Dean Macey made up for his Olympic heartache as he bravely battled his way to decathlon bronze for Britain at the World Championships in Edmonton.
The 23–year–old needed five pain–killing injections just to get him through probably the greatest multi–event competition ever seen last night.
Macey scored 8603 points to shatter the career best points total he set when controversially missing out in Sydney last September by 36 points.
But it was just not enough as Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic claimed a record–equalling third successive title with a championship best of 8902 points to win by 87 from Olympic champion Erki Nool of Estonia with Macey another 212 adrift.
Macey, who had led by one point overnight, was in contention until the eighth event when the growing list of injuries finally took their toll on his giant 6ft 5in frame.
"I am not going to make an excuse of the injuries," insisted Macey, who tore his abductor muscle a few weeks ago, tweaked a hamstring in the opening event and then injured his elbow in the javelin.
"The abductor was the problem. I had a pain–killing injection in my groin on the first day and four more today. I hate needles especially down there in that area, which just shows how much this medal means to me that I went through it.
"I feel like I've won my own personal gold medal. Up until the vault I was still in contention and I have proved that I can beat these guys and one day it will be gold."
"I keep saying I never think about Sydney even though I do and one of the reasons I'm so chuffed now is that I know what I felt like after giving 110% last year and coming home with nothing in my pocket.
"This year I've got something in my pocket and I'm a 8600 point man now. Up until the discus I was on track for 8800 points and breaking Daley Thompson's record.
"But I'd mentally and physically drained myself out. I think that's why my vault and my javelin suffered.
"I had a mental block in the vault and I threw the javelin like I had two left arms. I'd gone and knackered my elbow when I went for the big one at the start because of the abductor problem which restricted my movement.
"But sometimes you have got to gamble a million to win two million. It just didn't work this time."
Macey had been urged on throughout the two days by his dad, Alan, mum Pat, brother and sister Adam and Marie as well as an aunt and uncle and a couple of cousins and he climbed up a wall in the Commonwealth Stadium afterwards for an emotional reunion.
"I've done a bit of a Pat Cash, haven't I?," said Macey, recalling a similar incident after the Australian won Wimbledon.
"When I was climbing up that wall I was thinking 'Oh God, don't let me fall off.' I'd have looked a right idiot, wouldn't I? They were all in tears and I had to fight them back myself to be honest because they nearly strangled me."
Macey set personal bests in the high jump and 400m on the opening day and added another when the decathlon resumed yesterday in the 110m hurdles, clocking 14.34secs, despite having his left thigh heavily strapped.
The former Canvey Island lifeguard still lost his overall lead to Dvorak but clawed some points back in the discus which left him with a lead of 187 points over third–placed Nool going into the pole vault.
But after bowing out of the competition at 4.70m, Macey saw vault expert Nool make his entrance at 5.10 and a later clearance of 5.40 enabled him to snatch second spot overall.
Macey's hopes of silver were finally ended in the javelin when, clearly impaired by the injury, he was almost 10m off his best, leaving him too much to do in the 1500m although the bronze was already secured.
Though he overtook Dvorak a long way from the finish and sprinted past Nool, who is advised by Britain's two–time Olympic and 1983 world champion Thompson, it made no difference other than take him past the 8600 barrier.
Dvorak, who was never in contention in Sydney because of injury, regained the mantle as the world's greatest all–round athlete by emulating American Dan O'Brien's three successive world titles.
"I can say that I am back and I am here to stay," warned the Czech. "I wanted to score 9000 points, but this was not the time for a world record. It's been a hard four years winning these titles but a championship record makes me feel good."