Now it is leaving again after teenager Keshorn Walcott from Trinidad and Tobago pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in the track and field program with a throwing action developed from playing cricket as a kid.
"It hasn't caught up with me yet. I can't really believe what I've done," Walcott said after he gave his Caribbean nation its first Olympic title in a field event.
"Making the semifinal was great for me," Walcott said. "Then coming to the end of the competition, I was realizing I'm still in front."
Walcott, the world junior champion at 19, threw a national record 84.58 metres with his second attempt and nobody improved on the mark for the remainder of the final.
As a youngster, he was a bowler in cricket, and then he found out that "the action is kind of similar to javelin."
Antti Ruuskanen of Finland, who took third place behind Oleksandr Pyantnytsya of Ukraine, was asked what it feels like to be beaten by someone from Trinidad and Tobago in the javelin.
"It never feels so good. But it's good for javelin," Ruuskanen said.
Now Walcott wants his cricket-loving nation to keep paying attention to javelin.
"It wasn't the most popular event in Trinidad and Tobago. Hopefully now it will be known more," Walcott said.
AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray in London contributed to this report.