Adam Peaty’s smile said it all. As wide as Christ the Redeemer’s outstretched arms, it lit up Rio more spectacularly than any carnival as he claimed Great Britain’s first gold of these Olympic Games.
With his friends and family watching poolside and his proud Nan back home, winning the hearts of the nation with her tweeting, Peaty delivered for himself and for all those who stayed up into the early hours.
And this was a performance worth a day of stifling yawns at work to savour and enjoy.
Nicknamed ‘The Gladiator’ by his coach Mel Marshall, the 21-year old ruthlessly slayed all comers and became the first British man to win an Olympic swimming gold since Adrian Moorhouse, 28 long years ago in Seoul.
This was more than a victory - his time of 57.13 seconds took four tenths off the world record he had set in the heats, while he beat his nearest rival, South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh, by over a second and a half.
It was a remarkable performance that left seasoned observers shaking their heads and a swim of such confidence that his supporters were never really worried about the result, it was over after 20 metres.
“I touched the wall, looked to my left and wondered where everyone was,” he said.
“That swim for me was probably my best executed race. Coming off the Worlds last year I was a bit anxious, I wasn’t aware of what it was going to be like to compete on the world stage.
“People think you need so much to become an Olympic gold medallist but you really don’t. All you’ve got to do is put 100 per cent effort in each day. My parents have been there from the absolute start and they’ve kept me grounded.
“They’ve never once said you can’t do this, they’ve always pushed me forward.
“We’ve done so much in the history of the country and I take that into every swim I do. To represent the Queen, to represent the country and the people at home is an absolute honour for me.
“London meant so much to me and it really inspired me. So hopefully for the children and teenagers back home just push every day and don’t give up.”
Last year his exploits - when he became the first swimmer to win three golds at a single World Championships - brought Peaty into the mainstream.
This victory will shoot him into the stratosphere, another level of sporting stardom.
Four years ago, in that storied summer of gold, silver and bronze, it took Team GB five days of competition before they finally topped the podium, Peaty’s dominant display has trimmed that to just two days in Rio.
And they say success breeds success - within ten minutes team-mate Jazz Carlin had doubled the medal tally with a 400m freestyle silver behind peerless American Katie Ledecky.
Peaty’s world record in the heats set the tone but too often other swimmers have peaked too soon, the adrenaline surging out of control with the emotion of the occasion with lactic and cruel reality kicking in just when it wasn’t needed.
But Peaty’s too cool, too calm and too collected for all that. He strode as purposefully to the podium as he swum in the pool - and you could forgive his swagger.
Peaty’s journey to this moment has been seven years in the making, as long as Rio have had to prepare for these Games.
And coach Melanie Marshall has been at the heart of that success - admitting she was all choked up as she watched her charge belt out the national anthem.
“She one of the best coaches in the world. She understands every athlete's need but she didn't need to get me pumped up. Down that last 50m I knew I was winning,” added Peaty.
“Me and Mel thought the best possible race we could do in this meet was 57.3 so 57.1, I had to slap myself after that race. It’s incredible.
“We operate in a different way, we push forward every single day. Some days we are going to be beaten down, some days we are not going to perform but it just shows that we are going to bounce back. We are always pursing excellence.
“I want to push the boundaries in the next cycle and do things that no one else has done before. Saying that, we’re obsessed with self improvement, obsessed with pushing Team GB forward.
“I never want to stand on the blocks as Team GB and not give it 100 per cent.
“This next cycle is all about restarting, enjoying it for the first couple of years maybe and then getting a home run for the next Olympics.”
So a wait of nearly three decades for a British Olympic men’s swimming gold medallist is over.
Peaty is just 21 - you have to think the next podium won’t be quite so long in the making.
By James Toney, Sportsbeat, in Rio