With a Union flag draped across his shoulders, exhausted but triumphant Alistair Brownlee slowed to walking pace as he crossed the finish in Hyde Park.
Yet if the elder brother's victory elicited roars of delight from crowds in London and his native Leeds, the arrival half-a-minute later of Jonathan Brownlee to snatch bronze, despite a 15-second penalty for a minor infringement of the rules, was greeted with equal if not greater fervour.
Throngs of red, white and blue-clad fans descended on Hyde Park and its surrounds for the mainly non-ticketed event — with crowds 20 to 30 deep at some of the most popular vantage points. They were rewarded with an experience that will live long in the memory.
“To get two of us — two brothers – two British brothers on the podium, you couldn't ask for any more,” said Alistair (24), as Jonathan, two years his junior, was led away in a wheelchair to the resuscitation area after collapsing at the race's climax.
The Brownlees, the hugely popular sons of two doctors from Bramhope in Leeds, look set to boost the popularity of one of the world's fastest growing pursuits.
Yet those with most at stake were the Brownlees' parents, riven with nerves.
Once satisfied their youngest son was all right, the relieved couple described witnessing their sons' success as “unreal” — despite their 40-hour-a-week training schedule.
“You don't think that those boys running through that line and winning those medals are your sons,” said Cath Brownlee. Her husband Keith, a consultant in cystic fibrosis, said he felt “pride, elation, relief — it's wonderful”.