Commonwealth champion David Davies took bronze in the 1500m final of the World Championships in Melbourne on Sunday.
Davies' World bronze could earn direct entry to the 2008 Olympics
The Welshman was never able to head Mateusz Sawrymowicz, the 19-year-old Pole who won in 14min 45.91sec.
Russia's Yuri Prilukov, the European champion, finished second in 14:51.21, with Davies third in 14.47.29.
Davies could now be guaranteed a place for the 2008 Olympics under plans put forward by Great Britain swimming chief Bill Sweetenham.
The national performance director wants to guarantee selection for Beijing to Britons who finish in the top four in Melbourne, although it must be approved by the British Olympic Association.
That would see Davies and the other British success stories at the World Championships exempt from next year's Olympic trials and instead able to concentrate on the European Championships in March.
Sunday's final proved it is now the Europeans who have the upper hand in the 1500m, despite the much-heralded return of four-time winner Grant Hackett.
Hackett, who is returning after injury, struggled home seventh while American Larsen Jensen, the Olympic silver medalist, was fourth behind Davies.
Swansea-based Matthew Clay, from Taunton, also claimed a creditable fifth place in the 50m backstroke final, swimming 25.32.
South Africa's Gerhard Zandberg took gold in 24.98, with Thomas Rupprath of Germany second and Clay's fellow Briton Liam Tancock in bronze.