Canberra-based Jaryd Clifford thought he'd ruined his chances of a maiden world title, when he heard pounding feet on his heels with the finish line of the men's vision-impaired 1500m final in sight.
But the 20-year-old dug deep to stay out in front of Russian Anton Kuliatin and Algeria's Abdellatif Baka to win gold in Dubai on Thursday night on the first night of finals at the world para athletics championships.
"That was hard. I thought I might have gone too early," Clifford said of taking the lead at the bell for the final lap.
"It hurt so much physically, and I just threw up over there," he added, pointing to a rubbish bin near the athlete's call room.
"But it's the best feeling in the world - quite incredible."
Clifford is trained by Philo Saunders and his time of 3min 47.78sec eclipsed his own world record set in Sydney in April this year by 0.11sec.
"To get the Australian team off on the best note possible on the first night of finals here is really special to me.
"I felt a little extra pressure being the first medal event for the Australian team, and I know all my teammates back in the hotel would be watching. I hope I can give them confidence to achieve a medal or whatever they are hoping and aiming for."
The Dubai world championships run for nine days and finish on November 15.
The inspiration for Clifford's 1500m win can be partly attributed to his training partner and fellow Australian teammate in Dubai, Michael Roeger.
He took gold in the London Marathon, setting a new world record for his arm amputee (T46) class.
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"I've had a photo of that on my phone since then. And I've wanted to replicate that moment for myself," Clifford said.
"Because he worked so hard and he's such a great guy."
Clifford has been building to something like this - as a 16-year-old at the Rio Paralympics in 2016 he finished 7th in the 1500m final. Then a year later at the 2017 worlds in London he claimed bronze in the event.
And now for the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020.
"I'm in a generation of vision-impaired runners that are the best in the world," he said.
"Tokyo is going to have a treat watching this race. Although I've won today, when I line up on the start line in Tokyo, this will mean nothing."
But Clifford's Dubai campaign isn't over yet. He will run the 5000m final next Thursday night.
Roeger, however, finished second in the 1500m (T46) class on Thursday night, but was disqualified after a protest. Australian officials had lodged an appeal, but no decision has been made public.