Lucie Decosse of France finally landed the only major title to elude her as she claimed Olympic judo gold in the women's under-70kg on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old world champion beat German outsider Kerstin Thiele in the final.
After three world titles and four European crowns, Decosse can now add Olympic champion to her impressive resume.
Colombia's Yuri Alvear, the 2009 world champion, bounced back from her 10-second quarter-final defeat to Decosse to take bronze, beating China's Chen Fei.
And the Netherlands' 2005 world champion Edith Bosch also claimed bronze as she took a judges' decision over South Korea's Hwang Ye-Sul.
The Olympic crown had become something of an obsession for Decosse who twice before had arrived at the Games amongst the favourites.
In Athens in 2004 she went home empty-handed while, four years ago in Beijing, she was beaten in the final by long-time rival Ayumi Tanimoto of Japan.
Since then she had stepped up from under-63kg and having won world titles in 2010 and 2011 she came to London as the overwhelming favourite.
She looked totally focused from the off, waiting patiently for an opportunity before throwing Canada's Kelita Zupancic for the maximum ippon (a technical knock-out) with a kosoto-gari (minor outer reap) 30-seconds from the end of her bout.
In the quarter-finals she was in a hurry and took just 10 seconds to humiliate Alvear with an uchi-mata (inner-thigh throw).
The semi-final saw her defeat Hwang by a penalty in a sudden death period of golden score but her face remained impassive right until the moment the gold was hers.
In the final she was totally dominant against the world number 23 whose wild celebrations after her semi-final victory suggested she was already more than satisfied with her lot.
Decosse threw her for a half point waza-ari with ouchi-gari (minor inner reap) and then pinned her to the mat.
With the clock ticking she needed to reach 20 seconds to add a second half point waza-ari and clinch victory but Thiele battled away and escaped after 19 seconds, leaving Decosse agonisingly just a second from the title.
Thiele was over-matched, though, and spent the rest of the fight defending, conceding a minimum yuko score when thrown with kosoto-gari.
Thiele's big moments came in beating Bosch, the second seed, in the quarter-final with a kouchi-gari (minor inner reap) and then claiming a judges' decision over Chen in the last four.
Her tears of joy and frantic arm-waving showed she had already achieved more than she ever dreamed.
World number three Haruka Tachimoto of Japan was beaten in the quarters by Chen and then lost to Bosch in the repechage.