Katarina Johnson-Thompson battled to a gutsy fifth place in the heptathlon at the World Championships in Moscow.
The 20-year-old Liverpool athlete went into the 800 metres, the final event, in contention for bronze, but despite smashing her personal best with a run of two minutes 07.64 seconds, she finished 28 points off the medals.
Her total of 6449 was a new personal best and it took four pbs and one national record from the athletes above her to keep her off the podium.
Johnson-Thompson, who bore Great Britain's hopes in the event in the absence of the injured Jessica Ennis-Hill, had targeted a top-eight finish.
But she had not given up on the medal even going into the home straight of the 800m as she closed on Claudia Rath.
She finished second behind the German, who moved ahead of her to take fourth by 13 points, but it was Holland's Dafne Schippers in third who held on to bronze following a remarkable run.
Johnson-Thompson took almost three seconds off her previous best, Rath took more than two seconds off hers and Schippers a staggering 6.9secs off hers.
After admitting she had "mixed emotions" with how her first day went, three PBs out of three today following a leap of 6.56m in the long jump and, even more impressively, 40.86m in the javelin, more than two metres further than she has thrown before, demonstrated Johnson-Thompson's vast potential.
She finished 15th just 12 months ago at London 2012, and even if this field was missing Ennis-Hill and Russian defending champion Tatyana Chernova, the youngster's rise has still been a rapid one.
Fifth place also caps a fine summer in which Johnson-Thompson won the European Under-23 title.
Ukraine's Ganna Melnichenko took the gold, with Canadian Brianne Theisen Eaton, whose husband Ashton Eaton won the decathlon on Sunday, getting silver.
Johnson-Thompson said: "I'm over the moon. Since the 200m yesterday I've got four personal bests - in the long jump, I finally got over 40m in the javelin and I smashed a PB in the 800m.
"This was the first time in the 800m where I've been competitively running instead of going for a time and trying to get over 6400 points.
"There were seven people going for the bronze medal in that one race so it was very fast and I just knew I had to stay within half a second of the German. It was a bit like a rat race in the end.
"I just tried to chase down the German because I knew she would be running out to get that medal. I tried to close her down in the last 150m, but I couldn't, but they dragged me along to a huge personal best and that's all I could have done.
"I'm a bit regretful I didn't say I could get a medal, because if I had a bit of belief in myself from the start I could have actually had one. It's weird to think I can target medals if I just sort out my throws.
"And I know I let myself down in the high jump. That's where I should have got big points. It would have been a much easier race for me in the 800m, but I'm glad I've got that PB now in the 800m and I know I can always rely on that."
Johnson-Thompson admitted she still had to improve her throws - she was 31st out of 33 in the shot put - to challenge for honours.
"I can't let myself lose that many points in the throws. It's a bit embarrassing for me," she added.
"I'm also learning how to deal with these championships. Normally I'm used to open meets at Stoke."
Former Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis was full of praise for her efforts.
She told BBC Sport: "It was a case of cat and mouse and Katarina Johnson-Thompson did a fantastic job and showed the class of Jessica Ennis-Hill.
"She knew what had to be done and put her all in to it - you can't ask for more than a personal best."
There was another impressive run in the final of 800m as Andrew Osagie powered down the home straight to go from last to finish fifth.
The Olympic finalist clocked 1:44.36, his best time of the year, to build on his London 2012 achievement.
Eilish McColgan was 10th in the 3,000m steeplechase final in 9:37.33.
Hannah England, the defending silver medallist whose Olympic ambitions last summer were ruined by a freak injury when she was spiked in the Achilles, advanced to the 1500m final by finishing fifth in her semi.
The Oxford athlete clocked 4:06.80 to give herself another shot at a global medal.