Katherine Grainger has dedicated her Olympic triumph in the women's double sculls to the British public.
Grainger, who won silver at the last three Games, produced a stunning row with Anna Watkins to win her first Olympic gold medal.
Grainger told BBC Sport: "It's the people's medal. I've felt so many people behind me who have wanted it as much as I have.
"That makes it so much more special."
Before the Games, much of the rowing discussion had centred on whether the 36-year-old Grainger would be able to turn Olympic silver into gold at the fourth attempt.
She won a surprise medal in Sydney, then a silver in Athens. But, as favourite for gold in the women's quad event at the Beijing Games in 2008, she lost out to China, a result that left her in tears on the victory rostrum.
Grainger took some time out after that Games before deciding to carry on.
"Winning an Olympic medal is phenomenal in itself but having had three in the past, which for me were not the right colour, meant that gold became the one that I wanted," she added.
"Had I not won gold would I have felt unfulfilled? In a word, yes. As a person, I would have felt happy and secure, but, as an athlete, gold was what I felt I should get.
"The Olympic Games means so much to me. It's part of me."
The partnership with Watkins gave Grainger a wonderful chance to win the Olympic title she desperately craved.
Grainger said: "As soon as Anna and I got together, we knew we had potential to be best in the world. From then on, it was really about living up that potential."
The pair have been unbeaten since teaming up in 2010 and were clear favourites to win at Eton Dorney. With most of the 30,000-strong crowd roaring them on, Grainger finally turned from bridesmaid to bride.
Watkins added: "I knew we had won it just before halfway when we led by nearly a length. In the last 100m, with the home crowd cheering, there was just no way we were not going to do it. We had time to enjoy it, which is more than you could dream of."
After climbing out of the boat, Grainger headed over to the interview area where she wrapped her arms around five-time gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave, whom she has described as her "rock".
"He wasn't saying much," said Grainger. "He just knew how much it means.
"On the podium, we knew how special it was. It was the fulfilment of a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I don't think it will sink in for a while, but the feeling on the rostrum was everything we hoped it would be."
Watkins added: "I suppose the only sad thing about today is that we may not row together again. We're going to take some time out over the next few months and see our friends and family."
Grainger, who will be 40 by the time of the next Games in Rio, added: "We have spent the last three years together and sometimes we have discussed beyond London.
"But we were both aware there was this special day in history where we were going to have the race of our lives and we didn't really think beyond it. We've not made any plans yet."