After the agony of David Florence’s last-placed finish on Tuesday, British kayaker Clarke lit up a gloomy Whitewater Stadium with the race of his life.
Clarke not only won Britain’s first Olympic medal in the men’s K1 since Campbell Walsh at Athens 2004 but secured gold in a time of 88.53 seconds.
A jubilant Clarke was stunned by his success.
“I just can’t really put it into words,” he said. “I’m just so made up.
“I have so many amazing memories of this sport and this just tops all of them in one day.”
Clarke admitted his new status as Olympic canoe slalom champion was one to savour.
“It has a nice ring to it,” he said.
“Everything pieced together so nicely. I knew I was capable but to put down that run in the Olympic final, it is a dream come true.
“I have spent a lot of time here, I know this course like the back of my hand and it has paid off.
“There has been lots of ups and downs but it is just fantastic
“When I woke up I struggled to have breakfast I was so nervous with all the emotions. I thought if it goes to plan I could come away with a medal but to be Olympic champion it is something you dream about.”
Steven Scott won a bronze medal in the men’s double trap at Deodoro after beating Great Britain team-mate Tim Kneale in a head-to-head contest.
Both men failed to reach the gold medal match, and then faced a shoot-out with James Willett to decide which two progressed into the scrap for third, with the Australian missing out to leave the two Britons to fight it out for the final podium position.
And it was 31-year-old Scott, from Sussex, who produced the goods, beating Kneale 30-28 and giving Britain a second shooting bronze medal of the Rio Games after Ed Ling finished third in the trap on Monday.
Sally Conway secured an unexpected bronze medal for Great Britain in the judo.
The 29-year-old from Edinburgh beat Bernadette Graf of Austria in a tense contest in the -70kg category, securing victory with a single throw midway through the contest.
Conway, who was knocked out at the last-16 stage in the same category at London 2012, raised her hands above her head in delight at the end.
Chris Froome was satisfied after giving his all in pursuit of Olympic gold, only to fall short in yesterday’s road time-trial.
Fabian Cancellara rolled back the years to win a second Olympic time-trial gold as Froome had to settle for a second bronze.
Froome was bidding to emulate Sir Bradley Wiggins by winning the Tour de France and Olympic gold in the same year, 17 days after riding into Paris in the yellow jersey for a third time.
But Cancellara, in his final season and winner of Olympic gold in Beijing eight years ago, had other ideas.
The 35-year-old Swiss, who won the last of his four world titles in 2010, completed the 54.5-kilometres course in one hour 12 minutes 15.42 seconds.
Froome finished in 1hr 13mins 17.54secs to place third, behind Cancellara and Tom Dumoulin of Holland, who took silver in 1:13:02.83.
“No regrets today,” said Froome.
“I gave it everything I had. I was absolutely dead by the finish line.
“Maybe if I had only come in five or 10 seconds behind him I might have been questioning if I could’ve gone any faster, but a minute clear of me, (Cancellara) was by far the strongest guy out there.
“It was tough conditions. I tried to hold something back for the second lap but just didn’t have the legs to really push on.
“It’s been an amazing summer. The Tour was the big target for me. To come here and to try to back it up and to come away with a medal is really special.”
British Cycling programmes director Andy Harrison has denied any suggestion of friction between Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish ahead of the Rio Olympics track programme beginning today.
Cavendish on Tuesday expressed frustration at being overlooked for a team pursuit spot in Rio, appearing to accuse “hero” Wiggins of freezing him out.
Harrison said: “There’s no issues. There’s no needle at all.
“These are two of the best riders that GB has ever produced and they’ve got big personalities. That’s fine.
“I’m more interested in what they’ll do on the bike, rather than what they say in front of a camera.”
Wiggins is looking for a fifth Olympic gold and British record eighth medal in all when the four-man, four-kilometres team pursuit begins today and concludes tomorrow. Cavendish is still looking for his first and says he left the Tour de France early to be considered for a round of the team pursuit, in which Yorkshire’s Ed Clancy will feature.
Qais Ashfaq was the fifth British boxer to exit the competition when he was beaten by Thailand’s Chatchai Butdee in his opening bantamweight bout.
The Leeds fighter looked distinctly off the pace as he was dominated by his smaller rival, losing every round on all the judges’ cards.
Butdee, the 2015 Asian Games champion, was sharper in the first and the bout was effectively over after Ashfaq was floored by a jolting left hand midway through the second.
Ashfaq, who trains in Sheffield, said: “I know I am well capable of beating guys like that, but I’m a strong believer in what is meant to be will be and it wasn’t my night.
“I just wasn’t myself. It was a long wait to box and I’m not used to that, but that’s not an excuse, on the night I was beaten by the better kid.
“I’m in the best shape of my life. I guess he’s a lot older than me, he’s been to three Olympics and that maybe helped him.”