Great Britain ended a difficult regatta with bronze in the men’s eight but it is unlikely to be enough to lift the mood on the country’s worst Olympic performance since 1972.
For the first time 1980, Britain will leave the Games without winning a gold medal on the water and their final haul of one silver and one bronze is the poorest since they went home from Munich empty handed entirely in ’72.
The men’s eight crew of Josh Bugajski, Jacob Dawson, Tom George, Moe Sbihi, Charles Elwes, Oliver Wynne-Griffith, James Rudkin, Tom Ford and cox Henry Fieldsman finished third at the Sea Forest Waterway, just 0.13 seconds behind Germany and New Zealand took gold in a thrilling finale.
Team GB had not looked like medal contenders when finishing last in their heat and being forced to come through the repechage, but improved markedly and were in contention throughout, just 0.15 seconds down on leaders Germany after 500m and then 0.07 down on New Zealand at halfway.
The Kiwis put in what proved the decisive push over the next 500m before holding off several charging boats late on.
Earlier, Vicky Thornley had come agonisingly close to a medal, missing bronze in the women’s single scull by less than half-a-second as she became the sixth British boat to finish fourth at these Games.
Thornley had won silver alongside Katherine Grainger in the double sculls in Rio, having previously been part of the women’s eight at London 2012, and but was denied a second Olympic medal as New Zealand’s Emma Twigg took gold ahead of Hanna Pakatsen of the Russian Olympic Committee and Magdalena Lobnig of Austria.
“I don’t think I could have done anything more,” she said. “I was confident I could come through in the second half but in the last 100 I just fell away.
“I knew I was racing for bronze, it was about me and the Austrian Magdalena Lobnig, I thought I could reel her back in but fair play to her she’s an awesome athlete.
“I’ve given it absolutely everything I’ve got.”