Jack Laugher remained philosophical after he suffered a nightmare defence of his synchronised 3m springboard Olympic title with Daniel Goodfellow.
The Team GB pair finished seventh in the final with just 382.80 points as China took the gold ahead of the USA and Germany.
Laugher won in Rio five years ago with Chris Mears but the reigning champion and Goodfellow were never in contention in Tokyo.
The duo were last after the opening round with 47.40 points and could not recover during an error-strewn performance.
Laugher said: “Springboard diving is a bit of a b**** really. It really does just go south very quickly and there is very little you can do about it.
“The errors that we made weren’t really errors through nerves, they were almost too much adrenaline, too much speed, too quick on our somersaults. It’s just how it goes sometimes.
“It’s sport, it wouldn’t be exciting if everyone always won and did exactly how they expected them to do. That competition wasn’t a great competition – 404 for bronze is not a high score and that shows how difficult it has been for a lot of athletes.
“We saw failed dives in there, we saw a lot of poor diving, and that’s just how it goes sometimes.”
An inward three-and-a-half somersault tuck in the third round scored them just 63.24 after Goodfellow, who won synchronised 10m platform bronze with Tom Daley five years ago, over-rotated on entry.
Another poor fourth-round dive kept the pair last and a forward four-and-a-half somersaults effort in the fifth earned just 62.70 points.
Their final dive, a forward two-and-a-half somersaults three twists pike, was comfortably their best and at least lifted them off the bottom of the standings.
Laugher and Goodfellow avoided finishing last after the Russian Olympic Committee team’s final effort was ruled as a no-dive.
Goodfellow added: “We both were a bit nervous but both felt really good. We felt good going into it, we didn’t have a good competition in Budapest which was our last one but we were really positive.
“Sometimes it’s just sport and in springboard diving the margin for error is so small. You can make mistakes. The frustrating thing is we felt really good but the amount of hard work we have put in has not really shown.”