Tom Daley won diving bronze for Great Britain with a nerveless display in the men's 10m platform, as USA's David Boudia took gold.
Roared on by a sell-out crowd of 17,500, the 18-year-old delivered six dives of consistent excellence.
China's Qiu Bo, the world champion and firm favourite coming into the final, had to settle for silver.
"The main aim here was to get a medal," said Daley. "Olympic bronze medal - I can't believe it!"
Bo settling for silver seemed unlikely on Friday evening when he dominated the qualifying session,
with Daley down in 15th.
But Daley gave a glimpse of his fine form this season in Saturday morning's semi-final, only to save the very best until it really mattered.
"Boudia was a class act. A masterclass. But well done Tom Daley. Under all that pressure and expectation, he delivered six out of six dives. I do not have the words to express how proud I am. What an achievement."
The British star took a tiny lead into the last round of dives, but needed to be perfect as his closest rivals were both trying more technically difficult dives.
The Plymouth-born teenager nearly managed it, but his score of 90.75 left him vulnerable to Boudia and Bo diving after him.
Boudia rose to the challenge, nailing his effort to score 102.60, 1.80 points better than Qiu's effort, which proved to be the winning margin for the American.
Daley's total was 9.90 points lower than Qiu's, but there was no sense of disappointment from the Brit or his entourage.
Whilst Boudia celebrated with his coach and team-mate Nicholas McCrory, Daley's friends and family threw him into the pool and jumped in afterwards to celebrate a famous medal.
"To be honest, I was very nervous. I went in to it with a do-or-die mentality," said Daley.
"I put everything into it. I was in first place going into the last round, but didn't have the degree of difficulty I needed [to hold on for gold]."
Tom Daley collects Olympic bronze medal
It could have all been so very different for Daley who, amid considerable confusion in the packed Aquatics Centre, told his coach Andy Banks that he had been put off by flashes from cameras in the crowd during his first dive.
After a brief discussion, the judges granted Daley a re-dive and he grabbed his second chance to score 91.80 points, 16.20 more than his first effort.
Daley finished over 29 points ahead of fourth-placed diver Victor Minibaev, meaning he would have won bronze regardless of the re-dive.
"The retaken dive is one downside to having a home crowd," he said.
A bronze medal - only the seventh medal Britain has ever won in Olympic diving - more than makes up for the disappointment of
finishing fourth in the 10m synchronised event with Peter Waterfield last week.
It is also an indication of what Daley can still achieve in the sport and a fitting tribute to his beloved father, who died of cancer last year.