TEAM GB star Georgia Taylor-Brown suffered a heartbreaking flat tyre that saw her miss out on gold to Bermuda's Flora Duffy in the women's triathlon.
But after the cruel twist of fate, the 27-year-old performed admirably to bounce back to claim silver but the blow-out will have left her wondering what might have been.
Manchester-born Taylor-Brown was in the leading pack in the last lap of eight in the 40km cycle stage when her rear tyre let her down in treacherous rainy conditions.
She began struggling to keep the bike upright at turns and had to watch her rivals tear off into the distance.
But the 2020 World Triathlon Series champ refused to let it end her race as she heroically battled on for the last 1,000m of the stage.
Leeds-based Taylor-Brown lost 22 seconds on her rivals and ended up transitioning from bike to the 10km run in fifth place.
However, she quickly overtook GB team-mate Jessica Learmonth - who eventually finished ninth.
And German Laura Lindemann was also soon left in her wake.
American Katie Zaferes put up more of a fight as the pair grappled for second spot.
But British sensation GTB drew level just as the pair entered the final lap.
And she made no mistake in the last 2.5km - eventually beating the US star by 13 seconds.
Duffy, 33, finished 1min 14secs ahead of Taylor-Brown - as she became Bermuda's first ever Olympic champion.
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'DONE HER COUNTRY PROUD'
But despite the blow, Brit Taylor-Brown had a smile on her face at the finish line having given her all and done herself and her country proud.
She said: "I had a really good swim and I got out and we had 35 seconds and I thought this is perfect.
"The bike - we worked really well, I got a puncture coming out of the park with about 2k to come and I panicked - I didn't know what to do so I just rode on the flat.
"I lost maybe 15 seconds on the group. The first lap of the run was panic mode. I think I definitely paid for it the latter part of the run but it paid off."
It is just the second medal won by a British female triathlete, coming five years after Vicky Holland’s bronze in Rio.
Duffy’s gold is the first by a Bermudan at Olympic level in history – the least populous nation at a Summer Games to do so – and a first medal since boxing bronze in 1976.
The last time Taylor-Brown and Learmonth were here they were disqualified for holding hands as they crossed the finish line together.
That was two years ago in the Tokyo test event and despite their protests, it contravened the International Triathlon Union rules.
'BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS'
Long before these Games, it was decided to bring this race forward to 9:30am to ensure the best stars would not wilt in the Tokyo heat.
Yet where the hot conditions were a factor for the men 24 hours previously – as Britain’s Alex Yee won silver – that was not the case here.
Indeed it was a case of a Rainbow Bridge over troubled waters after a tropical storm hit Tokyo overnight.
It lashed down with heavy rain in the morning, leaving slippery and slimy pavements underfoot, and the race was delayed by 15 minutes.
The men’s race had been spoiled by a mass false start when a media TV boat had blocked half of the field from diving into the dirty waters.
There were no such dramas this time and Learmonth went on the attack from the 1.5km swim, emerging first out of the water while team-mate Taylor-Brown was fifth.
The pair formed part of a breakaway group of seven on two wheels, who developed more than a minute lead over the rest of the pack.
But the puncture meant Taylor-Brown could not last the pace in the closing 1km of the bike stage.
A shame as she would have fancied her prospects in a foot race. Once again, triathlon is one of those sports which Team GB can rely upon for success at Olympic level.