have no regrets."
American powerhouse Michael Phelps - now the world's most successful Olympian with 19 medals - has the luxury of two more opportunities this week, with the 100 fly and the 200 individual medley.
Fastest Olympic field: London 2012: 2:07.28WR - 2:09.44
To qualify for the final it took: