Mark Aldred’s lightweight men’s fours boat suffered a shock elimination from the Olympic competition at the semi final stage this afternoon.
With the top three boats progressing Aldred, who rows for London Rowing Club, and teammates Chris Bartley, Jono Clegg and Peter Chambers were outmuscled by the New Zealand and French crews in the fight for second and third position.
Italy made the early pace, eking out a half boat length lead by quarter distance. That left Britain in a competition for the remaining two places in the final.
The GB squad looked to be asserting themselves between 500 and 1,000 metres, edging into second with about a one second lead over the third-placed boat.
New Zealand and France closed the gap to the British by the halfway mark which they crossed neck and neck.
Had the race been stopped anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500 metres a photo finish would have been required to divide the three crews, who were matching each other stroke for stroke.
With Italy well ahead 0.22 seconds separated those in the battle for the remaining places in the final with 500 metres to go.
Therefore, as with many of the races at Rio 2016, this semi final was to be decided in the final 500m.
It was the New Zealand and French boats who were able to find the extra resources of energy to edge ahead of the British men.
The French effort was particularly impressive, having had one more race than the other boats and qualified to the semi final via the repechage.
They crossed the line in second, a boat length ahead of the British crew who had also crucially dropped behind the New Zealanders in the adjacent lane.
Having been second in the European championships last year this British crew will be very disappointed not to have made a final.