New Zealand finally entered the London Olympic medal race on Day Four, as the equestrian eventing team - led by veterans Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson - claimed bronze at Greenwich Park.
With Todd to ride, the Kiwis seemed to have the measure of Sweden for third spot and still had a shot at second. But the two-time individual Olympic champion couldn't put mount Campino, flagging after yesterday's testing cross-country phase, clear through the showjumping course.
He finished with seven penalty points - knocking down one fence and incurring crucial time penalties - and New Zealand lost the silver medal by 6.2 points.
"The team has been brilliant all week, so we'll have a celebration tonight," Todd told SKY Sport, after claiming his sixth Olympic medal. He was also part of team placings at 1992 Barcelona (silver) and 1988 Seoul (bronze).
But the performance also dashed Todd's hopes of snatching a third individual gold medal - after sitting third overnight, he slipped back to seventh with the top 25 individuals to ride again later in the day.
"[Campino] will normally ping off the ground and I was having to help him a bit more than I usually do," Todd said. "He was trying, but his body was saying `I'm really tired'. It was unlucky I had a fence down, but it was lucky I did not have more as well."
Nicholson momentarily had New Zealand ahead late in the showjumping round, guiding Nereo through a clear round with no time faults, and their hopes were further consolidated when the next rider - Swede Ludvig Svennerstal - had eight faults to drop his team further off the medal pace.
But soon after Great Britain reclaimed the lead when Mary King matched Nicholson's performance. Germany made a late run for victory through world champion Michael Jung and somewhat despire a bumbling final run by overnight leader Ingrid Klimke.
New Zealand were always among the event leaders - fourth equal after the dressage stage, fourth after cross country and early pacesetters on the final day through their first three riders - Jonelle Richards, Caroline Powell and Jock Paget.
Paget put the Kiwis on top of table with just one fence down and no time faults about halfway through the round, but they slipped to second when Zara Phillips - the Queen's granddaughter - immediately had Great Britain ahead and a few riders later, Sandra Auffarth moved Germany past with her clear round.
"I'm happy with him," said Paget afterwards. "It's tough out there and it's hard to be clear - he was quick."
Powell returned an identical jumping result, while Richards went clear, but over the 83-second time limit.
Richards, the first Kiwi in action on the final day of eventing, gave an insight to the mood within the New Zealand camp.
"It makes a great difference when you have great chemistry within a team and we have just that," she said.
Nicholson had been one of the form riders over the last two days of competition, having also negotiated the cross country clear with no time penalties. He entered the second jumping round in sixth - one place ahead of Todd - and took the lead briefly with five riders to come.
German Sandra Auffarth immediately went clear to shunt him back into second, but his chances received a boost when Britons Mary King and Tina Cook faltered. With two riders remaining, Nicholson was in the silver-medal position, but Jung went clear and watched as Swede Sara Algotsson Ostholt dropped the last fence to let the gold slip through her fingers.
The Kiwi finished fourth, probably reflecting unhappily on the 10-minute rain delay that disrupted his opening dressage performance. Paget (28) improved to 10th and looks to have a huge future in front of him, while Todd drifted to 12th, unable to lift his young mount one more time.