With 2.4 seconds left to fence, it looked as if Elisa Di Francisca would complete a miraculous comeback to retain her 2012 women's individual foil gold medal.
Instead, Russia's Inna Deriglazova fought off Di Francisca's final attack, holding on to win the gold medal bout by a score of 12-11.
Deriglazova failed to score a single touch during a tense first period as Di Francisca took a 3-0 lead. It looked more than likely that an Italian would win the gold medal in women's foil for the fifth consecutive Olympics.
A resurgent second period from the Russian changed all that.
This time, it was Di Francisca who was unable to score. Deriglazovia pressed for seven unanswered touches, and with just one encounter remaining, took a four-point lead.
Di Francisca brought the score to 7-6 early in the third period, but Deriglazova responed in short order to take a 12-7 lead with less than a minute remaining.
To recover five touches in less than a minute against any opponent is a diffuclt task. Against a world champion like Deriglazova, it's a near-impossiblilty. Di Francisca came within seconds of doing the impossible.
The Italian delivered an onslaught of precise attacks to pull within to one touch, 12-11. She scored the 11th with a mere 2.4 seconds remaining, enough time to mount a final desperation lunge.
That lunge came up empty as time expired. Deriglazova ripped off her mask in triumph when she realized what the tripple zeroes meant.
She is the first Russian to win the event since Elena Novikova-Belova did so in 1968 for the Soviet Union.