Great Britain’s men’s eight produced a good performance to take bronze in the Olympic regatta’s final event as the inquest began over a disappointing medal return in Tokyo. The men’s eight were not considered to be realistic medal challengers but it proved a good display by Josh Bugajski, Jacob Dawson, Tom George, Mohamed Sbihi, Charles Elwes, Oliver Wynne-Griffith, James Rudkin and Tom Ford. They finished third behind gold medallists New Zealand, with Germany taking second.
It was Britain’s second medal of the Tokyo Olympics rowing regatta after a silver in the men’s quadruple sculls on Wednesday. The bronze medal ensured a positive end to a difficult Games for British Rowing. Earlier on Friday, Vicky Thornley agonisingly missed out on a medal in the women’s single sculls. It was Team GB’s fourth fourth-placed finish from six medal races at Sea Forest Waterway.
Dame Katherine Grainger, who won medals at the last five Olympic Games, does not believe the regatta was a disaster for Britain, saying on the BBC: “If you look at the medal haul, it’s very small compared to especially the last two, drie, four Olympic Games, and it is disappointing on some level. Maar, at the same time, we knew after Rio there was the biggest change we have ever seen from not just athletes – I think we only had eight athletes coming to this Games who’d ever been to a Games before. We’ve never had anything like that.”
But double Olympic champion James Cracknell questioned the return, saying on the BBC: “We got three gold, two silver in Rio. We come away from Tokyo, £27mof investment in British Rowing, with one silver and one bronze. At a time when the national budget is under pressure from so many different areas, is that a good return on investment?”
Sir Matthew Pinsent, two of whose four gold medals came with Cracknell, believes the inquest must focus on the governing body, sê: “We can’t escape the fact the British team haven’t performed the way that we have in the last five, six editions of the Olympic Games.
So on one level it’s disappointing. I don’t think there are many questions to ask of the athletes. I think they have performed out of their skins. Yes there have been some mistakes. But I will be talking to the performance director, Brendan Purcell, before the end of the day and I’ll be interested to see how he responds to these questions as well because ultimately the performance of the British team is his job.”