His event came on the final day of competition.
And while the result wasn't where he had targeted, Haislan Garcia's seventh-place finish in the men's 66kilogram freestyle wrestling division on Sunday at the London 2012 Olympics was a major stride forward.
Arriving home with his Canadian Olympic teammates on Monday, Garcia said the greeting was incredible.
"It was crazy, very nice," said Garcia. "People were screaming, waving their [Canadian] flags. It felt like we were superstars."
Cracking the top-10 was a big step forward for the Coquitlam resident, who four years ago placed 16th in Beijing in his Olympics debut.
"I really wanted to win a medal because that is what you come for," Garcia told The NOW after arriving in Vancouver on Monday.
"It's a tournament, so every time you go to a tournament you expect to win, not lose."
His final match would have spirited him into the battle for bronze. After winning his first match by forfeit over a Tunisian wrestler, Garcia smoothly handled Zalimkhan Yusupov of Tajikistan 2-0, 0-2, 2-0 to advance to the quarterfinals.
That's where he ran up against 2011 world silver medalist Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu of Japan, who prevailed 0-1, 1-0, 5-0.
That put Garcia in the repechage match against eventual bronze medal winner Livan Lopez Azcuy of Cuba. And that's where the journey ended.
"He was very tough - it was for a shot at a medal and it was tight- It didn't feel good to lose, but after I went away and chatted with my coach some of the [disappointing] feeling went away. But it still hurts."
The 29-year-old Garcia entered the Olympics after a frenzied year of grappling which saw him earn his position with a huge victory at the Pan American Olympic qualifier earlier this year in Florida.
Since Beijing, Garcia has accumulated numerous podium finishes, including back-to-back silvers at the Pan Am wrestling championships and consecutive bronzes at the Pan Am Games.
Nothing can top competing at the Olympics, he said. The whole experience as an athlete is unparalleled, beginning with the first moments.
"The opening ceremonies were pretty special, you're with your teammates and coaches, you walk into a huge stadium on behalf of your country and everyone's watching - you feel like a superstar."