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Tokyo Olympics: Pembury-born rower Emily Craig misses out on Olympic medal by 0.01 seconds


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If fourth is the worst position to finish in an Olympic final, imagine the anguish of missing out on a medal by 0.01 seconds.

That’s what Pembury-born rower Emily Craig and her partner Imogen Grant suffered in the lightweight women’s double sculls final in Tokyo on Thursday, as a photo finish saw them denied bronze by the finest of margins.

Great Britain rower Emily Craig. Picture: Nick Middleton (48974553)
Great Britain rower Emily Craig. Picture: Nick Middleton (48974553)

You could have thrown a blanket over the top four boats at the Sea Forest Waterway in what was an enthralling race, just 0.50 seconds separating first from fourth, and it was the Brits who found themselves out of the podium places.

Italy took gold, with France in silver and Netherlands pipping Team GB to bronze - leaving Grant to reflect on a high-quality race ending in the cruellest of circumstances.

“We knew it was going to be tight,” she said. “Three crews yesterday (in the semi-finals) rowed faster than the world-best time and the world-best time that was set was six seconds faster than it was two months ago.

“That really reflected the quality of all the crews in that event. There are six crews and I think we all deserved a medal!

“It was about who was able to get it just right on the day. We were pretty close but I think we did everything we could.

“We left everything out there and obviously it was pretty gutting to not be coming away with a medal around our necks. I’m sure us and plenty of other people had hoped for that to be the case.

“I’m sure the emotions will come for me a bit later but it is what it is.”

Craig and Grant only came together as crewmates in 2019, meaning they had less experience as a duo than many of their rivals in Tokyo.

Grant had helped the University of Cambridge to Women’s Boat Race success in both 2017 and 2018 but took a sabbatical from her medical degree to focus on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

It’s a short turnaround before she’s back at it and she says neither of the pair will be making a long-term decision about their rowing future anytime soon.

“For both of us, there’s a bit of decompression, rest, recovery,” added Grant. “It’s been a very full-on couple of years which has been incredibly stressful for both of us.

“I’ve got a medical degree to finish and Emily’s got some time away from the sport planned. I’ve got two more years of my medical degree. My course starts on August 9, so I’ve got about a week!

“When the dust has settled, it’s considering what the next steps might be. All of the lightweights have been given a bit of a lifeline in that lightweight rowing is staying in the Paris 2024 programme.

“That’s definitely in my sights. I’m not done with rowing yet, that’s for sure!”

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes including elite and grassroots sport. Discover more about how playing The National Lottery supports Team GB’s athletes by visiting www.national-lottery.co.uk/tokyo2020 and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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