A coach's split-second lapse of concentration was all it took to add Sven Kramer's name to a roll call of athletes hit by mishap, mistake or miscalculation when they thought Olympic gold was already in the bag.
Kramer raised an arm in triumph as he crossed the line in Tuesday's 10,000m speedskating only to discover his coach Gerard Kemkers had sent him into the wrong lane, leading to the three letters every athlete fears -- DSQ (disqualified).
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory provides one of the worst feelings in sport -- heartbreaking for the athlete and just as uncomfortable to watch, unless you happen to be the beneficiary or are happy to indulge feelings of Schadenfreude.
Kramer reacted to his disqualification by throwing down his racing glasses in disgust, while South Korea's Lee Seung-hoon celebrated his outrageous fortune.
It will be no consolation, but Kramer is by no means alone in losing a victory that looked signed, sealed and delivered.
Lindsey Jacobellis found one of the more ridiculous ways of denying herself gold in the snowboard cross final in 2006.
Leading by a street, the American decided to showboat at the finish with an unnecessary Method Air jump, lost her balance and allowed Tanja Frieden to race past her for gold.
Other athletes might have endured lectures about hubris but Jacobelli's mistake seemed to fit with the shoulder-shrugging style of the sport itself. Oh well, it happens, was her attitude, which seemed about right somehow.
Australian walker Jane Saville thought she was about to win a home gold in Sydney in 2000 as she came into the stadium only to be red flagged for lifting -- allowing neither of her feet to be in contact with the road for a split second.
She took it a bit harder than Jacobellis. Asked what she needed after the race she replied, A gun to shoot myself.
Italy's Dorando Pietri was physically as well as emotionally exhausted when he crossed the line in the 1908 London marathon only to lose the gold because he had had to be helped up several times on his way to the finish.
Others have been denied in circumstances that were not entirely in their control.
In 1972 the United States men's basketball team were celebrating on court after the players thought the gold medal match had finished while they led by a point.
A match that had already been hugely contentious had one final twist, however, as officials ordered the final three seconds replayed and the Soviet Union nicked the win.
While arguments about that game are still going on, American shooter Matt Emmons knows he only has himself to blame.
It was probably just nerves that cost him in Athens in 2004, as he fired at the wrong target when leading.
He deserves a special mention for throwing gold away again four years later, pulling the trigger too early.
The consolation for Emmons came when a female Czech shooter and commentator came over to him in Athens to commiserate.
By the time Beijing 2008 came around the two were married -- which shows there can be a silver lining to missing gold.