It was a "crazy" high-stakes routine that risked everything in the pursuit of gold.
Epke Zonderland had linked together the three most difficult moves in the high bar discipline, but the Dutch gymnast knew if he fluffed any one of them it would lead to humiliation on the world's biggest sporting stage.
The omens were not promising. A few short weeks before the London 2012 Olympics, as defending European champion he fell off the apparatus and finished 56th.
But Zonderland knew that to beat the best in the world he had to persist with his plan. and on the afternoon of Tuesday August 7, he produced one of the most memorable moments of a Games defined by its iconic sporting achievements.
"I was really focused and not thinking about the past or the future but just of the moment," he told CNN's Human to Hero series.
"The routine was going so fast but by the end of it I was getting more relaxed, and then I did the dismount -- and when I landed the dismount it was the best feeling I ever had."
From the moment the 26-year-old spun off the bar to come down flush on the mat without a hint of a wobble or further movement, he knew the gold was his.
"It was a perfect landing so it was a really great feeling and the crowd was going wild," he recalled.
After a nervous two-minute wait for the score, Zonderland was confirmed in first place with a massive 16.533 points, beating Germany's Fabian Hambuechen into silver on 16.400 with defending champion Zou Kai of China third on 16.366.
The "Flying Dutchman" -- his rather predictable nickname -- was indeed flying high and returned home as a hero to win a string of awards -- as well being named to the Order of Orange-Nassau, one of the highest honors in the Netherlands.
The YouTube clips of his performance have become a big viral online hit, and he is regularly named in polls of top performances in the 2012 Games.
It's all down to pulling off a sequence of complex moves -- named after former gymnasts.
"The first is the cassina, you have a double somersault and then straight, and you make one turn," he explains.
"The second is the kovacs, a double-somersault and then tucked, with your legs, and the third one is the kolman, and it's a double-somersault tucked with one turn."
Zonderland had become renowned as the only gymnast to regularly perform two of the difficult moves in succession, but to perform three had many shaking their head.
"A lot of people thought that I was crazy because I wanted to do it on the Olympics, because they thought the risk was too big.
"I think I surprised a lot of people to really do it."
For many, such a triumph would be the signal to bow out, but not only is Zonderland setting his sights on the next Olympics in Rio in 2016, he is also combining up to 30 hours per week training with medical studies.
"Of course it's a hard combination. I have a little bit less time for other things but it's great I can do sport at this level and get a great education," said Zonderland, who aims to be an orthopedic doctor.
Immediate motivation comes in his desire to win his first world title after finishing second at two championships.
"It's the one big goal I have left," he admitted.
"It's getting harder and harder to compete at this level but I think I can manage to continue until the next Olympics when I'm 30."
Having started gymnastics training when he was four in the town of Heerenveen, Zonderland will have been in his sport for over a quarter of a century come the next Games, gradually building up the intensity of his efforts.