Indian archer Satyadev Prasad came close to upsetting men's top seed Im Dong Hyun of South Korea before losing 165-167 on the last arrow in a dramatic duel in the individual archery competition at the Olympic Games in Athens on Thursday.
Prasad, who turns 26 next month, led his formidable opponent 139-138 at the end of the fifth and penultimate series, but Im displayed superb concentration and accuracy to reverse the course of the pre-quarter-final in the last series.
The Korean, who won the individual silver in the World Championship last year, levelled scores at 147, picking nine points with his first arrow in the last series even as Prasad had to be satisfied with a nine pointer.
Both archers then hit ten pointers with their next arrows as the fight went to the wire at the historic Panathinaiko stadium.
With the fate of the tie depending on the 18th and last shot, the Korean hit a nine pointer, but Prasad, apparently a bundle of nerves, could score only seven points and bowed out of the competition.
Prasad, who finished a lowly 48th in the ranking round before getting the better of Japan's Yuji Hamano and Ron van der Hoff of The Netherlands in the first two rounds, hit seven ten-pointers and also found the bull's eye once in the pulsating contest.
The Indian returned impressive scores of 26, 29, 26, 29 and 29 in the first five series, while the Korean scored 27, 28, 26, 30 and 27. The 18-year-old Im had a fairytale fifth series during which he hit the bull's eye with each of his three arrows.
Prasad's effort brings the curtain down on the Indian campaign in the individual event, with Reena Kumari, the last of the surviving eves, bowing out of contention on Wednesday.
The nation's attention will now be focused on the team event where the Indian women will take on a comparatively weak Great Britain on Friday, before the men lock horns with Australia on Saturday.
Prasad's valiant effort provides a ray of hope ahead of the opening round clash against the strong Aussies, who finished seventh in the ranking round, two rungs higher than the Indians.
Both the men, who finished fourth in the World Championship, and women archers, who ended sixth, will need to keep their cool at crucial moments to realise their dream of winning an Olympic medal.
Im will be 18 years, 99 days old on the day of the individual gold medal final and 18 years, 101 days old on the day of the team gold-medal final. If he wins gold in either event, he will be the youngest male champion in the history of Olympic archery.