Chen Long shattered Malaysia's dream of a first Olympic gold medal as Lee Chong Wei lost the men's badminton final for the third time in a row.
World number one Lee, who beat Chen in the London 2012 semi-finals, was seeking to make national history in Rio, but had to settle for another silver as he was beaten 21-18 21-18.
Chen's compatriot Lin Dan - who topped the podium at the last two Games - lost the bronze medal match to Denmark's Viktor Axelsen, but the sizeable Chinese contingent in the crowd were soon back in full voice.
Their man took a 4-1 lead in the opening game and, despite later facing a 13-9 deficit, he fought back to seize the advantage, having benefitted from a couple of challenges along the way.
Lee was frequently the aggressor, but Chen's defensive abilities kept him in rallies until his rival made a mistake - usually at the net.
With Chen having beaten Lee in the 2015 World Championships final, he appeared to have the mental edge, providing an answer to any question the Malaysian could pose.
However, Lee again forged ahead in game two to lead 8-5, before errors started to creep back in and Chen took six consecutive points to set up his victory.