Justine Robbeson won Saturday night's IAAF World Junior Championships heptathlon title with a score of 5868 points in Grosseto.
But the South African was thankful for a marvellous javelin throw which effectively claimed her the gold medal ahead of Viktorija Zemaityte.
Robbeson's monster javelin throw of 54.16m in the penultimate event of the gruelling seven disciplines, gave her a 238 points cushion, ahead of her nearest rival.
It seemed certain the gold medal was destined to fall into African hands for the first time in the Championship's 18 years history.
But then in the 800 metres, Robbeson trailing the field finished last and 150 metres behind the winner Marina Goncharova of Russia in a time of 2min 35.20sec.
Fortunately for the 19-year-old from north of Johannesburg, Zemaityte of Lithuania although setting a personal best of 2min 21.07sec, didn't manage to open up a big margin to claim victory.
A nailbiting countdown saw Robbeson claim victory by just 58 points with Germany's Julia Machtig third with a tally of 5679pts.
"Pathetic!," was Robbeson's desciption of her two laps toil around the Italian city's Olympic Stadium.
"I'd gone flat out in every other event and there was just nothing there," said South Africa's first gold medallist on the fifth day of the Championships.
It's something I'll be working, but honestly I think I have proved a point," said Robbeson who missed the last Championships two years ago, injured.
"I've been working on coming here and winning ever since then as some folk didn't think I would get back from my broken ankle. But I have and I won," said the jubilant champion.
Robbeson fourth overnight and trailing the British leader Jessica Ennis by 136 points, was in unstoppable form, topping both the long jump and javelin leaderboards when the action resumed.
A long jump of 6.14m lifted her into second place behind Kathrin Geissler of Germany then in the javelin her huge season's best, effectively won her the gold medal.
Robbeson with two other throws over 50 metres, for the first time in the seven event discipline went to the top of the score sheet.
Dmitry Starodubtsev raising his personal best by 20cm, claimed a third succesive victory for Russia in the pole vault with a clearance of 5.50m.
Argentinia's German Chiaraviglio won the silver medal with a height of 5.45m,with Liu Feiliang of China third clearing 5.40m.
Ronald Rutto became the ninth successive Kenyan to win the 3,000m steeplechase gold medal in a personal best time of 8min 23.32sec.
Rutto's dip for the line,gave him a narrow 0.06sec victory ahead of Obaid Amer who set a Qatar National record ahead of team-mate Moustafa Shebto who clocked 8min 26.04sec.
Jebichi Yator then won another gold medal for the Kenyan's slicing 13 seconds from her fastest-ever 3,000m time.
Safa Aissaoui set a Tunisian record to clinch the silver medal in 9min 02.47sec with Morocco's Siham Hilali, making it an African clean sweep with a personal best 9min 03.16sec behind her.
Denisa Scerbova's first round clearance of 6.61m won her the long jump ahead of Germany's Sophie Krauel (6.47m) and Veronika Shutkova from Belarusia with a best of 6.22m.
Shot putter Michelle Carter produced her furthest ever shot put of 17.55m in the final round, to win ahead Russia's Anna Avdeyeva (17.13m) with Germany's Christina Schwanitz throwing 16.52m for third place.
Andrey Ruzavin won the 10,000m walk in a time of 40min 58.15sec to take the 25 laps title from fellow Russian Vladimir Kanaykin (40:58.48) with Korea's Kim Hyun-sup claiming the bronze medal in 40:59.24.