Will Bayley had to settle for a Paralympic silver medal after losing 3-1 to the defending champion Jochen Wollmert in the class seven table tennis final yesterday.
The 24-year-old Brit drew level at one game all but the veteran German proved too strong, completing a hat-trick of Paralympic singles titles with an 11-8, 4-11, 11-5, 11-4 victory.
Bayley, who was born with arthrogryposis, topped the world rankings this year but Wollmert always loomed as his biggest rival for Paralympic gold.
The fifth seed had said before the Games: "We don't talk much. We're not close friends. I'd love to beat him in London."
Bayley was understandably fired up, fist-pumping in celebration with every point he won and he was roared on by the partisan ExCeL Centre crowd. But it was the veteran German who started fastest, opening a 4-1 lead in the opening game before closing it out 11-8.
Bailey, making his Paralympic debut, responded determinedly. He won the first two points of the second game and then fended of a brief rally from Wollmert to take it 11-4 and draw level in the match.
But Wollmert resumed control, riding his luck at times, to take the third game 11-5 and leave Bayley staring down the barrel of a defeat.
When Wollmert opened a 2-0 lead at the start of the fourth game, Bayley called for a time-out but he could not arrest the momentum and the German, who plays points with a backhand, won gold by taking the final game 11-4.
Bayley fell to the ground and appeared to be in tears when Wollmert came over, putting that pre-Games rivalry aside to console the Brit and raise his arm in the air for the home crowd.