Karina Bryant claimed Britain's second judo medal of London 2012 by winning Olympic bronze in the women's +78kg.
“I'm not sure this will definitely be my last Games. I've had an amazing career and now I have this medal”
She beat Ukraine's Iryna Kindzerska to take third, admitting: "I'm lost for words. I'm just trying to keep my head together. It's not sunk in yet.
"I've dreamt of getting a medal since I was a kid and I couldn't ask for a better stage than this."
Cuba's Idalys Ortiz won gold by decision against Japan's Mika Sugimoto, who beat Bryant in the semi-final.
Bryant, 33, went behind to a waza-ari in her bronze medal contest but levelled with a waza-ari on the counter to huge roars from the crowd.
She conceded a yuko but scored a second waza-ari, which, added to the first, gave her an ippon and victory.
It is a second judo medal for GB's women after
the silver won by Gemma Gibbons
in the -78kg category on Thursday.
"Karina deserves this medal more than anyone. She has come through the disappointment of the last Games and produced a really gutsy performance. Kindzerska is a dangerous fighter, but Karina came into the match in form and produced a brilliant counter. She fought so well and waited for her moment."
Bryant said the performance of Gibbons had given her a lift.
"She was a complete underdog," said Bryant. "It made me so emotional. I was definitely inspired, but also a little nervous."
Bryant said she had found it hard to fund her bid for an Olympic medal but said she was not ruling out competing at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"I'm not sure this will definitely be my last Games," she said. "I really felt I had unfinished business. I've had an amazing career and now I have this medal.
"This is my fourth Olympic Games, but I've really enjoyed it. I don't want to focus on what happens after this. I won't rule out Rio just yet."
She added: "Although I had lottery funding, I've really struggled financially. It's been hard. My car kept breaking down.
Karina Bryant reacts to bronze win
"My mum helped me financially. Then a lovely couple, Roger and Heather, also came in and helped me out."
Bryant already has four European Championship golds and seven World Championship medals to her name, but her bronze at the ExCel provided a first medal in four Olympics appearances.
She had missed six months of the 2011 season with a neck injury but a month-long training camp in Japan at the start of 2012 helped to get her into shape for the Games.