Jared Tallent desperately wanted to be an Olympic champion for more than a couple of months.
But if he had to come up just short in his 50km walk title defence, this was a much better sort of second.
So often in the past, Tallent has been edged out for top spot at major walking races by athletes he knew were cheats.
The outspoken Australian anti-doping campaigner only received the 50km gold medal from the 2012 London Olympics in June this year after Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin was finally stripped of the title for a drug offence.
Tallent looked set to get his deserved moment in the sun in Rio on Friday when he hit the front at the 40km mark, only for his legs to go with just two of the 25 laps remaining.
One lap later and he was mowed down by reigning world champion Matej Toth, who motored away to claim the gold in three hours 40 minutes and 58 seconds.
It was Slovakia's first summer Olympics gold medal in any sport other than canoe slalom.
A flagging Tallent hung tough to grab the silver in 3:41:16.
Hirooki Arai from Japan crossed the line in third spot but was later disqualified, handing the bronze medal to Tallent's training partner Evan Dunfee from Canada.
"I really wanted it and I thought I had it," said Tallent.
"I probably got a bit too excited.
"I was feeling really good, I was patient all throughout the race and just when I needed to be a little more patient I went for it at the 40km mark.
"... I gave it everything.
"It would have meant so much to have held on and got the gold here."
Tallent paid tribute to gold medallist Toth and the other contenders.
"I didn't have to worry about any cheats in the race who were going to spoil the party for all the clean athletes," he said.
"It will be great to have a clean podium again and I'll be proud to stand up there with those other blokes.
"It's very different to London.
"There are no suspicions this time around."
A sore hamstring prompted Tallent to withdraw from the 20km race earlier in the Games.
The 32-year-old is the first Australian male track and field athlete to win four Olympic medals.
Fellow Australian Chris Erickson set a PB of 3:48:40 to finish ninth and Brendon Reading was 39th on his Olympic debut.
World record holder Yohann Diniz set the early pace, only to collapse at the 35km mark.
The Frenchman got up to finish seventh, almost six minutes off the pace.