Alex Yee scorched to Tokyo silver and embraced his status as the heir to the Brownlee brothers' Olympic throne.
The 23-year-old star ensured Team GB's unparalleled record in the sport continued with sixth British swim, bike, run medal.
Yee got exactly the race he wanted, with the swim and bike stages failing to produce a conclusive breakaway.
His 7:38 10km run in broiling heat couldn't catch Norway's Kristian Blummenfelt, but was more than enough to clamber onto the Olympic podium.
"It hasn’t really sunk in quite yet, it doesn’t feel real like it’s me," he said.
"I still feel like a normal boy from south east London. I hope I can serve as inspiration to people to show this is possible. I’m not anything special, I just really enjoy sport and have been really lucky."
They had waited five years but needed to hold on a further five minutes after a bizarre false start, with half of the field obstructed by a camera boat and several called back onto the pontoon.
As is his wont Brownlee was one of the fastest in the water and came out in eighth having covered the 1500m in 17:49 - Vincent Luis ten seconds ahead in the lead.
Yee was in touch and 30 seconds behind Luis, splitting third fastest in first transition.
World champion Luis, who swept the board in global races in 2020, led an early bike breakaway that morphed into a nine-strong leading group with a slender 14-second lead through lap one.
Yee took a hard turn on the first bike lap to try to take the sting out of the attack, and it was successful with the race merging into an unwieldy group of 28 halfway through the 40km ride.
Of the decision to go hard early on the bike, he said: “For me, I’ve learnt that I don’t want to be a passive racer. That’s not the person I want to be, I want to take the race to people.
"I don’t want circumstances and luck to force my hand, I want to do it myself.
"If that meant I wasn’t a good enough runner on the day, that’s what it is. I wouldn’t change anything and I get a bit more respect that way."
The Brit wound his pace right down to conserve energy for that run with the mercury rising in Tokyo, seventh to whip his shoes on and immediately running into a prominent position.
Yee, capable of a sub-14 minute Parkrun, lifted his cadence at 5km and the front-running group was cut to six, with Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt and Kiwi Hayden Wilde taking closest order and Brownlee hanging tough. That was the order in which they took the bell.
As always Blummenfelt's expression was etched with pain but 2021's form triathlete made a decisive move on the final lap, with Yee unable to respond.
He raised his fist to a small gaggle of British support staff gathered in the stand with a view of Tokyo's rainbow bridge, 11 seconds behind gold and nine ahead of bronze.
“I think I probably timed it a bit wrong and left it a bit late to close the gap to Kristian," Yee reflected.
"Once I got halfway across it, I think I was pretty cooked and I started to feel the heat. I had a good heat strategy and felt comfortable up to that point, but Kristian was the man on the day.
"I was on the start line with the clarity that I’d done everything I physically could have to get to that line in the best possible shape.
"I’ve had the best possible preparation I could have, I know a lot of people haven’t, so I’m really lucky in that sense. Second was the best possible result for me on the day."
Brownlee claimed an excellent fifth place in conditions that didn't suit him, 49 seconds down on Blummenfelt and nearly 30 off the podium.
"It came down to 18 months of preparation on the run and that's what I had," said Brownlee.
"I couldn't have done any better. I've got to be proud of myself, I trained as hard as I could and raced as hard as I could.
"I've been very fortunate to have two Olympic Games and have two medals. Now I've performed well in three, although it wasn't enough to get three medals."