Anna Vyakhireva declared herself "the happiest woman in the world right now" after leading Russia to handball gold at Rio 2016.
Vyakhireva scored five goals as Russia - silver medallists behind Norway eight years ago - beat France 22-19 in the Future Arena to secure their first Olympic title.
"I'm so happy," said the 21-year-old. "We were the best team and we really believed in it, the whole group.
"It means everything for my sporting life. This is everything I have lived for."
Russia conceded first on Saturday, but after drawing level they were never behind again, Daria Dmitrieva and Polina Kuznetsova scoring four apiece in support of Vyakhireva.
France, for whom Siraba Dembele and Allison Pineau scored five apiece, pulled level at 14-14 midway through the second half.
Yet Russia - who had inflicted France's only prior defeat in the tournament during the group stage, soon pulled clear again to earn gold. Norway had earlier beaten Netherlands 36-26 to take bronze.
The men's final takes place on Sunday, with France's men - seeking a third successive Olympic title - up against Denmark.