Beijing: Tong Wen delighted the home fans with a dramatic late victory in the women's +78kg category on the final day of the Beijing Olympics judo competition on Friday.
In the men's +100kg Satoshi Ishii helped restore some pride to the deflated Japanese as he defeated Abdullo Tangriev of Uzbekistan to lift the title.
Tong's victory helped raise the roof at the USTB Gymnasium here as she came from behind to stun the Athens champion from four years ago, Maki Tsukada of Japan.
Contested between the best two fighters in the world and the reigning world and Olympic champions it always had the potential to be a classic, and so it was.
Tsukada took the lead with a subtle footsweep to score a minor yuko but fired up and cheered on by a noisy crowd Tong punished a late Tsukada mistake with just 16 seconds remaining to snatch the gold medal.
Maybe the atmosphere got to Tsukada but she needlessly rushed her opponent when all she needed to do was hold on and Tong dropped underneath her to score a stunning ippon with seoi-nage (shoulder throw).
Then men's final produced nothing of the same drama but Ishii ensured that the Olympic crown stayed in Japan following Keiji Suzuki's victory in Athens.
That also allowed Japan to finish top of the medals table, as they invariably do, but it could not paper over the cracks of what has been a disappointing Games for them, most notably their men.
Masato Uchishiba also won gold in the -66kg division but with just two medals from seven men's weight divisions this was the Japanese men's worst ever return from an Olympic event.
The +100kg category was denied the dream final it craved as much-hyped teenage world champion Teddy Riner saw his Olympic gold medal hopes end at the quarter-final stage at the hands of Tangriev.
Frenchman Riner, 19, the talk of the judo world following a dream 2007, had started slowly, needing a minute of over-time golden score to beat Anis Chedly of Tunisia.
He seemed to have found his form in the next round, dismissing Kazakh Yeldos Ikhsangaliyev but he simply could not find a way to defeat Tangriev, eventually falling in the last minute of golden score when he was penalised for negativity.
He battled back, though, to win bronze by beating Lasha Gujejiani of Georgia.
Ishii's biggest test had come in the quarter-finals against Athens silver medallist Tamerlan Tmenov of Russia but he prevailed by virtue of his strong ground fighting.
Tmenov dithered on the floor after a failed attack and was caught by Ishii who secured a hold, only for the Russian to submit when he knew he was beaten.
The second bronze medal was won by Cuba's Oscar Brayson who threw and pinned giant Iranian Mohammadreza Rodaki for the full ippon score.
In the women's +78kg division double world champion Tong repeated her victory over Tsukada in last year's World Championship final in Rio de Janeiro.
Cuba's Idalys Ortiz and Lucija Polavder of Slovenia won the bronze medals, beating Dorjgotov Tserenkhand of Mongolia and Kim Na-Young of South Korea respectively.