Kiwi Tom Walsh has repeated his Olympic bronze medal from Rio five years ago, but could find little answer to the awesome power of American world recordholder Ryan Crouser.
At Tokyo International Stadium, the former world champion took an early lead with his 21.09m opener, before Crouser unleashed 22.83m a few throwers later to break the existing Games record and effectively end the competition for gold.
At the US trials in June, the American shattered a 31-year world record with 23.37m, which made him a heavy favourite to successfully defend the Olympic crown he won at Rio 2016.
By the end of the first round, Walsh had slipped to fourth, behind reigning world champion Joe Kovacs and Brazilian Darlan Romani, but improved to third with his second effort of 22.17m.
Fellow Kiwi Jacko Gill dropped out of contention after three rounds, unable to recapture his career-best pre-Games form with 20.71m in ninth.
Kovacs, who pipped Crouser and Walsh by a centimetre for the world title two years ago, consolidated his second placing with 22.65m in the fourth round and 22.29m in the fifth.
Walsh tossed 22.18m with his fifth effort and 22.47m on his last, but the Americans were in another class on the day.
Kovacs challenged Crouser again with his sixth throw of 22.60m, but with the gold medal in his pocket, the repeat champion capped his series with 23.30m - only the second-best of all-time. Five of his six throws would have won the competition.
"I gave myself a chance to throw really well day and I stayed in the fight," Walsh told Sky Sport. "It was my best competition of the year and I felt home out there - it's been a long time since I've felt that."
Walsh has been open about the mental toll COVID-19 isolation has taken on his preparation and was moved to tears that he had overcome that to compete at Tokyo.
"The last 18 months haven't been easy, so to be standing here with the flag on my back is pretty cool."