Ravi Kumar Dahiya became only the second Indian wrestler to win a silver medal at the Olympics after losing in the men's Freestyle 57kg title round 4-7 to reigning World champion Zavur Uguev, in Chiba, Japan, on Thursday.
There were expectations that the 23-year Dahiya would become India's youngest Olympic champion, but the Russian defended well to win comfortably.
Dahiya had lost to Uguev at the 2019 World Championships also.
The two-time World champion was too good for the Indian, scoring the first point by pushing Dahiya out of the circle early and repeating the tactic to go ahead 2-0.
Dahiya came back strongly with a superb takedown to level things at 2-2, only for Uguev to regain the lead with another takedown.
Down 2-4 after the first period of three minutes, Dahiya went on the attack at the start of the second period but again the Russian scored, pushing Dahiya out to pick another point and take a 5-2 lead, with two minutes left.
The referee cautioned Dahiya before the Russian scored another takedown to stretch his lead to 7-2.
With just 90 seconds left for the Indian to stage a comeback, Dahiya earned two points with a takedown to reduce the margin to 4-7 with 60 seconds left.
But that all he could do as he went down 4-7.
The wrestler from Nahri village in Haryana had outclassed Colombia's Tigreros Urbano (13-2) in his opener and then outwitted Bulgaria's Georgi Valentinov Vangelov (14-4) in the quarter-finals.
In the semi-finals, he erased a massive 2-9 deficit to pin Nurislam Sanayev.
Heartbreak for Deepak Punia and Vinesh Phogat
Looking at a bigger picture, Dahiya's silver medal will inspire the young generation. However, Vinesh Phogat was left to endure a second consecutive heart-breaking quarter-final exit from the Games after a massive upset by Belarus's Vanesa Kaladzinskaya.
Vinesh had no answer to the supreme defence of Vanesa, who extracted revenge on the Indian on the biggest stage after suffering a similar embarrassing defeat 'by fall' earlier this year in Ukraine.
Later, Vanesa lost her semi-final to China's Qinyu Pang on criteria after the scores were tied 2-2, a result that brought curtains on Vinesh's campaign at the Tokyo Games.
The top-seeded Vinesh, who was a hot favourite for a medal, needed Vanesa to beat the Chinese to re-join the 53kg competition through the repechage round and push for a bronze.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Vinesh suffered a quarter-final defeat against China's Sun Yanan after enduring a leg injury and was stretchered out of the mat.
In the men's freestyle 86kg category, Deepak Punia came agonisingly close to winning a bronze medal on his Olympic debut but conceded a take-down in the last 10 seconds of the play-off against San Marino's Myles Nazem Amine and missed out on it.
Deepak's defence was superb throughout the bout but the San Marino wrestler grabbed the decisive two-pointer after getting hold of the Indian's right leg and converted it into a take-down in dying moments of the bout.
The 22-year-old Indian, son of a milk peddler in a Haryana village, was leading 2-1 before that take-down but it was not meant to be his day.
Deepak made good use of a favourable draw to reach the semi-finals but lost to the formidable American David Morris Taylor.
He earlier got past Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor, the African championship bronze medallist by technical superiority and then prevailed 6-3 over China's Zushen Lin in the quarter-final.
Young Anshu Malik also bowed out of the 57kg competition after losing her repechage round 1-5 to Russia's Valeria Koblova, the Rio Olympics silver medallist.
Anshu never looked intimidated by a stronger opponent and was leading the bout at one stage on criteria but towards the end, the Russian pulled off a two-pointer to nose ahead.
The 19-year-old Indian had lost her opener to European champion Irina Kurachikina but after the Belarusian progressed to the final, she bounced back to be in contention.
India's gold medal hopes now rest on Bajrang Punia, who will begin his campaign on Friday against Kyrgyzstan's Ernazar Akmataliev.
Bajrang has got a decent draw and reaching the semi-finals should not be a problem for him.
Seema Bisla is now the only Indian woman wrestler left in the fray. She will begin her campaign in the 50kg category, where she will face Tunisia's Sarra Hamdi, the African Championships bronze medallist.
If she crosses the first hurdle, she will up against World champion Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan.